Sunday, August 18, 2013
Before I got diagnosed with cancer, Jim and I had been planning the trip of a lifetime....actually a series of trips. We had planned to do a self-supported bicycle tour around the perimeter of the United States and another one around the perimeter of Australia. We expected to be spending this summer taking a series of shorter trips to prepare and then begin in September biking down the Pacific coast.
We got two of our planned shorter trips in before "cancer interuptus" tossed that plan out the window...or at least put it on hold. My last blog before my "I Have Cancer" blog was about our first fully supported bicycle tour. Little did I know that when I pulled into the bike shop that was our destination that it would be the last time I would ever ride that bike.
We sold the bike last week.
Actually, the reason we sold the bike had nothing to do with me having cancer. We sold it because we realized during our self-supported tour that it wasn't a good bike for Jim with his heart issues. That particular bike takes a lot more strength in the captain than was healthy for Jim to be exerting, particularly in the combination of extreme heat and hilly terrain we encountered on our little shakedown tour. We decided we needed something different that would allow Jim more ability to rest and would allow me some way to help carry the load. While we were at the bike shop in Wisconsin, we tested out several tadpole trikes. We're kind of thinking that once I get through all of my treatment, tadpoles may be the way to go for us. But that's another story...and not really what I wanted to write about.
It does make me sad to have sold that bike. It feels a lot like the loss of a dream. What makes it less sad, however, is that I know the reason we sold it has nothing to do with my cancer. We would have sold it anyway.
When I first found out I had cancer, one of my first thoughts was how we wouldn't get to go on the bicycle trip....and how I may never get to go. It was crushing to even think about all that stuff at first. A dear bicycling friend suggested to me to plan another trip...maybe for next spring....maybe starting with the "southern tier" (a well-known bicycle route between San Diego and Florida). It was a good suggestion, it helped me to start thinking beyond cancer and chemo and all that.
While I like the idea, and now that I have a treatment plan, I can start thinking of such a trip....I know a lot can happen along the way. I feel like it's too early to think more than in some general ways about such a trip. Even if everything goes as planned, it will probably be a full year before I get my strength back. So for now, I just think about bikes and shorter trips that might make more sense.
Still....that's all just kind of background information for what I REALLY want to write about. What I really want to write about is how I'm coming to see this cancer diagnosis as something that has sent me on a different journey than the one that Jim and I had been so carefully planning.
At first, the journey seemed horribly frightening. It still seems quite scary at times, but I'm coming to see it as a journey that is filled with all sorts of wonderful twists and turns that is already taking me places that I would have never expected a month ago, or even a week ago.
Cancer has brought me to my knees in terms of looking at the stresses in my life, what makes me happy, what doesn't. It brought about an abrupt change in the way I eat. Today, I would no more eat a processed food ....particularly one with sugar and salt than I would put a gun to my head.
Cancer has brought Jim and I much closer together and it's taught me I can count on him though thick and thin. He has been a rock.
Cancer has forced me to get honest with Jim about some things that weren't working right for me in our marriage. It was hard and very scary for me to do, because I wasn't sure how he would react, but it has all worked out beautifully, in ways that have far exceeded my expectations.
Cancer has forced me to be more open and, thus more vunerable, in pretty much all my dealings with people. That can be quite scary....but I know in my heart, the more authentic I am, the better my chances are. No matter what, I will not have lived the rest of my life hiding behind a mask because I'm too afraid to let people in.
Cancer puts a whole new perspective on things. I really see this now as just a very different, very unexpected journey in my life. When events happen, we often view them as "good" or "bad" things. I have frequently thought about how we never really know what's good or what's bad about an event until many years later with lots of hindsight. Who knows? Ten years from now, I may look back at this as the best thing that ever happened to me. I just don't know. It's too soon to say. But I do know this......it's really just a different journey and that journey can be as good, or as bad, as I make it out to be.
Today, and in the days to come, I really want to spend a lot of time looking at the good in the journey. I know there is going to be a lot of good.....there already has been so much!
That's what I really wanted to write about!