A Fantastic Boring Report! October 10, 2013

Friends and Family,

Today we got the results of my latest CT scan, and the news is……. BORING! Nothing has changed! Isn’t that great?

I feel like a sailor who lands at port and can barely walk… because the ground isn’t moving. I have my sea legs, but I don’t have land legs yet! It’s so normal that I’m still trying to adjust.

No growth. No shrinkage. No planned next step. The “wonder drug” shrunk the cancer just enough so I can breathe normally, and is now holding the cancer exactly where it is. We’re not waiting for the next treatment, because we don’t know what it will be.

So what am I supposed to do????

I won’t claim to have the answers, but I will tell you that I have spent a lot of time thinking about the question. When I think about how my time may be limited, these are the things that are important to me:

1. LIVE IN THE PRESENT. I don’t know if I’ll be around for my granddaughter’s next birthday, so I better make the most of this one. I don’t know if I will see my sister again, so I want to enjoy the time I have while she is in town. I don’t even know if I will see the spring, so I better make sure that I have a balance between work and play… and enjoy both now.

2. HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Any situation feels so much better when I can find a reason for gratitude. For example, I still have bone pain, caused by the spread of cancer. That makes it difficult to walk more than three or four blocks. Although that bothers me a lot, it bothers me a whole lot less since I remembered that the first place that lung cancer usually spreads is to the brain. I am extremely grateful that it spread in the other direction. I can live with a little bone pain, but if my brain had been affected I would have lost my tools for coping. This is an enormous gift!

3. RECOGNIZE AND TREASURE THE GIFTS IN YOUR LIFE. I know what a gift Genevieve has been to me. I know what a gift it has been to have each of you as my friends and family. Yes, even cancer has been a gift. It has changed how I think, how I relate to people, and how I understand the world. Except for the near-death part, it has been almost all very positive. My perspective on life, my relationships, and my attitude have all changed for the better because of cancer.

4. STAY CONNECTED. To the people around you, to the things you are doing… if you’re not getting the most out of THIS moment, RIGHT NOW, what are you waiting for? Once this moment is gone, you won’t get it back. Use it or lose it!

5. KEEP PERSPECTIVE. The view is a lot clearer when you can step back and take a look at the big picture. For example, is chemo enjoyable? Absolutely not! BUT… I am still alive seven years after I first had chemo. This is about six and a half years longer than expected, and I’m still going strong. Chemo has given me a lot more time on this planet, so I would gladly start chemo again tomorrow if that’s what it takes.

Of course, this treatment could continue working for many years, or until I die of old age. Or it could keep working long enough for me to start on the next new treatment, and the next. I could live to be 104 years old. Would I feel tricked or cheated because I was living by the things I just told you about? Not a chance! I would feel even more blessed that I was forced to realize that time really is precious, regardless of how much of it we have left.

TAKE THE SHORTCUT! Pretend that you have cancer for a day. See how it brings the important things into focus for you. And if you can find the gifts in your life without needing the chemo, consider yourself extremely blessed.