Banking On The Envelopes

Now that you know my pill plan, after reading last week’s column; there should be no stopping me, right? Starting me however, is still a problem. Having removed a major impediment (transporting/segregating my pills), one would think I could finally get out of my own way. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple — for me. Sometimes, finding that ‘way’ is equally challenging. I might know the how, and maybe even the why, but the what and the where often remains frequently a block over which I stumble and stammer.

Nevertheless, having allocated my pills accordingly does allow me to think less about the present and more about the future. And planning for one’s future, especially when that ‘one’ is yours truly, a previously diagnosed as “terminal,” non-small cell lung cancer patient, stage IV, whose future was not necessarily foreseen, is more than just a leap of faith. In fact, it’s the stuff of which dreams are often conjured.

What I was given — not promised, was made clear to me in late February 2009 by my oncologist when he advised me that my prognosis was “13 months to two years.” And as much as one (this one) wanted to think about the future/even having a future, I felt it was the present I had to account for first. And though it certainly was a present imperfect and tense a great deal of the time, over hill and over dale and continuing/supplementing my standard chemotherapy treatment/regimen with a variety of nonWestern alternatives, I have managed to overcome my ‘present’ focus and begin to consider a future well beyond my original prognosis.

As the years have indeed passed, I have begun to believe in the power of the present surely, but mostly in how it might provide a foundation for a future; providing a “nutty and bolty” approach as to how I can navigate this mind/mine field (literally and figuratively) of outrageous misfortune and find a path of least resistance. As much as I want to get from here to there, I suppose I’ve needed a framework of sorts, a routine that would enable me to think without consulting the manual, so to speak. A manual which offers few guarantees and less-than-encouraging mortality tables, however much improved they are over previously diagnosed generations of lung cancer patients (although still the leading cause of cancer deaths and new diagnosis yearly in this country).

Given these realities, I am well aware — and extremely grateful for my survival. Has it been random luck? Good DNA? A bit of a misdiagnosis? An open mind to the potential benefits of lifestyle changes, diet, occasional exercise and non-Western approaches to treating cancer/boosting one’s immune system? Certainly I don’t know — and don’t care, quite frankly. All I know is what I’ve been told: whatever I’m doing, keep doing it, which seems perfectly logical and manageable for me (“if it ain’t broke …”).

If I were to consider, for a minute what has pulled forward to the future/present rather than backwards into the abyss, I think it would be hope. Not simply hope that what I was doing would work/extend my life, but more so that it gave me something to think positively about. And I’m not even sure that is an accurate distinction. All I know is that “bank-enveloping” my pills has given me one less thing to fuss about concerning my diagnosis and allows me, potentially, to live my cancer-affected life as normally (pre-cancer diagnosis), as possible. At least, I hope so.

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