Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2-Years, Cancer-Free

When you have Cancer, every week, every month, every year is a milepost.

2-years ago I was diagnosed with the first stages of prostate cancer. Today is the 2nd anniversary of the surgery that I have no doubt lengthened as well as changed my life.

I am one of the lucky ones.
We caught it early.
It was contained.
There was no chemotherapy, no radiation.

There have been post-operative complications, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re manageable.

It makes you wonder what the grand scheme really is, though.

As a result of my story, others were checked.
Some were discovered with cancers, and sought treatment in various forms.

One was benign, and is watchfully waiting.
One had the same surgery as I, and was bouncing around at work not long after. (Mike, I am jealous but happy for you!)

One also came thru the surgery in fine form, only to discover months later another form of cancer in his pancreas.
He is constantly in my prayers.

People still come up to me and ask how I am doing.
“How’s your health?”
“Are you well?”
“Are you doing okay?”

Some days I feel like a fortunate man; others, like a circus freak.

Wondering if my body has betrayed me early, or if I would still be noticing these subtleties of middle age, robbing my energy and the smooth, fluid motions of younger days. Would I still feel like a ’55 Chevy on a cold winter’s morning, cranking and cranking and coughing to a start?
Or is this just normal?

“I’m fine,” I say.
“I’m well," I tell them.
“I’m good,” I respond.

And I am, really.
I don’t have pain any more.
I am still wrestling with other physical after-effects, but as I generally say, “not bad for a guy in my shape.”

We all have a date with destiny.
We can look to our parents for clues to our own ultimate demise.
My parents are in their late ‘70’s, and still quite active.

Perhaps I am using up some of that inherited vitality in fighting to regain what the cancer took away. How long will my battery last?

My family tells me I am less patient, more anxious, and easily frustrated by things I used to take for granted. And I admit that I am. Because it now takes more energy, a little more forethought, and some extra planning to get things done that once were accomplished with ease.

Actually, I’ve learned to relax and let others do some things for me. There is a certain peace in being able to let go and allow that.

I’ve learned the value of a day, the brevity of a week, and the swift passage of a month when marking the progress of my recovery and the recoveries of my friends.

When we’re born, we are pre-wired with a clock that tick tick ticks away the allotted seconds of our lives. None of us knows when that great, internal clock will stop.

For some, it’s snuffed out prematurely by accident.
For those that remain, however, it continues to beat time, increment by increment, moment by moment, until the last pulse of energy flickers through our nervous system as our body finally shuts down.

Cancer brought me face to face with that reality.
Cancer taught me to value the time that we have.

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