On August 24th my husband and I learned he has Stage III melanoma. Gregg is what some people might call a “health freak” who has exercised nearly every day of his life since grade school, ingests a diet of organic fruits and vegetables, and uses sunscreen religiously. He has done everything within his power to maintain a healthy body; but we have learned, along with many other things over the past few weeks, there are things you can’t control, and DNA is one of them.
My way of coping with bad news is to try to obtain as much information as possible about it, and then determine a plan to deal with it. Unfortunately, the more I read about Stage III melanoma, the more discouraged I became. So I turned to a book, Necessary Losses, by Judith Viorst, to help me cope. In her book, she discusses the many illusions, dependencies and impossible expectations that all of us have to give up in order to grow as individuals. As I read, I recognized that I have been stuck in an illusion she describes as “omnipotent guilt, which rests on the illusion of control – the illusion, for example, that we have absolute power over our loved ones’ well-being. And so, if they suffer or fail or fall ill, we have no doubt that we are to blame, that had we done it differently, or had done it better, we surely would have been able to prevent it.” I know I have felt this way many times. Ironically, this illusion is probably why I became a financial advisor, and why I take my relationships with my clients so personally. Making sure that all the clients of our firm remain emotionally and financially secure has always felt like my life-purpose, not a job.
I’m a CPA and Gregg is an engineer by training, so I am sure we will both be struggling with the issue of control as we deal with his cancer. But instead of being frustrated by the things we cannot control, we have decided to focus on those we can. We are learning about expert doctors and clinics in the field, making sure that Gregg is getting the best treatment possible, and continuing to help him stay healthy, so his body can fight it.
We are also focused on the positive. We are thankful for the gift of meeting each other when we were so young, being happily married for over 30 years and enjoying and appreciating each sweet day of life. I hope you remember to do the same.
Jeannette A. Jones, CPA, CFP®