Every morning when he wakes up, the first thing that crosses his mind is, ‘terminal cancer,’ the second is ‘What are you going to do with this day?’ David Clark says, “The diagnosis of a non-curable disease does not mean your life is over. David, 51-year-old New Jersey resident is suffering from stage 4, terminal lung cancer.
Death is our companion; it walks with us along the journey. We never know when it embraces us but yet we believe there are so many tomorrows to come. That belief leads us to dream for tomorrow, work hard for tomorrow. We do everything for that ‘tomorrow’ but in between we forget that we have a ‘today’. We realize the value of ‘today’ when no more tomorrows exist!!
When it comes to terminal cancer, you can’t have any hope!! It can’t be cured and expected to result in death. In January 2015 Clark had a hard time regaining weight after an arduous ice-climbing trip. When he went to the doctor, a CT scan revealed a golf-ball sized tumor on his spine. A series of tests found the tumor’s source to be an advanced case of terminal lung cancer.
David Clark always dreamed about growing old with his wife and sitting on the front porch with her and their children and grandchildren, but to receive the news that it won’t happen for him was devastating. He cried for the first three days.
That mourning period was followed by radiation, a surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy every three weeks. Despite this aggressive treatment, doctors told Clark he had an 80 percent chance of dying within a year and a 99 percent chance of dying within five years. Clark has accepted this, but that doesn’t mean he has given up on the life he has left.
We have to accept the reality. Our denial will not change the facts. So instead of denying it, embracing the truth and accepting it as a part of our life indeed makes it easy for us. He did the same!!
He decided that he wouldn’t allow cancer to deprive him of the things that he loves, he explains. “There might come a time when I may not be able to do all the things that I love, but today is not that day.” So, Clark has decided to keep doing one activity that has brought him joy for the past 18 years – climbing mountains with his son. He is on a mission to climb all 46 peaks in New York’s Adirondack mountain range. To date, the pair has summited three peaks above 4,000 feet.
The effects of his disease and treatment have made climbing more difficult, but Clark says he gets strength from nature. He said, “The beauty of the peaks, the freshly fallen snow; I found a sense of peace, found a sense of strength. For that period of time, I forget I have non-curable cancer.”
Despite Clark’s health issues, his family is encouraging him to climb. In a cancer forum, someone wrote, “My friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and her family decided that she will not survive. She died before her first treatment, but I would say it is not cancer, it is the attitude of her family members which killed her.” But here, the way Clark family has stood with him is indeed respectable.
Clark’s son Matthew says, “It exemplifies what I want to be when I grow up, spending time with him will help me become that kind of person.” Not only for Matthew but for us too his life is a lesson. He showed how to be happy, how to live life when death pervades inch by inch. Clark says, “In many ways, cancer has opened my eyes to how beautiful our world truly is.” Let’s salute his spirit and wish him good luck for his mission!!