Posted by: Michelle Knoll | January 22, 2009

Cancer… can be… “fun”?!? Wow, THAT’S Rich…

I know, I know, that’s a really odd title for the first post of the new year.  And I’m sure you’re wondering, what’s cancer got to do with the media arts?  Well, you haven’t finished reading this post.  So read on, and you’ll find out. 🙂

I recently got reconnected with an old friend from college, and I want to tell you a little bit about him.

First of all, he’s a writer, and an artist, and a photographer, and a skilled craftsman, and a professional computer expert, and… well, he’s a lot of things. I would say he’s a “genius” but he wouldn’t like me using that term when referencing his name.  But he’s a lot of things, and he’s accomplished a lot of things in his lifetime.

And he’ll tell you above a shadow of a doubt: He’s Blessed, and He’s Rich.

Recently, this friend of mine posted a video on the Internet that was quite interesting.  You see, he used to have his own photography studio, and while running that business, he realized that there was a need for sturdy camera stands that didn’t cost a fortune.  So he set out to make such a stand, out of good quality hard woods, but he couldn’t find a pattern that he thought would be the best.  So he made his own.  And his camera stands were considered to be the best on the market, and quite unique in their design.  The video he posted was about retiring one of these camera stands, because he felt it was time to do so.  The video gives a good description of why it was time, and you can watch it here:  http://gallery.me.com/richwillis#gallery  At the top left of the page is an album that shows his camera stands, and at the bottom left of the page is the video about the retiring of the last of these creations. 

This guy’s creativity knows no bounds.  Some time ago, he enclosed a Mac mini in an old G4 cube, and even configured a “virtual laser keyboard” to go with it!  The guy’s ingenious, I’ll say that for sure.  Who woulda thought to do something like that with a Mac mini…

And his most recently completed project, if I have it correct, is a motorcycle with certain “western” details that make it the talk of the town.  You can see the progress of this marvelous machine here, in his “micro garage”:  http://web.mac.com/richwillis/Micro-Garage/Podcast/Podcast.html.  And now, his “after work” project is the rebuilding of an old Volkswagen bus, fitting it with an interior that rivals some of the nicest Criss-Craft yachts.  I can’t wait to see pictures of this treasure when he gets it complete.  It’s gonna be sweet, I’m sure.

He had three majors in college, while most of us struggled to complete just one.  And he plays the guitar as well as the trombone. 

Amazing, isn’t it?  Well, Yeah.  It’s Rich.

However, aside from all of this, my good friend is showing the world an important point, which is: Life isn’t so bad, even when it’s bad, and even when it’s bad the bad surely won’t last too long, so it’s not that bad.  Did you catch all of that?  Or did the word “bad” get in the way of the real meaning in the sentence?  If all you saw was the word “bad,” then go back and read the sentence again.  For it’s not all bad.

You see, my friend is in a battle.  He’s winning, but it’s still a battle.  He was diagnosed with colon cancer, and had surgery to remove his lower colon in early 2007, almost two years ago.  Now he takes chemotherapy, and with the most jovial of attitudes possible.  But with him, it’s not a “grin and bear it” attitude;  it really IS a jovial attitude.  He cuts up with the staff at the “spa” as he calls it, and is so thankful and kind and courteous to everyone that helps him while he’s there.  And I know you’re thinking, “he can cut up and have fun while going through chemotherapy?  Gee, that’s rich!”

To which I would say, Well, yeah. That is Rich.

I’ll say this much: he may be missing much of his colon, but he’s got a lot more guts than most people, to go through all that he’s been through, and still be able to smile, laugh, and crack jokes.  But you wanna know something?  If you asked him, how can you be happy through all of this?  his first response would probably be a joke.  He’d probably look at you and say, “Oh, I’m not smiling from happiness. It’s just gas…”

And I could make a lot of jokes and puns that would allude to what he’s been through and what he’s missing, but this friend has already done that for you on his blog.  So I won’t even try to match his wit and humor, but I will forward you directly to the source of the best butt jokes in town:
http://web.me.com/richwillis/CancerBlog/Home_Base.html

And once you read all of his blog, I know that you will react by saying, “Wow.”  And I will join you by saying, “yeah, that’s rich.”

All in all, the one thing that has touched me so much, by talking to him and by listening to him talk to others, is that he’s extremely focused and sure that God is blessing him through the entire experience.  And I know you’re probably wondering with great amazement, how can ANYONE feel blessed through colon surgery and the chemotherapy that follows?

Well, I’ll tell you: that’s Rich.

Now some, I know, would look at how I said my friend is sure that God is blessing him, and they would immediately react by saying, “yeah, some guy finds out that he’s got cancer, and he all of a sudden gets religious, finds God, and turns into a monk.”

If I didn’t know this friend of mine as well as I do, I might tend to think the same thing.  But the fact of the matter is, I do know him, well enough to know that finding cancer in his lower extremity didn’t lead him to find the Lord.  On the contrary, finding the Lord early on in his life is what has lead him to find victory in this battle he’s fighting.

It’s a powerful thing, to know your God, and to walk in His ways, and to serve Him with a whole heart.  It’s that walk with God, through all the courses of life, through all of life’s changes and ups and downs — changes that remind me more of the path our smaller and larger intestines take in our bodies — that helps a person to see that life’s not so bad, even when it’s bad.  It’s that walk with God that helps you thrive and not just survive, when life throws a pile of poop in your face.

So, I want you to get to know my friend and the life that he lives for God.    You need to read his blog, and walk through his experience.  So go to http://web.me.com/richwillis/CancerBlog/Home_Base.html and click on the link for the “progress reports.”  And then you need to read the jokes section.  Because “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” right?

Besides, according to my friend, cancer… can be fun.  Because life can be fun, when you focus on the right things, and don’t allow the wrong things to take precedence.  Yes, he knows that now, but it’s because he has always known that.  He’s always known that life can be fun, no matter what comes your way, no matter what interrupts your life, even if it is a colostomy.

God’s purpose and meaning for your life are not found in how simple, how easy, or how comfortable life can be, but rather in the midst of an uphill battle, a raging storm, unbeatable odds, mitigating circumstances, and perilous times.  For in those things, you learn the basis of your faith comes from trusting in God’s simple truths of love, faith, hope, and assurance that He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

Wow…. That’s Rich.

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Responses

  1. This is bookmarking material. But he’s not alone in the attitude, thankfully. I have known, and known about, several others, even on the ‘losing’ side of the fence. Just look up the late Jane Tomlinson.

  2. Yes, I’m sure there have been many on both sides of the fence (winning and losing) that have had great attitudes about this type of battle. In my life, however, it has been refreshing to get to know Rich again, because I have been surrounded by people with such negative attitudes and such a lack of hope. And the last person I knew to battle with cancer was trying desperately to have a positive attitude, only to be shut down by others who did not, which was VERY sad.

    And I think that Rich’s blog is a must read. It’s just good stuff! So I wanted to post about it here, in the hopes that others would read it, and maybe derive some encouragement from it.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

  3. […] I haven’t read her latest draft, but I have been reading both of her blogs (she writes nice things about me), and I think she is going to do very well as a writer. She has made some really good […]


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