What a seven months it has been since my cancer diagnosis in October. What a six years it has been since I lost my job at the College. During that time I’ve sent my first two children off to college, I’ve made a new and wonderful life for myself as a high school teacher–complete with new friends, new adventures, and new challenges–and it is one which has been far happier than the one I left behind.
The interesting thing about staring cancer in the face for a few months is how it reorients one’s thinking. It now appears as though the worst is behind me: I have recovered rapidly; I am back at work; the surgeon believes he got all of the cancer; and with each passing day I feel more like my old self. I have held back very little in this blog so I’ll go ahead and say it: to my great happiness, I was able to go back to school NOT wearing Depends! I only needed them for about three days. And today I had my first post-surgery PSA reading and the results came back “undetectable.” Meaning no evidence of cancer cells. One is not pronounced “cured” of prostate cancer for ten long years, so I’ll go in every six months until January 2025 to have my PSA checked. (You are all invited to a party on that day!)
There were a few dark days early on in this adventure–when my numbers looked serious and my PSA level had risen significantly in three months–when it dawned on me “I may not make it out of this alive; I may not live to see my grandchildren.” As the news has gradually improved since then, it has given me the impetus to ask myself that Francis Schaeffer question: “How then should I live?” If this thing had gotten me, would I be satisfied with the life I have led? What do I want the rest of my life to look like whether it is a few years or many years? How do I want to be remembered by my children and grandchildren? A health analysis at Roswell estimated that, apart from Prostate cancer, I can expect to live another 34 years. So now that (it appears) I have been given the precious gift of being around to bug you all for another three and a half decades….what should those years look like? How do I want to set my sails for this sweet journey I’ve been given? This new lease on life is absolutely exhilarating!
I don’t quite have a plan in place yet, I don’t have any plans to run off and join a traveling rock band. I don’t make enough money to buy a Corvette and head out to see the world. And I am blessed to already love the work that I do. But I do know that I want to worry less and laugh more. I want to spend less time stooped over endless stacks of papers and more time interacting with my students and pouring myself into them and being sure that they know I love them. I know that I want to travel more and I want to see my friends in real life and not only in facebook pictures. I want to live a life and not watch others live an imaginary one on television. And I also have resolved to work on my blog to record and process this next phase of my adventure. You are all welcome to follow along for the ride. #TimsNewLife