Monday, October 23, 2006

Who Knew?

Five months ago tomorrow, I was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, and I was told that typically, folks live two to six months following diagnosis. Who knew that five months later I would be working, feeling good, still recovering from surgery, but showing no signs (to date) of the cancer spreading? Who knew?

At the time, I took on my mortality as fully as we can while alive and feeling essentially healthy. That's why one of the first questions I asked when I began this blog was "If you had just six months or a year to live, would you want to know?" And if you would want to know, how would that knowledge impact your life, day to day?

Taking on my mortality, and what seemed to be impending death, I wondered if I'd be alive to see the "06 midterm election" results, now two weeks away. I wondered where in the house my hospice bed should go. I wondered how I could possibly explain to my children that this illness had come on so unexpectedly, and that I was about to leave them with so little notice, so little time to say good-bye, to hug and kiss and love enough for the future time to be missed. And, more mundanely, I thought about some of my favorite television shows, and wondered how the plot would evolve in the fall, and then in the winter, and spring. Less mundanely, I thought I would not be able to teach again, and I grieved the thought of not teaching the new freshman class I had been prepping for months (and that I took to see the "Body Worlds" exhibit I wrote about a few weeks ago).

I no longer take my life, my continuing life, for granted, and I realize that tomorrow the proverbial bus could strike me, and then I would have died within that six month window. I do not assume that the good news of no evidence of cancer will continue forever, or even as long as I want it to.

And, I am grateful for the experiences these last five months have brought; the opportunities to love deeply; to laugh uproariously; to meditate intentionally and converse with those life threatening cancer cells; to stand with my students and explore new territory, new information, new ideas; to allow others to love me well and to express their care and concern in words and deeds.

I feel sadness with the changing season, watching the dying, browning leaves spreading over the yard, tree branches baring for winter. And I also feel gratitude to be here to see the season change. It was early summer when I was diagnosed five months ago. I have lived a summer and most of a fall since then, and I am grateful. And I wish for many, many more seasons to change during the span of my life.

But, five months ago, who knew?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a darned good reason to celebrate!!
Susan H

Anonymous said...

Hi thanks for leaving a comment on my blog,and I have to say from what you write in this post and some others I have read you seem to be living a more spiritual life since being diagnosed,and having had a health problem myself can relate to a lot of what you say glad things are ok and hope they continue to do so.

I suppose in hindsight its not until something goes wrong in life that it does make you think how precious life and your health really is.