Superstitious? Check. March 16, 2014

Friends and family,

Wow, did I miss the target! Two weeks ago I wrote and told you that my next scan would be in a couple of months. A week later I looked at my work schedule and saw the CT scan scheduled... two days away! Where did those other two months go???

Did this mean that I was taking for granted the time that I have? Am I not appreciating each day enough? Or maybe it's a good sign that I'm staying in the present? My brain has been working overtime on this one for the past few days. If you've been around me during that time, this will explain where that burning smell came from.

You're getting a very small sample of the rumination that goes on about what it takes to "do it right". There is an almost magical believe that if I find the secret formula, it will keep me alive. I must have my mantras, I must have my mantras...

You can see this happen with professional athletes all the time. A baseball player's career hinges on his batting average. If he gets four hits in two games, and he hasn't shaved, he might just not shave again until he has a game without a hit. I'm betting you've heard more than one story about a pitcher who won't wash his "lucky" socks until he loses a game. I've watched pro basketball players place a hand on the sole of each shoe each time before shooting a free throw.

So what do I have in common with professional athletes? Other than that they are athletes, got drafted, and have talent???

More than you think! First, the stakes are high for all of us (though I will claim victory in the higher stakes contest). Next, we're all trying to control things that are at least partially out of control.

A great three-point shooter makes 40% of his shots. A great batter gets a hit about 30% of the time. And a Stage IV lung cancer survivor... Well that's a stat I'm not going to look up. Probably ever. Call it superstition.

Going through treatment, of course, is within my control. But all the other factors that impact survival have not been studied to any extent. I treat each of them as if they are critical to my survival, without knowing for sure if any of them really have an impact.

At least I know I'm not alone in this one. Genevieve has her own routines to keep me alive, other people I know with cancer do this, and other people I know who had cancer in the past are still doing this. We make our own mental list, like a pilot's pre-flight checklist, and the stakes seem almost as high. We hang on to this list for dear life. Forget to check your wing flaps and your plane may just fly off the end of the runway.

So here's my own personal, customized, different-than-anyone-else's pre-flight checklist:

• Positive attitude? Check.
• Taking in the love and support of friends and family? Check.
• GIVING love and support to friends and family? Check.
• Appreciating each moment? Check.
• Finding the gifts in every situation? Check.
• Exercise? Check.
• Diet? Semi-check. (umm, the mochas and ice cream may not be on the plan.)
• Having fun? Check.
• Keeping perspective? Check
• Taking time to reflect? Check.

Now that I've shared my checklist, I've held back long enough. Time to share the news with you. On Thursday my oncologist gave us the results of my CT scan. The cancer is stable! Three more excellent months!

Gratitude? Big check!

Now I have ninety more wonderful days of living in the moment, doing what I'm doing that I think is working for me, ticking off my checklist, over and over.

I just have one favor to ask of you. Cut me a little slack if my socks start to smell.