, Corbin, KY

November 26, 2012

Learning how to deal

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Becky Killian / Editor

After 30 years of dealing with potentially terminal illnesses, Richard Robinson has learned the importance of faith, attitude and recognizing your limitations.

About five years ago, after an X-ray ordered by an infectious disease doctor revealed a suspicious spot, Robinson, 50, of Corbin, had a biopsy and learned he has lung cancer.

The diagnosis came as Robinson continued his fight against HIV, an illness contracted from sex with a woman who used drugs. That disease forced Robinson to give up his job as a senior medical claims examiner for an insurance company in 1998. It also helped him to learn an important lesson about fighting a terminal illness.

“Taking care of your illness has to become a lifestyle,” Robinson said.

In addition to watching his diet and being attentive about taking his medicine, Robinson found a good attitude is another good tool in staying healthy.

Rather than wallow in pity, whether due to despair or a desire for attention, Robinson said he doesn’t let his diseases affect his day-to-day life — although he did have to learn new limitations.

For four years now, Robinson has gotten chemotherapy every 11 days at Commonwealth Cancer Center in Corbin. Because of his chemotherapy, Robinson has to avoid sun exposure. As a result, he’s had to give up fishing and picnics. However, Robinson remains determined despite the changes in his life.

“I’m not going to let it put me in the ground.”

Years ago, after he faced his own mortality following his HIV diagnosis, Robinson said he learned the importance of taking time to smell the roses — literally.

At the time, Robinson grew roses and made a point to enjoy their scent when he got home from work. That one simple act helped to relieve the stress he felt, and he believes everyone should make the time to find a simple outlet to relieve their troubles.

“And you just don’t have to do it once each day,” Robinson said. “Everybody has hard things that they have to deal with.”

Robinson also credits his faith for his continued strength, saying he believes that every day the Lord gives him enough strength to make it through the day.

“My God’s bigger than that tumor. I ain’t worried about it.”

Through it all, Robinson said he has never asked a doctor for a prognosis. His tumor continues to shrink and he continues his battle with the help of friends and an important outlet he found long ago.

“Take time to smell the roses. Do it.”