I have always been a forward thinker. My brain processes a plan then immediately calibrates how it will affect our life in 6 days, 6 months, 6 years. I would not classify this as one of my better traits. That ‘living in the moment’ honky was never something I could get on board with.
But then here comes cancer. Cancer forces you to look at life in the micro. What is happening to my body right now? How do I feel physically and mentally right now? How will I get through the next 3 hours until I can take the next dose of pain meds? Minutiae.
Surprisingly, this seismic shift in thinking hasn’t been very hard for me. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t had much of a choice, but it also may be because logically I know that today is all I can handle.
If I had to pick some silver linings of cancer, this would be one of them. I’m not worried about that trip we might take in the fall, I am worried about what my next drain output will be. It’s freeing in a way. It’s calming. All I have to worry about is the present. Namaste 🙏🏻.
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t think about my future. But I do think of it in different terms. Instead of ‘Ugh, I need Botox’ (which I do btw, if someone wants to give me a couple units of the B instead of a casserole I’m totes down with that), it’s more like ‘When I don’t have cancer anymore, life may look like ____.’
As much as this new short-term perspective benefits me, it also has its drawbacks. When something is happening now that bothers me, every second feels like an eternity.
I am like my dad in that I like to look at dates backwards. He was famous for his notes, perfectly written in pencil using a ruler for straight lines.
He would start at the top of the page with ‘When the plane took off’ and he would work backwards, minute by minute, until he needed to leave the house.
- Flight leaves 4:43pm
- Get to gate at 4:05pm
- Get to security at 3:17pm
- Arrive at airport at 2:50pm
- Leave the house at 2:10pm
This is what I am doing with chemo.
- Chemo #1 July 5
- Port placed by June 27
- Drain out by June 21 (exactly 2 weeks after surgery)
So here we are at June 23. Drain still in and port placement tomorrow. You may have noticed that in my dream plan (which did seem attainable, by the way), I would have had 6 days in between drain removal and port surgery. As of this moment, I will be having the port surgery tomorrow with the drain still in place.
I wanted 6 days without a drain or a surgery. Then I hoped for 5 days, then 4, then 3, dear sweet baby Jesus 2? Come ON, 1?!
Yeah, nope. My body did not comply with all posted signs and placards.
All I really wanted was 1 day. 1 day to just be myself. No drains, no surgeries. 1 day.
I had big dreams for this day. Here’s what I was going to do: maybe take a light jog, an easy yoga class, go to the boxing gym and just kick things. Anything that would make me feel like myself.
But instead, here I sit, drain in and approaching the 12 hour cut off for food and drink for surgery tomorrow.
My day never came. Now of course I understand that I have thousands of days of freedom in my future, but since my perspective has shifted to the short term, this 1 day I craved so intensely feels like a thousand days. I am mourning the mere idea of the 1 day of cancer freedom I thought I would have.
Instead, the time clock starts over tomorrow with this next surgery and immediately after recovering from that, months of chemo.
It is a sad day in Graceland. I wanted my day.