“More than a decade after writing At the Will of the Body, I still think of illness as a balance of danger and opportunity. The danger is that one can become lost in self-absorption from attending too long and too carefully to all that may be wrong in an ill body. The opportunity is in the moments of honest mutual recognition that people can experience only when they are willing to acknowledge their own vulnerability. Danger and opportunity are an inseparable braid, one folding endlessly into the other.” (Frank, 1991, 2002, p.143)
I do wonder if I am too self-absorbed in my experience. It is the focus of my research, so that adds to another level of self-absorption. I find that my focus on what might be wrong with my body is always emphasized shortly before oncology appointments – or when the weather prevents me from getting enough exercise.
I had an oncologist appointment today. I was sad because it was at the same location as where I last saw Lori alive. It was at the same clinic that I took Lori to for many different appointments – doctors, chemotherapy, radiation … it meant that as I had multiple appointments at multiple places in the clinic, each one brought with it a memory.
Today, my oncologist today confirmed that I’m still doing ok. As far as we know my cancer is still in remission. Come back in 5-months … yay.
I do regularly reflect on life in a way that I didn’t before I was diagnosed. I think about my mortality and regularly question whether or not I’m doing what I want to be doing with my life. I am looking forward to some upcoming vacations – we are so in need as with everything with mom this year, we haven’t had much of a vacation.
I am really happy with my teaching at the moment. Even though last semester was a rough semester. It seemed like all my students were going through life crisis while trying to study. I like the way that UMB treats me (although, we’ll see how that goes when I get my student feedback back after this last difficult semester!). I like the classes that I teach and I enjoy staying up to date with the latest trends in instructional design and learning technology. I do find myself wondering if I’d like to do instructional design as a consultant again? Or if the regular updates to my courses will keep my instructional design itch scratched.
I have decided to go back to my dissertation. I’m making progress on it now. I’m no longer stuck on the chapter that I was stuck on. I’m moving forward. I’m trying to get a draft out soon, but there are always competitions for my time.
Today marks 4 years in remission. Four years ago today I was rolled into surgery at the crack of dawn for a 10-hour surgery that removed the last of the known cancer in my body and also reshaped my torso, moving my stomach up to replace the missing breast tissue. I didn’t feel the overwhelming sadness that I have felt at other remission anniversaries. I cannot imagine a time when December 17 will ever be just a regular day, but for now, I will be happy with adding another candle to my cake (figuratively, not literally) … four years and counting …
Feature image: Berliner Schildkröte [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.