The last few days I've been thinking pretty deeply about my cancer and my prognosis. A lot of folks consider cancer to be the end of the road for them. I'm choosing to view it from a more positive perspective. In many ways it's helped me to focus on what is important and shed off a lot of cruft in the process.
I was talking with one of the nurses at Cancer Care Associates about how folks treat their disease. Many folks view their disease as this thing that needs to be overcome. Then when the disease doesn't act the way they expect they fall into even deeper despair. I'm not approaching it that way. I'm approaching it from the perspective that whatever happens will happen. I'm not going to try to force my disease to be any one thing. It is what it is, and it's just another thing to be dealt with accordingly.
In many ways this is an unconventional way to approach the disease. But I've always admired the unconventional. I tend to gravitate towards folks that defy convention and really examine the cultural norms to determine if they're really true or just accepted beliefs.
I know a lot of folks want to keep their diagnosis secret. I'm not wired that way. I think that the more folks understand the disease and its treatment the more we can put aside the fears that surround cancer. Cancer is not a curse; it's a winning ticket in the genetic lottery. What I have going on inside of me is the result of certain cells trying to protect their way of life. That's pretty freakin' remarkable. The more I understand the disease and what is going on inside of me the more fascinated I am with it.
I know that my time here is finite, and that my world can change overnight. But I also choose not to dwell on that. There's a photo from a recent interview with Michael J. Fox that had the following line in it:
"Don't spend a lot of time imagining worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice."
I've got a fantastic imagination and I can imagine all sorts of worst-case scenarios (trust me, medical websites are not your friend when you're sick). But I also know that this morning I'm sitting here in front of a laptop typing up a blog post, drinking coffee and feeling mostly OK. I'm hearing birds chirping to each other and watching a cat become very interested in their chatter. I have a plethora of things that I can do in this moment, and I can choose how to use that time (within reason). I can spend that time worrying about the future, fretting about how my life has changed, or cursing my fortunes for having something that I'm not sure will ever go away. Or, I can say "fuck it" and just do what I can with each day.
Part of this is also having an incredible support network, from JoDee, my family, friends, and mentors to the folks at Cancer Care Associates and Beaumont (nee "Corewell"). They're the ones that help ground me when I want to choose despair. (And trust me, despair is a seductive choice some days).
It's unconventional to call cancer a blessing, but I choose to be unconventional in my approach. Rather than be silent I choose to be vocal. Rather than dwell on the negative I choose to seek out the positive. Rather than choosing ignorance I choose to educate myself. Rather than focus on what has been taken away I choose to embrace what remains and explore new opportunities.
The alternatives might work for other folks but this works for me.