In August of 2017, my gastro doctor told me that I likely had three to six months to live. My oncologist suggested I get a back-up for the fall course I was teaching as I might not make it to the end of the semester.
So here I am 16 months later, feeling considerably better than I did back then. I am riding my bike regularly, working in the yard, and going on a cruise in January in preparation for a longer stint of travel this spring.
My four rounds of chemotherapy in the fall were very successful. My monthly x-geva injection has stabilized the bone deterioration of my metastasized cancer. I have received excellent medical care from Touro Infirmary. Now, my oncologist will not offer a prognosis for me as he notes that I have outlived all expectations to date.
But there is much more than the medical and physical to my being alive. I have reasons to get up every day, one day at a time. That understanding from my three decades of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous has proven absolutely key. I thought about this when working in the garden over the past couple of weeks. We had good crops this year and we are looking to expand in 2019. As I have cleared for new beds and hacked through some of our tropical backyard jungle, I initially thought if my future chemo proved less effective and I was not able to eat again, then the garden produce might not be of use. But then I thought too that we have family and friends with whom we already share our crops, and if we could not eat the future crops, we would just share more. I thought too that our gardens are a small step we can take to support our earth in this time of environmental devastation and our government’s inaction. But mostly, I thought, today I am able to work in the garden – I cannot predict what tomorrow will bring any more than when told in the summer of 2017 I had 3 to 6 months to live.
And there is more than one-day-at-a-time to my continued health:
- My wife and best friend Emma has stood by me through the good and bad, particularly in the last year.
- My faith community at Rayne Memorial is a key to my spiritual path and my cancer treatment. I have many friends and opportunities for service that feed me physically and spiritually.
- My weekly meeting with the School for Contemplative Living has led to friendships and a spiritual path that have led me down roads that I would never find alone.
- The book studies that began at Emma’s store on the Artists Way and now moved into other creative directions also provide a community and insights to grow with.
A couple of weeks ago, Emma and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow, we will celebrate a Christmas that I was not supposed to see. Now it is not so much a matter of just being alive, but also to live a life of meaning. Being able to do so is the best Christmas gift I could receive or give.
I am truly blessed and grateful.