How would you react to a diagnosis of terminal cancer? How would you choose to spend your last days on earth? Would you have regrets or would you look back on a life well-lived, satisfied that you helped as many people as you could? Would you rush out to do and get as many of the things of which you had been deprived, or would you instead reflect upon all that you had already been privileged to do and possess?
You may have heard that our 39th President Jimmie Carter was diagnosed with melanoma, a very aggressive cancer. If you did not see his press conference announcing the diagnosis, it can be found here.
President Carter said some remarkable things about how he is coping with his diagnosis that provides an example and model concerning how one who has a deep belief in God should react. He was totally at ease, relaxed, and smiling throughout the news conference. There was no discussion of doom and gloom, and no self pity.
He said that he was surprisingly at ease with the diagnosis and that he had had a wonderful life filled with many blessings. He was grateful for all the people he was able to help through the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity.
He went on to say that he would accept whatever treatments are available but that he is in God’s hands. When asked what he would say to other cancer patients he said, “Hope for the best and accept whatever comes.” He said he was as blessed as much or more than any human being and that he was grateful and hopeful. He said that he is ready for whatever is next—the next great adventure.
Doris Kearns Goodwin a presidential historian said that “What we should remember about Jimmie Carter is that he was a good and decent man. In politics today we don’t often get good and decent men running for politics.”
President Carter provides an example of the kind of life we should all strive to emulate: a life of unwavering faith in God, honesty, acceptance of life’s trials, compassion and service to others, and gratitude for the many blessings we receive. May we all do our best to be good and decent human beings.
Information about the work of the Carter Center can be found here.