Jane Biehl, Ph.D.
Almost every single cancer survivor I have met says that the one gift from a terrible disease like cancer is we learn to appreciate every single day. It is sad we need something like this to remind us, but that is typical of human nature. How I wish I had some of that time back that I spent worrying!
Paulo Coelho says it all: “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. DO IT NOW
I love to travel and after my diagnosis, have tried to take a cruise every year. Yes, I dip into savings and my financial advisor gets upset, but my cancer is incurable and I tell him I need to do it while I am able.
I cherish holidays with my family and precious times with my friends. I bask in the love of my church family. I am always trying to explore new places and do new things.
There is a downside to this. I have written three books and am working on the fourth one. I was born hard of hearing and am now profoundly deaf. Life for people with disabilities is so different now from the 50’s and 60’s, when I grew up without the American with Disabilities Act, the wonderful technology and the research knowledge we have today. When I taught college classes. my students told me repeatedly this story needs to be told.
I finally sat down and wrote it out. Now I am typing and revising and revising and revising! But it provides a huge dilemma for me. The time I spend on the book is time away from doing “fun” things – or even cleaning out my closets! And I want this book to be my legacy since I don’t have children. Every cancer survivor also understands the fatigue. I get so tired I want to throw the book out the window – or wait a while to finish it.
But the sense of urgency remains. Like one good friend who is deaf said to me, “You are the only one who can write this story.” No pressure, right?
All of life is a balancing act and we all experience the juggling of work, school, kids, family, spouse, friends, getting things done like paying bills, and it goes on and on.
I have discovered that writing a book is a constant balancing act too. I literally lay in bed at night wondering what to include and what to delete. And we all rewrite over and over again!
In truth, none of us are assured of the next day. One fatal illness, accident, or act of violence can change everything. But before cancer I had a false security of feeling I had time.
I have decided that I am driving to finish the book while in remission. I pray that I can do it. I still go out with friends and family and try to squeeze a little time each day for my manuscript. The closets can wait. And when I am finished I will have one whale of a celebration party!
So, my friends – don’t wait. Fulfill your dreams now, because we have learned the hard way time is not infinite for us. I know cancer is a tough teacher. However, thinking back over some of the teachers I had in school; the tough ones are the I remember the best and from whom I learned the most!