I have a reasonably advanced stage of cancer. I had mixed feelings about whether I would raise the issue on this blog. I don’t want folks to feel sorry for me, psychoanalyze my attitudes, consider my writings as some self-promotion, or speak of my courage. Fifteen years ago I gave an AA lead at a church on Recovery Sunday. I was amazed at the number of folks who came up to me afterward and said they admired me for having the courage to tell so much about myself. I thought about the deep dark secrets these folks must carry that could be relieved through a 4th and 5th step process. There really is not much courage involved in my being an open book – it is what has kept me sober for over 30 years. I don’t really have anything to hide.
But more importantly, I thought about the AA mandate to share our experience, strength, and hope. There is not much about my life I have not shared in an AA meeting or on this blog. And again, that has been a part of my staying sober all these years. So too, as the Promises state, our experiences can benefit others. I have to assume that there are lots of others folks out there in my situation. So, I want to learn from them and share with them too.
Immediately after my diagnosis all of those AA clichés, lessons, and experiences proved absolutely instrumental to my putting one foot in front of the other. My immediate response was that I have been on borrowed time for many years. Had I not gotten sober 30 some years ago, I would be long dead, for sure. That I have been given these 30 years of sobriety is an incredible gift.
When I was riding my bike a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at a park to sit and read for a bit. I thought about how much I really enjoy bike riding and sitting in the park and and just relaxing. I decided I could lament that might come to an end sooner than I would like, or I could enjoy and be more mindful and intentional of the time I can spend in such activities now.
So, after one month of prodding, poking, scans and so much more, I know that I have a good bit of cancer in my bones, that my organs and blood seem clear, and the prognosis is considerably less than certain – from 6 months to many years. And I certainly don’t want to pretend or in any way imply that I am not reasonably devastated by all of this. HAVING CANCER SUCKS – and that is before even beginning any of the treatments which as I understand are their own kind of misery.
When my wife and I were talking about this earlier today, I noted that if I were not sober and in recovery, I would not consider our nearly 20 wonderful years together thus far, but only focus on how unfair it all is and how I never got my chance at life, and I would have just gone out and got drunk – my alcoholic m.o. to everything good or bad.
We talked too about how I really don’t have any place else that I want to go or anything else to do that I have not already done in life. We did discuss cutting a lot of the extraneous things from our lives and focus on a quality of time together in our retirement home here in New Orleans. As my post-bike wreck walking stamina improves, we will less drive somewhere and sit with the dog, and more take walks. With the assurance of at least one more southern growing season, today I cleared out the okra and cucumber beds to prepare for the fall crops. And so forth.
Life truly is a process and not an event – now being in both recovery and having cancer is a part of that process. Didn’t see that one coming!!