What to do When Treatment is Going Well
My latest set of CT scans have come back saying I’m still in good shape. My labs are great, I’m handling treatment well and we know that this will be the long-term plan until it doesn’t work or we find something better. So knowing that this is most likely my normal for the next several years, what now?
The decision to live
I have made the decision to live. Rather than thinking about the what-if’s and worrying about any kind of expiration date on my life, I have gotten busy living. My husband and I made the decision to build a house. I have gotten back into the swing of finding professional development and avenues to advance my career, and I finally allowed myself to plan a vacation.
Recreating space for life
The last few months have been a time of making space for life beyond being a cancer patient. It has been a time of planting a vegetable garden, finally reading the stack of books on my desk, rejoining the gym, and learning how to bake fancy desserts. I feel like I have finally taken a breath and remembered to just live. Every now and then I have hiccups. An enlarged lymph node that wasn’t there last time. Or hey, even a new kidney disease diagnosis. But I take each twist and turn as it comes, and try to keep on living.
One of the hardest questions I am asked is."What do you do after you are diagnosed? How do you handle being Stage IV, how do you even begin to function knowing you have cancer?" This question is hard because I asked myself and my doctors the same thing. How do I even make myself wake up in the morning knowing I have a disease that may kill me no matter what we do? I know this question comes from a place of fear, pain, and confusion. Did you know it is also the easiest one for me to answer?
So what do you do?
You LIVE. You conquer the day moment by moment and just live. If you knew you had 6 months, 6 years, or 6 minutes left, would you do anything differently? I want to just live. Live a life that is messy, one that I know is going to involve health setbacks, but most definitely will have triumphs and moments of joy that are so much more important. That has been the answer to my “what now?” question. What now? I make a full life and enjoy the time I’ve been given.
When you look back on your life, no matter how short or long - will you be excited about completing a bucket list? Will you look back with regret that you closed yourself off in bed depressed about your diagnosis? Or will you smile that you lived life on your terms, with all the bad and all the good?
How long did you wait before telling others about your diagnosis?