Getting back to normal

I’ve now passed the three-year anniversary of my surgery, which means I’m likely to live long enough to die of something else.

Why is three years a key milestone? Around 80% of people in my situation die within three years. If it shows up again within six months, doctors advise against even trying to stop it; it’s time to get your affairs in order and, perhaps, get it over with on your own terms while you still can. (Or not; there’s always a chance.)

dave with another Valiant

Over the last few months, I’ve had to change my mind-set again, from “I’ve got a definite time limit” to “I might just make it out of this alive.” Well, long enough to die from my high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, or some moron who’s too busy texting to notice the stop sign. Or even old age!

It’s a little strange, after living three years knowing that I’d probably be gone by this time, to have the reason I won’t collect Medicare go from “because I’ll be dead already” to “because Congress doesn’t like it.”

I do sometimes have to remind myself that the worst danger is over and I’ll probably make it through.

There are lots of people out there with cancer — I think around three quarters of the people in my car club have had it. You’d be amazed at the number of radiation and chemotherapy veterans out there. I am sure my issues aren’t unique; but I haven’t really heard anyone talking about the difficulty of moving back to an “I might live through this” perspective, after resigning themselves to dying in a three-to-ten-year period. It’s almost as hard to face the change of going on living, as it was to face a premature death.  I find myself not quite believing it, even not quite willing to believe it in case my belief changes reality (which rationally I know is unlikely to happen).

How about you? Have you gone from facing death to, well, facing life? What is it like — or what was it like for you?