Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0730 - Two Years Ago Today, and Now

The past two years have been...interesting. Two years ago today was a Friday, an unanticipated day off work, and the first full day of knowing that I had colorectal cancer.

Since then, so much has happened that it is sometimes difficult even to get a handle on it. The medical story itself has left indelible imprints on me and my family. To say I will never be the same sounds trite and obvious.

But the best part of it all is that I am still here, writing these words, and reflecting on that unwanted journey. I am, as they say, a survivor.

I've made it through colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, MRIs, CT scans, chest and pelvic X-rays, biopsies, cancer board reviews, radiation, surgery, post-surgical complications and hospitalization, blood transfusions, worries about C-difficile, pulmonary embolii, implant of an inferior vena cava filter, chemotherapy, concern about possible recurrence, discharge from the regional cancer centre - twice - to today...four days away from another follow-up colonoscopy with my surgical oncologist at Grand River Hospital.

But I'm here, with my wife and sons, still watching the Raptors win some basketball games, getting ready for the Grey Cup game, putting together a PowerPoint presentation for our WWITPRO user group for tomorrow evening on mind mapping techniques for managing IT projects, searching for a new job because I can work and am very good at what I do, and feeling optimistic about the future.

I've started working on the new generation of Microsoft certifications, beginning with SQL Server 2005, begun working with the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada's advocacy network, providing some leadership with other IT influencers for Microsoft Canada for the IT professional community - in other words, I'm right back in the swing of things.

There are things that I would wish turned out differently, some physical constraints that frustrate me at times, and times when I just can't figure out what my body is doing. I regularly have disruptive nights and my sleep patterns are all over the map. But, like I said before, I'm here, making decisions about diet, exercise, and the future just about like everyone else.

One thing has become very clear, apart from my gratitude for regaining my health. Scratch the surface of just about anyone else, and you'll find similar worries, exposure to cancer or other serious illnesses, and a kaleidoscope pattern of good and bad. I am definitely not alone in this journey. It's just a little different.

To that extent, the past two years have taught me some humbling lessons. This journey has reinforced reflection on the things that matter most and the connections between all of us, whether they be health, illness, loss, hope, fear, love, joy, frustration, gratitude or acceptance.

So while I hope the next 730 days are less "eventful", I hope the lessons of life continue unabated. I hope the "unwanted" nature of my journey gradually dissipates into simply a journey.

No comments: