Leeroy Jenkins and the C word

"Enemy at the Gates" | Art by sandara. Used with permission.
Life was going well for me and my wife in the summer of 2012. I had recovered from changing jobs and was establishing myself in a new position with a new company. I was graduating seminary in a few months and we were attending a new church. My wife and I had plans for our future.

“Hey, Rob? I have this lump here. Do you think I should see my doctor?”

If you’ve played games online in the era after World of Warcraft, then you might know the story of the group of intrepid adventurers gathered in a room in Upper Blackrock Spire, where they strategize about a particularly difficult fight forthcoming. These heroes even go so far as to get totally geeky about it and calculate the odds of their success to a 32.333 (repeating, obviously) percent chance of success. That is, until one of their group decides to just charge ahead.

“OK, times up! Let’s do this! Leerooooooy Jeeeenkins!”

The stunned shock and silence that follows for that brief moment before the realization that Helena brought her handbasket and they were all in it? You know that feeling?

“Hey, Rob? I have this lump here.”

There is no way to “stick to the plan” because there is no plan any more.

Yeah, so do I.

At first, my wife and I attempted to “stick to the plan.” I mean, after all, it could be nothing. We made the appointment to see the doctor. I continued with my work testing software. We shifted our focus from one congregation to another. Neither of us was yet 40; something as outrageous as cancer doesn’t happen to people our age, right?

“Well, we’re not sure what it is. It doesn’t feel quite like cancer. Let’s get some scans done.”

There it is again, that helpless, “G****mit, Leroy” feeling. It’s not going according to plan. This is supposed to be easy.

So, we arrange the scans. And more scans. And still more scans. Each time, nothing definite, but always the news is a little worse. Still, not the Big C word yet.

Then came the biopsy. We were told afterwards that we wouldn’t get the results over the phone and that we’d be brought into the office to discuss whatever was found. I came home from work and the wife said, “Well, it’s cancer.”

“OK, times up! Let’s do this! Leerooooooy Jeeeenkins!”

Plan? What plan? No one plans for this kind of thing. Sure, we have medical insurance to cover the possibility, but planning? You don’t plan for this disaster. There is no way to “stick to the plan” because there is no plan any more. And, I’m sorry, Leeroy, but this time I’m not entirely sure that there is chicken waiting for us at the end.

If you’re spending all your time debating what you’re going to do, you miss out on the fun.

Diseases, like cancer, blindside us. And, in that suddenness and severity, we feel so completely and utterly helpless. It is like that party of earnest gamers who have everything figured out, but someone ruins everything by charging ahead without considering the ramifications. Life feels that way with regards to disease and we are powerless to do anything about it.

On the other hand, though, when there is nothing that you can do and no clear path ahead, is having a plan really all that important? You can’t really plan for all contingencies. I mean, gallstones are supposed to be pretty easy to cure, but have you ever considered what could happen if one gets stuck in the wrong place? Eight years ago, it happened to my mother and within the space of six weeks she died, all because of a gallstone.

“OK, times up! Let’s do this! Leerooooooy Jeeeenkins!”

What is amazing, though, is the attitude I saw both in my mother during that brief time and, more recently, in my wife. When you are at the mercy of the way things roll, there really is no use in “sticking with the plan.” For my mother, at the end, she decided that she had fought the good fight and it was time to go home. She voluntarily ended treatments in favour of letting nature take its course. For my wife, she submitted to the treatments and the process of healing, letting the doctors handle the details.

Sometimes the plans aren’t worth it. Sometimes calculating out the probability of success to some repeating decimal feels like a waste of time. Time is ticking away in life and if you’re spending all your time debating what you’re going to do, you miss out on the fun. And as a person of faith, I believe God is carrying me through. Up ahead, there is a banquet laid, complete with chicken, ready for me to rest and relax in spite of the enemies arrayed against me. And so I turn towards my God, my Shepherd, give a mischievous grin, and charge ahead.

“OK, times up! Let’s do this! Leerooooooy Jeeeenkins!”

Robert Martin

Robert Martin

Guest Writer at Area of Effect
Robert has lived in the world of hobbits, wizards, rings, and dragons since he was eight, has travelled the galaxy with Kirk and company since he was 10, and has been a steady companion of The Doctor since he was 16. Oh, and he tests software in his spare time.
Robert Martin

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