The past year has been some experience. In July I found out I had cancer. A big death-star-resembling tumor was growing in my bladder. Yikes. Scary.
The good news is that after some wrangling with my HMO I finally got the tumor removed. There’s a good chance I’m completely cancer free and this month I’m following up with immunotherapy to make certain.
Having cancer is scary. Even the idea of cancer is scary. Even the word cancer can seem scary. To make matters worse it came at a time when I was pretty financially unstable. Suddenly there was this big urgent thing in my life. I knew that I wanted to deal with it directly but that I wanted the experience to be part of the life journey that I’m already on, not a side-step or an everything stops kind of thing. Nobody knows what the future can bring or how much time we have left. Things could get suddenly worse and overwhelming or maybe they won’t. Life could be short or it could be long. We don’t have control of these things, but we can control the way we react to them. Even that is not as simple as it sounds.
So I started reaching out to people. I reached out to more people in one month than I did in my entire life. I reached out to family, to friends, to people I knew who had experienced cancer, to the Quaker community that Kathy & I are part of. I got together with friends, talked on the phone and traded back and forth a lot of emails and texts. I knew that good council on many levels was necessary. I also knew that it was important, for my own sanity, for me to take charge, to understand the details of the cancer and I knew that talking and listening would help me do that.
People have asked me if having cancer changed me. From my perspective, I’m always changing, in leaps and bounds; in musical ability and self-awareness. I can look back a week, a month, a year and say wow, all the perspective I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve had. Cancer was a big urgent thing that forced me to react very directly and intentionally. It gave me an opportunity to put self love into practice. I learned about what it felt to have cancer and through that I gained a perspective on the journey that people go through when they’re not the one with cancer but the one who’s loved one has cancer.