As we close in on the one-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, I find myself very reflective of the happenings over the last 12 months. I will have another CT scan next week to see if the cancer is still gone. Although we have not seen any sign of it for a few months, my doctor warns me to be only cautiously optimistic, as the cancer that I had is very slow to return. We need to keep watch for a while to be sure it isn't slowly making its comeback.
Honestly, it seems like years since I was diagnosed and sat (or slept) through my treatments. We were looking at family pictures the other evening, and I realized that there were several family activities that I was not able to participate in - there were many pictures of my kids and my wife, without me. As I mentioned in a prior post, I was in denial for a while, and didn't think I had "real" cancer - but now I realize how serious it was, and how those pictures without me could have been foreshadowing the future for my family.
I received the news this morning that a friend of mine who has been struggling with breast cancer passed away last evening. She has 3 young children, and her husband is my age (we were college friends and roommates). I am amazed at how quickly the end came for her. She began chemotherapy shortly after I completed mine, and things seemed to be going well for her. There were a few complications, and earlier this week her doctor informed her that the cancer was too aggressive, and they were going to stop treatments. Two days later, she passed away, leaving her husband to raise her three children.
Over the past year, I have met so many people who have suffered with this disease in one way or another. One of my neighbors survived breast cancer, and had just completed her treatments when I started mine. I have met several others who went through it many years ago, and are now living normal lives. Another neighbor had a close relative pass away from cancer just a couple of months ago.
One year ago, I didn't know anyone with cancer (or so I thought). Now, I don't go a day without thinking about the strange disease, and witness the different effects it has on different people.
Maybe I am just getting older, but my perspective has changed significantly this year. While my work is very satisfying, it no longer defines me - I am not as concerned about what I do, what title I have, how quickly I can climb the job ladder, etc. There is much more to life than work - that is just a way to provide for my family. I do hope that I can make some type of difference in what I do, but the real benefit of life is every day when I come home to my family.
I hope no potential future employers are reading this blog...but for me, I truly believe that there are two phases of my life: life before cancer, and life after. I am blessed to enjoy the latter, and will not ever take that for granted.