Saturday, October 06, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0681 - Two years, moment-by-moment

Two years ago today, I was in Toronto at a TechNet tour at Paramount theatre, learning a little about the forthcoming Windows Vista, the XBox 360, and Windows Mobile 5.0. Einsteinfest was also underway in Waterloo at the Perimeter Institute as an alternative to the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. And I was waiting for an anticipated trip to San Diego followed later in the month by a colonoscopy.

It's amazing how much can change in a mere 730 days. Since then I've been diagnosed with rectal cancer, received radiation, undergone surgery, suffered through post-surgical complications, been treated with chemotherapy, lost 30 pounds, gained it back, and begun losing weight again; I've watched as my aunt lost a foot to melanoma, retired from co-founding a regional IT Pro user group, struggled back into full-time work and rejoined the IT Pro user group executive, written many, many blogs about cancer experience, and been discharged from care at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre twice.

But here I am, alive, and celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with my immediate family. I've had much to be grateful for in these two years, some of which is terribly obvious, some of which is the consequence of attitude adjustment and thereby less apparent. This long weekend provides me with an opportunity to reflect on the course of the past two years, lessons learned, and new directions available to me.

When I read my own posts for the past two years, I'm struck by the range of feelings and the contingent nature of conclusions I reached. One thing for sure, as I reread these entries, is that I realize I cannot take myself or my "conclusions" too seriously since they keep shifting. I look for directions and development, hoping to find maturation of thought and feeling, but often finding nothing more than someone buffeted by live's circumstances and doing his best to figure it all out. I find myself as an example that who we think we are is mainly ephemeral, a mist blown about like the fog of an early autumn morning.

True, there is something that is constant as well, patterns of temperament, habits of thought and behavior, and propensities for verbal descriptions. But the bottom line of the two-year review is that I am what I happen to be at a particular moment in time. Take it or leave it, what you get in this unwanted journey is me in the moment, nothing more, nothing less.

And for that, too, I am thankful. That changing me is just an accelerated version of what would otherwise been the case without cancer. Yes, I dearly wish things would have been better in a variety of ways for the past 730 days. But they have by no means been all bad. Even the worst of this experience with cancer has meant flashes of illumination and moments of discovery and realization. And at this particular moment, I feel optimistic about my health and my options for the future.

For instance, tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving Sunday by going as a family of four to Martini's Restaurant in Kitchener. I'll be eating something from the menu that is whole foods and plant-based while the others in my family will undoubtedly partake of the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and typical fare for the season. I'll look across the table and realize that I'm a rich man. I have a wife whom I love dearly and who loves me, two sons who have become smart and mature young men whom I also dearly love and who also love and respect me. We are very different people, different from who we were two years ago, different from each other in many significant ways, and different from who we will become. But this weekend, in this place, we're together, being thankful and enjoying the moment.

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