Thursday, January 6, 2011

"What now?"

As I wrote about in my last post, I have been experiencing some health issues of late, culminating in a surgical procedure before Christmas. I had to wait an agonizing three weeks to get the pathology results back. The fact that they did not simply call and say “everything is fine,” made me quite anxious about the findings.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor to review the results. They were not positive.

It turns out that I have Stage Zero Cervical Cancer. Now we play a waiting game, but most likely it will mean a hysterectomy, most likely some time this summer.

The good news (ha!) is that it has not yet spread, and they appear to have gotten the infected cells with the procedure. Now we wait, and in three months, I get retested to see if the cells have returned. If they have, the next step is the hysterectomy. Statistically, the odds are very high that the cells will return.

I admit, my first response was “Why me?”

I came home, told my husband the news, and proceeded to wallow in self-pity for the rest of the night. I enjoyed a huge crying spree, and I spent the evening in bed with our pets. I thought about the finality of this diagnosis in terms of my ability to have a child. I worried that I would be left all alone. I let myself be despondent.

This morning, though, I woke and tried to look at it from another perspective.

I have always believed that things happen for a reason in our lives. There is a greater purpose at work, challenging us and driving us to do particular things during our time here. And, I recognized, that greater purpose is not always immediate clear to us. Sometimes, it is never clear. But it is always there.

So, I started to think about this recent set of events, and asked not “Why me?” but “What now?”

As cancers go, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. We have caught it early. It is treatable and I can expect a very high survival rate after the surgery. This is good news.

This diagnosis does come at a rather difficult time in my life, as I am transitioning out of my old career and trying to find a new path to follow. I reflected this morning that perhaps this set of events has come to give me greater insight regarding my new opportunities.

I have always had issues with control over my life, never liking uncertainty, and I have needed to know exactly what was going to happen next. This past year, both the loss of my job and this new diagnosis, are challenging that need. I could fret and stew and worry over what exactly tomorrow, or next week, or next month will bring, or I can live for each day and be grateful for the boundless joys that surround me.

Things have always had a way of working out. Sometimes, they didn’t work out the way I anticipated, but they always took me forward, made me stronger, made me a better person.

My current position is what brought me to Erie, an event that led me to my husband Dave. For that I am eternally grateful.

Now it is time for me to move on, with Dave by my side of course, and find my next purpose in life. The current diagnosis and my prognosis suggest to me that perhaps I need to be looking in new directions for the future. As I head into the next several months, my new mantra will be “what now?”

“What new opportunities can I see around me?”
“What will this new day bring me?”
“What can I do now to overcome the challenges that lie before me?”
“Why me” has been relegated to 2010. “What now” is the motto for 2011.

Will you join me?