Here we are again after 4:00 in the morning and I’m still wide awake, but I think I’m getting used to it. I don’t feel tired the next day and I usually sleep pretty well the next night, so I guess it’s just another part of the new normal developing while I’m on this immunotherapy regimen for the next five months. The positive side of this is that I finally have time to write, something I haven’t set aside regular time for in about three years.
And I have something to write about, something that other MM patients can relate to. I can affirm for them that they are not alone on their journey, that others like me can empathize with the daily challenges we all face. I find it heartbreaking that some of us may not experience the blessing of a long journey. This incurable cancer treats us all in unique ways, and I am so grateful for the medical advances that have boosted the chances of so many of us to live with this as a chronic rather than terminal condition.
That doesn’t mean that I can prevent that daily reminder that springs into my head every morning when I open my eyes. It’s a process: accept what is; be grateful for what I have; and resolve to live each day as best I can.
But a few hours ago something changed, just a little bit. We were at my granddaughter’s spring choir concert, where the music from those middle school voices was beautiful and memorable, selections from Disney movies, when I teared up as I remembered going to my daughter’s choir concerts twenty years ago. I instantly went into planning mode, because it’s what I do and who I am, and started thinking ahead to how we schedule our winter and spring visits to not miss her middle school and high school concerts over the next six years.
For a few minutes I broke out of that short term mindset and it felt really good. My wife had to gently reel me back in, reminding me for now to live “one day at a time”, but at least for a few minutes I got to be me again, and not some cancer patient who might not even be around in six years. I can accept that it’s ok to make plans, as long as I remember that plans may change, and a plan B is a really good idea.
Maybe I’m beginning to adjust to this daily mental exercise and open up to some broader perspectives on life and how I choose to live it. I do know I would not have the strength to move in this new direction without the prayers and encouragement I get every day from my family and friends. I’ve asked for and received their support, and along with my faith to lean on, I know I am not alone in this fight.
I’m adjusting to this new normal in other ways as well, but this mental reset to thinking bigger is an important step in recognizing that life is still unpredictable, as it always was. We don’t need to let it constrain our thinking so much that we stop looking to the future, that we stop wishing, and dreaming and putting some timetables on those dreams. For now, I guess I’m remembering that cancer didn’t change me, it’s just helping me rediscover …
Who I really am, and who God made me to be – Pops