Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm Still Here

Finally a good pic Dec 2010


Months have gone by since I last posted to this blog. I think there are so many reasons for this and I will share some of them in future posts. I have a whole list of possible post subjects and I’m committed to posting a least twice a week. 

But more importantly I want to tell you what prompted me to write this blog today. Earlier this week a friend sent me an email with a link to “This American Life” radio show. She heard an episode that made her think of me. The episode of the show was called “Slow to React”. As I started reading about the different segments of this episode it became evident to me that it was about people who moved slowly and in many cases it is an insult. I started to wonder what it this could have reminded her of me. 

Act 3 of the show was titled “I’m Still Here” It is about a woman that has been living with stage IV breast cancer for 18 years. She talks about a time when your outlook evolves and there comes a time when you wake up and realize that you have not died yet and you have to adjust. It took her 14 years to get comfortable with fact that she is going to be here and how does she live a life after planning to die? What do I do with a life now? She finds she has to argue herself back into life a lot. 

There are so many reasons why this radio segment spoke to me. I have been struggling with the fact that I am still alive and since I was busy planning for my death I did not plan for an extended future. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that this unexpected time has come about, but I do not know what I am supposed to do with it. I am not cured, my stage IV and terminal status has not changed, and it appears that death is not imminent. I have no idea how much time I do have, so now I ask myself everyday: What am I going to do with my life now? I have many thoughts on how to answer that question so stay tuned to future posts. 

In the interview she talks about a breast cancer message board that she is involved in. Each year on her cancerversary she writes an entry on the forum titled “I’m Still Here”. Here are excerpts from her posts from the last two years. 

Jan 2010
“I feel like throwing open the window and shouting that to the world, because as of today, I've stayed alive for seventeen years with stage four breast cancer--fifteen years past my predicted expiration date.”   

Jan 2011
"I'm writing from India to say that as of today, I've been alive 18 years with Stage 4. If someone had told me then that I'd be in India--or anywhere--18 years down the road, I'd have thought they were deluded or being cruel. As I've mentioned before, there was no hope when I was rediagnosed, and then somehow there was. Just as cancer can take some unexpected bad turns, it can take some unexpectedly good ones too. This computer's going to go down any minute, so I'll end here, but not before saying I wish everyone the most unexpected year, in the best way."

I have not celebrated cancerversaries. I could not get any energy around observing the day my world got spun around and did not want that yearly reminder that I was still fighting the disease and have not had the success story of being cured. Considering that I am now two years past my projected expiration date, I am starting to believe that maybe I do have an event to celebrate – the fact I am still alive. I am now going to start a cancerversary, the celebration of each year I am still here. 

So here it is - my shout out to the world.   I AM STILL ALIVE, two years after my "death date" and still going.   I am like the energizer bunny, my batteries will not run out.   They get a little slow at times but keep on beating.

The radio show ended with a song, it was “This Year” by The Mountain Goats. There is a line in the song that says: “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me” I think that makes a perfectly good motto for 2011. What do you think?

Hit play if you want to hear "This Year", The Mountain Goats



Here is the link to the show mentioned in the post:
When you click on Play Episode, Act Three starts at 44:47