By Tim E. Renzelmann (July 7, 2021)
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared, “Change is the only constant in life.” Buddhists speak of “Impermanence.” In the 1980s, Carly Simon sang, “Nothing stays the same.”
I’ve wasted more time and energy than I care to imagine or willing to admit... foolishly trying to keep things from changing and then agonizing when things change in a way that is not to my liking. Funny thing, though, when things change for the better... it doesn’t seem to bother me as much! I suspect I’m not alone there! 😊
On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel I’ve become a little more accepting of change.
I would often look to my BC (before cancer) days as the “good old days.” Days when I hoped that nothing would change. I was young, healthy, and fit. But all of that has, of course, changed to varying degree. Some change may have been a result of my diagnosis... but most change was simply a fact of life.
I’m certainly not as young as I once was. Spoiler alert – none of us are! Even though I feel I have taken good care of my body... every part of me is just older and more “worn out”. And I’m nowhere near the fitness level that I had once achieved in my younger days as competitive runner and marathoner!
I don’t agonize over those changes as much as I once did. But admittedly, on occasion, I experience a kind of remorse for the way things used to be.
Then I realize I have experienced many other changes following cancer. I became husband to a beautiful woman who continues to give me opportunities to experience love in its finest ways. I became father and stepfather to three amazing children who have grown to become three amazing young adults and father-in-law to their spouses. I became grandfather to two of the most adorable grandkids!
Thank goodness for change!
I have met so many wonderful individuals whom I almost certainly would have never met if cancer had not come into my life. Of course, that includes the many strong and courageous cancer patients/survivors and co-survivors, including those who are still with us and those who are not, who have had a profound impact on my life!
Thank goodness for change!
It also includes this special group of professional caregivers that make up Matthews Oncology Associates and Sheboygan Cancer & Blood Specialists. Granted, many of the faces have changed in the almost thirty years since I first became a patient at this clinic and the twenty-one years since I joined the staff. But along with the changes that have included new treatments, new technologies and new ways to treat this disease... the staff, both young and old, have acquired new understandings, new skills and new expertise!
Thank goodness for change!
Leading this team of skilled and dedicated medical professionals are two oncologists with brilliant minds and huge hearts who offer the highest levels of care, concern and compassion – Dr. H. Marshall Matthews and Dr. S. Mark Bettag!
As I have mentioned before, when I first began this work in March of 2000, my instructions were to do whatever I could to make the cancer experience a little more bearable, a little more tolerable, and maybe even a little more enjoyable for cancer patients in the community (regardless of where they were treated).
In those early days I had some ideas of what I wanted to do... but I also was looking forward to meeting others who were in similar positions. I quickly learned how very unique this position was... and still is (perhaps even more so in this day of fiscal constraints). In fact, after 21 years of this work I have yet to find anyone with a position that is even close, either in a small cancer clinic or a large institution!
Why does my position even exist at MOA/SCBS? Ultimately, you would have to ask Dr. Matthews & Dr. Bettag that question. I certainly don’t mean to speak for them, but it is a question I have often considered. My answer would be one that anyone who knows these two men (especially their patients) would certainly agree with. Dr. Matthews and Dr. Bettag simply want to do all they can for their patients!
Please don’t misunderstand me - I am in no way suggesting that my position makes Matthews Oncology Associates/Sheboygan Cancer & Blood Specialists the special place that it is! There are so many brilliant, educated and skilled healthcare professionals along with support and business staff at this clinic that perform far more essential work than I, and they do so with great skill, the utmost commitment and heartfelt compassion. But the fact that a position as unique is mine even exists at this clinic is a very clear indicator that MOA/SCBS is the special place that it is because Dr. Matthews and Dr. Bettag, above all else, consider what is best for their patients in virtually every decision that they make when caring for their patients, managing this clinic, and contributing to the Local Cancer Community.
Thank goodness some things don’t change!
Congratulations to Dr. H. Marshall Matthews who, on July 6th, marked 29 years of exceptional cancer care in Sheboygan! This coming September Dr. S. Mark Bettag will mark 26 years of care in Sheboygan that includes nineteen years at this clinic!
Thank you Dr. Matthews and Dr. Bettag for providing some consistency amidst the chaos of cancer for so many in our community!