This time last year, I had been told I had lymphoma and was waiting for the biopsy to find out exactly how bad my type would be. I was scared. And very worried. What about my family? What about my job? And yes - how long would I have before I kicked the bucket?
One year later, I am happier than I've ever been, having fun in retirement knocking things off my bucket list, and I have decades to go before I kick that bucket. All things considered, it was a very good year. I was just looking back at notes I made throughout the year, and here's what I learned. (Don't expect a lot of pithy statements that will end up needlepointed on pillows unless you're truly desperate for something to needlepoint.)
Exercise really is as important as everyone says it is. I've never been one to get up in the morning and go for a brisk 10-mile jog. In fact, if I am ever found on a jogging trail, you can be certain that I was murdered elsewhere and dumped there. But at my sickest, I found that even a little bit of walking helps tremendously. It's how nature gets your whole system working well.
Early to bed, and early to rise... who am I kidding? Vampires greet sunrise with more enthusiasm than I do. But I couldn't agree more with the early-to-bed part; getting 8 hours of sleep every night is really important, it's when your body does repairs. Getting that sleep gives your body more of a chance to fix cells before they turn rogue on you, and more time to heal if they do. It takes me an hour or two to get to sleep now, so it's lights out early for me. This has been the hardest ongoing change for me to make.
Spend every hour on what's important. When you fully realize that you do not have an unlimited number of days, you realize how important it is to spend every hour wisely. For me, what's important is family, friends, and faith.
You really can take more than you think you can. You just don't know what you can take until you have to. I never believed that old adage "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," but I have to admit that meeting personal adversity head-on is how we grow or at least how we get a little tougher and wiser.
So - take THAT, cancer!
I just got the results back from my 6-month PET scan and (drum roll, please) - I got another all-clear! Six months and not a sign of any rogue cancer cells anywhere.
I'm not out of the danger zone until August, but I'm confident I'll keep getting all-clears. Why yes, that is the sound of a cork popping that you hear; it's time to celebrate! What a difference a year makes.