Most of us with stage IV brain cancer (or any type of cancer, really) talk and think about how far ahead we plan our lives. At first it’s ‘recovering from surgery’, then ‘getting through radiation’, and other short-term, cancer related ‘milestones’.
Then it’s 4 week MRIs…8 week MRIs…12 week MRIs… And with any luck it doesn’t go backward from there. We feel nervous about planning anything beyond those timeframes. We live MRI to MRI.
At some point, when things are going well, we might venture out beyond the 12 weeks and plan a trip/vacation or buy concert tickets for a show 6 months away.
BIG family milestones might be too much – entering high school, first dates, driver’s license, graduations, weddings, babies. Those may be too far out and we can only tentatively hope beyond hope that we are here to witness it all. (My kids are 8 and 11, so we’re a ways off from most of those)
So, you start to find other, safer perhaps, big events that push you forward in your fight. Maybe it’s the World Series, the Superbowl or the World Cup if you’re a big sports fan. Maybe it’s the harvest if you’re a gardening fanatic and have been waiting 3 years for that Avocado tree to produce something…even just one avocado. Maybe if you are glued to political drama, it’s to view actual bipartisan decision-making in Congress or witness politicians representing the people instead of the money. Ok, that last one isn’t very realistic, but you get the idea.
For me (family milestones aside), I aim my survival goals at when the next Diana Gabaldon novel is coming out. I aim for making it through the final part of season one of Outlander on Starz (April can’t come soon enough.) I aim to see if I finally make a decision on joining a yoga studio. Can I get to 10,000 steps a day? Are there enough recipes to use all of my son’s harvest of sweet potatoes? Will the dog EVER learn to get his leash on his own when we’re going for a walk instead of staring at me while I suggest the idea? Will I ever get up the courage to make artisanal vegan cheese? Will we ever learn who was responsible for making that idiotic last call for the Seahawks causing them to lose the championship?
These may not be the most important survival goals in the grander scheme of things, but they all take me past the next MRI. They get me back to living for tomorrow and beyond regardless of what my brain tumor cells decide to do.
My next MRI is Friday, by the way.