A serious post for Sunday morning.
When I was diagnosed I committed to myself and to God that I would not waste time feeling sorry for myself nor would I spend time asking why. Instead, I committed to live each day. I will appreciate the things I normally take for granted. I will be open and vulnerable with the world. I also hope that my experience can help others through their own struggles in life, and vice-versa.
This blog is part of making good on that commitment. It is in this spirit that I offer you this more somber and revealing post this morning.
BC. Before Cancer.
Suddenly that term applies to me. It's so new a concept that sometimes I even forget for a blissful moment or two that it does. I am guessing those moments will become fewer and fewer over time as the reality of treatments and tests becomes an ever-present part of my life.
In the BC period of my life I was globetrotting, running global corporate and regulatory communications for a Fortune 100 company, eating in fun and fancy restaurants, trying to better myself as a leader and manager, working on loving my husband more each day, building relationships with friends, and (admittedly) tacidly thinking about my faith*.
In the ACD (after cancer diagnosis) period, the truth is that I am still me and I still have a great life. Some, actually most, of the things I was doing before, I am still doing. Some things I am doing with more intensity, like talking with God and reading the Bible. Some things I am not doing at all. For example OG oncologist has clipped my wings for the moment (sorry Swiss Air and Lufthansa for the revenue loss this will involve).
I have also noticed that my thought life is the thing that has been most fundamentally altered when I compare my BC life to my life now. I will try to explain.
In the BC period I would ask myself questions like what did I want to do when I finally grew up and settled down? Would we have kids? If yes, would we try to have our own, adopt or foster? What did God really mean to me? I have been a person of faith most of my life, but was I really living like it? Was I being transformed into the person God made me to be? Would we keep living the expat life? Where would we want to live next? Were we saving enough for retirement? Should we buy a house?
I assume many of you ask yourselves the same kinds of questions.
In the ACD period some of these questions remain, but there are also more, and different, questions.
Some are really mundane. Will I be able to drive when I am in treatment? How will I spend my time today without the chaos of work swirling as it has for all of my adult life? If I go for a run or go to yoga, will it make me feel better or worse? I wonder if this piece of fish will make me nauseous?
And then there are the other questions, the deeper questions. This peace I have must come from God, right? What if I die really soon? If that happens what will happen to my husband, my family, my friends? What do I want my funeral to be like? What's my legacy? Is this cancer the reason we never answered the question about having kids? If I survive who will hire me because melanoma isn't actually curable? What does life with a disease that can't be cured and is notoriously aggressive look like? How do I prevent my whole identity and world from becoming about or defined by cancer? Just to name a few.
There are also a bunch of declarative thoughts that run through my mind all the time. I am not afraid to die, but I want to live. I will beat this thing. I have crammed a lot of life into 37 years, that's really cool and I regret nothing. But, I want another 37. The only thing on my bucket list is to grow old with my husband. I have never felt so helpless to help myself. God's hand is all over my life, and always has been even when I was not paying attention. I am not in control and never was.
I have also thought a lot about the beautiful duality that exists in so much of this thinking. The deep, God given desire to LIVE juxtaposed with the ability to think about death and accept that it's part of life (along with taxes...and, in our case, paying taxes in two countries). The human mind and soul have a beautiful, strange and complex relationship.
I don't have any answers to any of this right now. It's just what's going on in my head, sometimes endlessly. I am sure as my ACD timeline grows, this thinking will continue to evolve. And, I will continue share my notes and thoughts and maybe some answers to some of these questions...we are just getting started.
*A short note about my faith. I am a Christian of the protestant persuasian. My faith is something I cherish and it's something I will write about on this blog because it is inextricably connected to my journey. I know there is an army made up of people from all over the world and many different religions out there reading these posts. I know not all of you will always agree with everything I think or say or believe. If ever I write something you find strange, incomprehensible or offensive, please ask me about it and let's talk.