Tomorrow, round 5

Round 5 tomorrow

It’s hard to believe I’m heading into round 5. Still feels like a bad dream. I really want off this ride. I just got more blood drawn to check my white blood counts. I’ll be curious what the level looks like as they were low last time. Worst case is we need to postpone the treatment because it’s too low. But I don’t think that’ll happen as I’ve upped the number of G-csf injections from 5 to 7 (that should be enough according to the docs).

An emotional test

On the way over I stopped into the same coffee shop as where I got the news that I definitely have cancer. I was curious what I would feel now that I’m more than halfway through. Would I have PTSD or some negative emotions walking back in there? Answer: no. So what do I recall from spending a very tense 90 minutes here?

First, here’s what I did that day after being told I have cancer

Amidst the obvious sweaty palms, shallow breathing etc. I first I got out some paper and listed my most pressing questions for the oncologist. Then I called Michelle. She was obviously very shaken but stayed calm. I told her I would head home in a bit. I called several folks at work to let them know. The kindness and empathy I felt when telling them the news was powerful; it was like ok, we’re going to get through this together. Amazing. Next I wrote a list of people I wanted to let know immediately. Frankly it was less about letting them know and more about feeling I needed to talk to some people (limited to 5). I could tell I was starting to get worked up and needed perspective. I spent the next hour or so processing the news with cool-headed people I trust, admire, love. Note, cool-headed matters. I could not have conversations in which one side was spinning into a froth on getting the news (unless it was me). This was all hard enough without the additional anxiety of potentially stressing people out at the start of a workday.

You control your experience. Own it and make it good… even if you think it’s horrible.

This all raises an interesting point of reflection. Events themselves need not dictate our experiences. I didn’t control the news I got. But in retrospect I’m quite pleased with how I handled the news. It’s incredibly empowering to consider that holding ourselves to an inner scorecard of conduct is a good way to bypass the random insults of universe. The test is asking myself if I had to do it over again, would I play it the same way? Answer: yes I would. So the retrospective emotions I feel from that morning are not about the horrible news I received. Instead I feel deep satisfaction and gratitude for:

  • Having such amazing circles of colleagues, friends, family that I can lean on
  • Staying reasonably calm, making a plan, and following through on it
  • Having the good sense to get out of my head

That’s what I feel and what I remember. After those calls I felt like I had climbed – or got pulled – out of a very steep ditch. That got me into a better place to proceed.

As I stare down the barrel of round 5 this post is me taking a moment to celebrate a win (historically not a strength).