On April 1st our family celebrated my 10-year survival from a terminal cancer!
Katherine and I described how we fought cancer in our memoir, The Good Fight: A Story of Cancer, Love, and Triumph. My cancer was rare, aggressive, and in 2004 I was given virtually zero chance of long term survival.
Our world collapsed when I was diagnosed, and I was only able to measure life in small increments. Would I be alive tomorrow? Next week? Could I make it through the upcoming chemo or radiation treatment? Would I be able to be there when our three-year-old daughter, Emerson, started school? Being alive in 10 years was an impossible dream!
My feelings of gratitude increased at the same time my life was coming to an end. Cancer destroyed the complacency that I lived with most of my life. I was no longer able to take anything for granted. Knowing I would likely die at any minute was life-changing. I was finally able to see family, friends, blazing sunsets——everything——as the ephemeral miracles they were.
Being able to finally eat a tiny forkful of solid food once my mouth began to heal was a huge accomplishment. Gradually, days turned into weeks, weeks morphed into months, and twelve months turned into a year. Six-month scans became yearly scans. The cancer had disappeared. Gone forever? Who knows, but we are thrilled to be surviving terminal cancer for so long!
Is it gone forever? No one can say. As Yogi Berra said, “Predictions are hard to make——especially about the future.” All I know for sure is that all things must pass.
I’ve been given the gift of ten extra years. To be honest, I’d like at least four more, and be able to watch Emerson graduate from high school. But I know that worrying about the future only serves to destroy the magic of the present moment that I have learned to savor.