Friday, September 9, 2016

Back to Plans

There's just something about back to school season. It's always been my favorite time of year. Shopping for new pens and binders, getting all of my new syllabi/schedules and, probably my most favorite, making PLANS for the new school year. This year I'm allowing myself to get swept up in all of that once again. 

Yes, I've been indulging in the rich, juicy brain quenching habit of PLANNING and it feels great. Little James has started “school” a couple of days per week now giving me regular, structured time at home and living life on my own schedule again for once, even if just for a few hours. With this time, I have allowed myself to indulge in some ‘school year’ scheduling – to do lists, events for the fall, I've even allowed myself to do some academic and career planning! For someone who just a few months ago thought, with good reason, that I might not even be here on this day to exist, let alone make plans, this has been such a great joy to me that I have literally cried happy tears on multiple occasions this past week.

However, I have also developed over the past several months a deep respect and deference the fact that plans are simply that – an intention, or a scheme that we create. Never before had I been forced to stare at all of the plans I had built up for my future and realize that there isn’t a single one that is guaranteed. For any of us. Truly, plans are a luxury, and an indulgence that should be appreciated and valued and certainly not be taken for granted.

With cancer, it does not mean that you can’t make plans, it just means that they will most likely change, and sometimes very dramatically. For some, the only plans you might have are ‘what are the next steps,’ ‘when is the next treatment or scan,’ and ‘what shall I do tomorrow.’
But it’s not just cancer. The reality is that none of us know what today will bring. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, or at least the tomorrow we imagine.

And, perhaps more importantly, it's what you do when things don't go according to your plans that really matters. There is a struggle that happens when you try to fit your plans with what actually comes to pass. That struggle is all our own creation. We've created this plan, that we are blessed enough to believe might actually happen, and when it doesn’t we’ve created a tension – a fight within in ourselves when we try to match what we envision and what we actually see happen. This opens us up to a whole host of negative emotions and stress. All based on a privileged, blessed little plan that we truthfully have no business even making.   

But ah… the bliss of thinking about what could be and what we want to be. We certainly should not stop making plans. Go ahead and make them! Just put them in the right context. They are a privilege! And might not come to pass! Just give up the struggle.

Even through all of this I still believe that things often go a lot better than even our best-laid plans would do on their own. You just have to give reality a chance. 

Happy back to school, everyone.

Quick health update: My liver labs still haven’t returned to normal so the taper of the steroids is still on halt (until those return to baseline). Hopefully things have improved by today and I will get the go ahead to taper more before the weekend. For right now, the plan (there's that word) is taper through September, scans early October, restart treatment mid October. I’m impatient but I am hopeful that the treatments that I DID have are helpful enough to get me through this time, if not continue to work while things are halted.  

EDIT: just heard that my liver labs actually went back to normal! So I get to drop my prednisone down again tomorrow and hope that things stay good!

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