Year 1, Week 20: Happy New Year

In contrast to last year’s roller coaster, this year was relatively calm and stable, as I continued my recovery from my allo stem cell transplant and progressed to my ‘new normal.

No hard decisions, just a few bumps in the road, and the ability to enjoy life with very few qualifications. I consider myself very fortunate.

Some of the usual markers – holidays, birthdays and anniversaries – and some of the special ones, like our daughter’s high school graduation and the cross-Canada trip with our son. One nice European trip for us, and then the more difficult stay in Geneva, to help my Mother-in-law with her cancer treatment, and a flip from the role of patient to caregiver, with all the echoes of earlier emotions and memories of my treatment.

Some achievements attained, like getting Living with Cancer: A Journey out (now also available in hard copy on Lulu), some not yet like the family tree (‘grunt work’ done, but putting it together in ‘book’ form remains). My blog continued with stable readership and views, and continued to provide an outlet for my health concerns. As I ‘wean’ myself from my cancer identity, I will start to phase down my blog over the next few months, another transition to my ‘new normal,’ and providing me more time for other activities.

While I am not a fan of New Year resolutions, and never sure whether my ‘new year’ should be my transplant date or the calendar one, I do have some objectives:

  • Shift from worrying about transplant-related milestones as my condition is largely stable, to addressing ‘normal’ health issues (e.g., fix my hernia, get hearing aids);
  • Broaden my exercise routine to include yoga to reduce my ongoing stiffness and, hopefully, neuropathy;
  • Finish my family tree; and,
  • Start identifying and working on post-retirement projects as I formally retire this January.

I rarely worry about my basic survival any more. My next family milestones – our son’s university graduation and a planned trip with my daughter late spring – are attainable and reasonable, and help me keep focused. Living in the ‘now’ and the near future, is how I manage the uncertainty and contingency of life, whether in general as it applies to all of us, or my particular circumstances. My next ‘treatment milestone’ is my two-year anniversary this August; at which time all the horrible stats about survival and serious chronic conditions will no longer apply. No guarantees after that, of course, but as time passes …..

Again, I am so thankful and fortunate to be one of the ‘lucky ones,’ as I think of the many, some I knew and some I did not, who are no longer here with us and their families. Life, and being with those we love, is so precious; while none of us should need to go through cancer (or equivalent) to understand this, somehow it deepens the realization and forces one to focus on those most important to us.

And whether struck by cancer, natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, man-made ones like Sandy Hook, or living in the wrong place at the wrong time (sadly, any number of options), we are reminded of our individual and shared vulnerability, and how the support we give each other helps all of us, not just the person suffering.

As I do every  year, this version of Stand by Me best expresses my thanks to all of you who ‘stood by me’ over the past year and continue to do so. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, well worth watching as a great example of how music can bring people together.

And a last note on how our knowledge and understanding remains imperfect and incomplete throughout our life journey, from Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now:

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

So thank you once again, and best wishes for 2013.


9 thoughts on “Year 1, Week 20: Happy New Year

  1. Thrilled for you. Thanks for being open & honest & a great help to others on their journeys. Happy New Year to you & your family. S.

  2. Happy New Year and all the best to you and your family for 2013! Thanks for the reminder to live in the present. I look forward to hearing about your new projects and ventures.

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