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Mar. 18th, 2010 | 12:22 am

Looks like I'm down to just an annual update cycle at this point! This is a good thing, mostly because it means that cancer isn't generally playing a daily or even weekly role in my life anymore.

I went in for a CT/PET scan a couple of months ago. It was a bit early because I was having some urological issues that they just wanted to make sure were not cancer related. They weren't, however they did find two nodules on my thyroid gland. These are NOT cancerous and are actually fairly common in humans on a whole, but they wanted me to get an ultrasound to get a baseline reading since they seem to be irritating my lymph nodes in the area. Anyway, another scan with no cancer.

I know that I just said that cancer isn't generally playing a daily or even weekly role in my life anymore, but I have to admit that since being diagnosed, death is.

I don't mean that I am morbidly obsessed with death, nor do I think I am going to die anytime soon, but having that "brush" with it sure does make things stick a lot more. What I mean is that death, dying, the whole impossibility of us even being alive in the first place is never too far out of my mind.

I don't think I appreciated life nearly as much before I had cancer and really had to look at the fact that I had a disease that could actually kill me. For real. It's given me a lot more patience with some things (like people who can't ever seem to get it together) and lot more impatience with others (like handing over my whole life for some stupid job in retail that doesn't matter- why did I do that for so many years?) I realize now that life is not about killing yourself for a job that makes you miserable or for making lots of money, but rather about having experiences and friends and family and even pets. Above all I have realized that life is about living it the way you want to. We're all going to die at some point and I never want to look back and think, "Oh why didn't I try all those things I wanted to?!"

Looking over the past three years my life experience has grown so much. Heather and I got married. I went back to school. I finally went to NY, LA, back to MI to see my friends/family, to the Brown County Fair (who knew I would love a tractor pull so much?!), went to a rock climbing gym (and loved it despite my fear of heights), on a 25+ mile bike ride, I got a horse (and goat), my wife and I went to the Bahamas (my first time out of the country besides Canada) where we swam with dolphins and I went deep sea fishing, I went on my first mancation (which was also a first "whitewater" rafting trip,) I was a groomsman in a wedding, I went paddleboarding, I got a motorcycle and am learning how to repair it, I made new friends and finally had the courage to let go of the toxic ones I had in my life, I went fishing with my father for the first time in 20 years, the list goes on and there's still so much more I want to do. Above all though I've learned what I was capable of and who I want to be. Still haven't quite figured out "what" I want to be (as in career), but that's just a side-note to the rest as far as I'm concerned.

I think a lot of this has been at the forefront of my mind over the past week because I found out that one of my ex-coworkers who I was friends with (but haven't seen in a long time and we never really did much outside of work) is dying from ovarian cancer. I knew she was diagnosed a while ago, but I just found out that it has spread and she only has about two months to live. I think this is hitting me particularly hard for two reasons, both of which are pretty self-centered.

The first is that I have not been to see her nor have I talked to her or her partner (who I was also casual friends with.) I feel shitty about this and had not been able to figure out why I haven't. Thinking about it today though I think that somewhere in my head I thought that if I didn't treat her cancer as anything but a temporary setback that it would go away. It sounds a bit superstitious I know, but that's what I thought, even if it wasn't on a totally conscious level.

The second is that I now know she is dying and I don't know if I can go see her. Part of it is the usual human stuff: I don't know what to say, I don't know how to act, etc etc. But, another part of it is that I have a lot of anxiety around this whole thing. The further away I've gotten physically from having cancer and the consequent treatment, the more I've realized that I have a lot of PTSD about it. And I mean that literally. I have blocked a lot of the more horrific aspects (for me) of my treatment out and though I can read back through this journal and know that I went through it, if I really let myself "feel" it or go back to that place emotionally I kind of freak out. I know it's not healthy and the day is fast approaching where I will get into counseling for it, but I have an overwhelming fear that if I go see her, it's really going to trigger a lot of shit for me and I don't know if I'm ready to deal with that yet.

Which, again, makes me feel kind of crappy because knowing that someone is dying from a disease that you had, that could have killed you (and still could if it came back) and it was just by the grace of the universe that it didn't, and then not going to see them because of self-centered reasons seems....well, clearly selfish.

I know what to do with people who have just been diagnosed or are just starting treatment. I know what to do for people when there is even an inkling of hope, but I am lost when it comes to a situation where the person is going to die.

And so it is again that I am thinking about death a lot. I hope that I can pull together the courage or whatever to go see my friend and her partner. And I hope that now that she knows that death has come to her life that when she looks back she does not think, "Oh why didn't I try all those things I wanted to do?!" But, I have a feeling that her life has been pretty full as she does not seem like one who lived it meekly.

I just know that for the time I have left I want to actually live life so that on my deathbed the same can be said about me.

Here's to moving on to year four cancer free.

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