I still don't know that. I am delighted to still be here and to be feeling so good. However, to be frank, I don't know if I'll be alive for my next birthday.
I don't say this to be morbid ... it's merely my reality. Right now, there's no reason to believe that cancer will kill me in the next year, but I've seen this disease take very fast and vicious turns that make people's heads spin. I'm aware of this, but most without cancer are not.
Several people have asked me if I am afraid and I think I can genuinely say that I am not. Sure, I have bad days, but overall, I am not afraid of death. In fact, I almost feel as if the weight of uncertainty has been lifted from me. For many, the years following a primary cancer diagnosis are filled with dread as aches and pains are reviewed as a potential cancer return. For me, I already know I have cancer and that it's just a matter of time before it takes over.
We all live with the certainty of death. An opinion piece for the NY Times stated my emotions well:
"I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live." http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/25/opinion/sunday/how-long-have-i-got-left.html?_r=0&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Opinion&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pg
I celebrated turning 51 in a quiet way. I got to sleep in a bit, went to the gym, watched Michael play his last indoor soccer game, hung out in the afternoon and then went out to dinner in the evening. I was quite tired and went to sleep early, but with a satisfied smile on my face. I enjoyed receiving greetings from every continent and from countless countries, from friends from all walks of my life. God had given me another year and it was good.
It's all good ... even when it doesn't feel that way. I'm struggling to not sound pithy and cliche when I say God is good because I truly mean it. God is good, all the time, even when circumstances don't seem to reflect that. Because I am now a part of a very large cancer community, I sometimes struggle with those who post positive scan results (or positive blood work, or positive surgeries) with the adage, "God is good!" Yes, he is ... but he is also good when the scan results are poor or the blood work is bad or the surgeries are unsuccessful. His goodness is not dependent upon our physical circumstances.
So even if I don't make it to my 52nd birthday, God is still good. He has a plan for my life and my "job" is to live that plan, regardless of the number of days.
Thank you for being a part of his plan.