Friday, December 28, 2012

The Long Process

6 years ago I was informed that there were signs that cancer had invaded my prostate … And how are you?

I am not sure as to why I am writing about this now; perhaps the Christmas Season, the memories that always come around at this time of the year, the issues that permeate our daily lives and make it sometimes easier, sometimes harder to get through the day to day routine.

That not-soon-to-be-forgotten announcement set my life into a spin which threatened to change it totally. Yet, in the long run, the events and thought processes which have come about have actually changed me as a person and as a thinking entity.  And although I have not really taken a general survey so to speak… I think for the better.

-“I think it’s time for you to take out some insurance” said my wife one morning. As things stood, the old policy I had was terminated when our family’s economy had come crashing down a few years before. “Losing the shirt off our backs” fell short as a description of that plunge.

But, after 35+ years in the life insurance business, I well knew that what she was saying made sense. So the process was started with the application and the medical exam… the fact that I was already over 60 required me to take a full medical exam, something I had not done in a too long while… and something which most likely, saved my life.

It usually takes about two weeks for the life insurance company to answer after all the docs and exams are in, so our lives went on visiting clients and potential clients… telling them how lives can change from one moment to another… little dreaming how much these words would come to rule my life.

As days went by without an answer, I almost forgot about the pending life policy… One morning I asked my wife (also an agent at the same agency, and my agent to boot) “Hey… what’s going on with the policy? – It has been a while” and she answered… “I’ll make a call and find out”

I assume the call was made… next morning, as we arrived at the office my wife was called in to the manager’s office. Sometime later she came out and was somewhat somber… after a few years’ marriage there are little signs that are easily identifiable… or not? She asked me to come to the manager’s office with her, since he had to talk to both of us.

-“Hi” said Juan, our manager.  –“Come on in… There are some things I want to discuss with you”.  He said this with also a somewhat somber look on his face.  

Hmmm… I remember asking myself… “What’s goin’ on here?”

-“You have been declined by the company for your insurance…”

You have to understand I know these life company processes like the back of my hand. Wrote the book for a couple of companies… I know a company makes money on sales, not on declining clients. Usually, when there is a health issue, there are as many as 25 levels of ratings which can be applied, depending on the severity of the offending issue…

But… an outright decline?

The obvious question popped up… WHY???

-“Sweetheart” said my wife to me… your exams came back and they show one of the values as higher than normal. –“So?” answered I… I think the answer I already suspected, for all the somberness and unusual manner in which I was being told these news, whatever they were. At the manager’s office with my wife and a friend present as well.

_”These results seem to indicate the possibility of cancer in the prostate” said my wife… as this was said, we all fell into a silent void. What came to my mind at this point? I honestly don’t remember …

-“What do I do now?”…  I remember asking as a way to make some noise...

-“We have to confirm the diagnosis; sometimes these tests are not right”.

-“So, let’s do it… How do I go about it?”

We set up an appointment with an oncologist and went to the test. This was a test which took pieces of my prostate and the results came back to confirm the initial diagnosis… 65% of my gland was invaded by the cancer cells…

Since that day over five years ago, I have spoken with many folk who have undergone or who are undergoing treatment for cancer. There seems to be a common and underlying thought trend with all who have successfully undergone treatment:  There is no room for negativism or for depression… Yes, the physical aspects of the treatment and the reaction of the body to these treatments are very important; but so are the psychological underpinnings.

What next? … I had no funds and no insurance… but a lot of pure, unadulterated faith.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas… With a Heavy Heart…and Hope

It was the original intent of this particular entry to be on a light note…  But I took too long to sit down and write it…  things happened.

How can anyone explain, from any possible point of view, what happened at a Connecticut school this past week? I cannot. I think about it and I think about why or how this could happen; How could it be possible? How could a mind be so sick that retribution for an nonexistent  but perceived wrong, can be taken from these innocent children and their teachers? Beyond this… how can an otherwise intelligent person, a teacher herself, could possibly have assault weapons in a home where she knew there was an unbalanced mind?  Even further… how could she be permitted to purchase weapons which, in essence, belong in the hands of Police SWAT teams and army assault units? Having been able to buy these took her life, along with the lives of another 27 people (including her son’s life, the assailant).

Much has been said about the school teachers who did their best, in vain, to fight back. Those teachers who tried to –with some success, thankfully- shield their charges while giving up their own lives in doing so. There is human silver of the purest kind somewhere in this lining; it is just too damn difficult to visualize and focus on it at this time.

Yet, Christmas is coming to us; it is a time of renewed promise of life, of loving and of hope. This time we rejoice in these promises in the midst of questions and despair; in the midst of the kind of fear and impotence which could easily shut the mind… and open the door to frustration and to reneging on what the message is.

Each one of us has lived through difficult moments in our lives and through times which have threatened to end any kind of hope we might have. We live through these moments; we, like the Phoenix Bird of legend, manage to rise once and again and to continue forward, looking for that reward whose presence is reminded to us every year at this time. Yes, I know this promise is an everyday issue, not just a Christmas promise, but it is in this season when it becomes a living symbol, one which allows us to focus on that message and to, once again and above all that may be evil, take it, assume it, love it and live it.

I hope that whatever lessons there may be in this event will not go to waste. I hope that we don’t, as we tend to, overreact into such extremes that any possible answers get lost in interminable debates. Only in achieving those answers, might that silver lining be allowed to come through and to remain as a living symbol of what can be good in a wasteland of misdirected human emotion.  What was and should never be allowed to be again.

Let's lovingly remember those who left us and let’s spend time with those who haven't; let's share who we are with love and blessings and let's look forward to a brighter, better and beautiful year when we can fully become who we are meant to be and help those who are still trying to do so.

Most of all... let's remember that Christmas is about Christ and what that most beautiful gift of life means, not about things to get... 

Merry Christmas to my friends... enjoy it in peace and with love.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!
  • A new blog… once a week or thereabouts… “”… a view on current politics from both sides of the fence… serious and irreverent but transparent (can I use this word in politics???)

Doña América and other memories.

I know she has already been mentioned somewhen along this line of sometimes unhinged memories as they relate to moments of my life , but y...