It has been 50+ months since my wife's diagnosis with cancer and a lot of things have changed during that time. Yes, there's been a lot of undesired changes that cancer-goers, caregivers, friends and family must traverse on the cancer journey -- but there are also good things that happen as well.
This blog post is about the GOOD things...
Prior to cancer - I would have said that I had a good life. My work life balance seemed...in balance. I had good friends. Work was good. Life was good. Honestly, many people looking in would have seen 'very little wrong' with my life.
The reality, is that -- we are who we are, and we become who we become, based in large part, due to the people around us, the experiences we survive, the adversity we overcome, the emotions we feel and our surrounding environment.
The people in my life...have changed.
My core job responsibilities at work...have changed.
Our family's 'quality time' and vacation schedule...has changed.
Our priorities in life...have changed.
And, with very few exceptions - these changes have been GOOD changes.
Before cancer, I was a proud "Type A" leader -- driving for change and steamrolling my opinions throughout the organization.
After cancer, I have become significantly more empathetic, empowering, and hands-off -- delegating authority, decision-making and day-to-day management to others in the organization. And, guess what? They have embraced it -- taking our company farther and faster than I would have -- with more engagement, loyalty, team-work and devotion than I could have expected.
Before cancer, there were a handful of people that I considered friends and we hung out sometimes.
After cancer, I discovered who my really-good friends were -- and we spent more time together, cherished our time together, laughed and cried together and sat in the waiting room together. Cancer has helped me embrace my true friends -- and meet new, good friends.
Before cancer, we were overly active - hustling and bustling, doing 'important' things and forgetting to smell the roses along the way.
After cancer, we cherish our time together. Deliberately schedule family vacations, purposefully create "good memories" along the way, open up and share our feelings more openly and worry less about the 'small stuff'.
Before cancer, I had a typical relationship with my daughter where we interacted as parent/child.
After cancer, we become a team - working together, laughing/crying together and being friends while we embraced the challenges, and rewards, of life-with-cancer together.
Before cancer, we had a long list of things we wanted to do and buy -- but lacked an overriding purpose.
After cancer, we have learned to focus on "creating good memories". This has materially impacted our time together, our travels, our home life, decorating, landscaping and 'movie nights' - which happen regularly!
Yes, there are things that are worse in a post-cancer-diagnosis life and if we could make the cancer go away, we'd warmly accept a clean bill of health.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn't express some gratitude for the clarity I've received during the cancer journey and encourage you to share some of your "silver lining" moments with me, in the comment section below.