Jack London’s Gift to Me

My journey in doing the research on this writing tablet coincided with the biggest challenge of my life: facing terminal cancer and surviving two horrible surgeries.

In September of 1999, I became very sick and almost died. I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, which had spread to my right lung.

I endured two major surgeries, where I lost my right kidney and part of my right lung. I suffered unimaginable pain from complications, and part of me was changed forever.

About 2 months after the surgeries, I was called in for a meeting with my oncologist. I was told that although my surgeries were a complete success, the nature of renal cell carcinoma meant that I may have as little as 8 months to live. Furthermore, my odds for living 3 years were 1 in 5. For each additional 3 years I would live, the odds would always remain the same 1 in 5, for the rest of my life. My oncologist went on to tell me that her longest living patient with renal cell carcinoma lived 8 years.

Needless to say, this news crushed me. All my plans in life were thrown for a loop. Death just doesn’t fit into the picture. I was even scared to go to sleep at night, as it would be wasting time. Time that I could use to do something else.

I was offered anti–depressants and was reassured that with the pain medications available today I wouldn’t suffer. This didn’t make me feel any better about it.

I turned down the offer for anti–depressants. With a lump in my throat, I told my oncologist I didn’t want any drugs, and that I just needed a couple of weeks to get used to this, and that I would be okay.

I knew this was all outside of my control, so I prayed, and left this matter to God. It was my faith in Jesus Christ which got me through that nightmare, and that brought me a genuine sense of peace. It is my faith in the promises that God has made to all of us that has overcome my fears, allowed me to face the eventual death of my body with a smile on my face, and has made each day fun again.

It was at about this time that I read Jack London’s quote:

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Reading this gave me a new perspective on my own life, and gave me a direction on how to use my time. All this, when little else made sense.

I remember when I first read it, I was enchanted by it. I must have read it dozens of times. I found a renewed hope for living my own life in a productive way. It wasn’t how long I lived that mattered, but it was how I would spend my time now.


Notice: content is continually updated for accuracy. Please contact Christian Chaffee with any and all comments, questions, and corrections.