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Making Plans In Spite of Cancer

Posted 1/11/2016

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  A cancer diagnosis shakes our trust in the future. Many people, even people who have an early stage cancer, are afraid to plan ahead. We may worry about tempting the fates or it may be a more practical concern about fatigue levels or blood counts and exposure to crowds.

  Three different people have made a similar remark to me today. When each heard of an important event, a wedding and a graduation and a new pregnancy, in the months ahead, the immediate reaction was: Will I be here? Sometimes, sadly, this is a realistic and necessary worry, but very often, it really isn't--except that it feels so in our heads and hearts. 

  No one ever drops dead from cancer, so there is time to make plans, to complete tasks, to say good-byes. There most certainly is time to buy a new winter coat or think about next summer's vacation. It is clear to me that the goal is always to live as though there is time and health. If circumstances prove us wrong, we can change plans then. In the meantime, it is really important to put things on the calendar and budget for a trip and act as though we are well.

  This is a preface to a short column that I wrote and that has just been published in Cancer Today. Here is the start and then a link. You may be interested in reading the whole online edition; there are always a number of interesting features.

 Dare to Plan
Live for today, but plan for tomorrow and beyond.

It can be frightening to think about the future. People diagnosed
with cancer may wonder whether they even have a future—and if
so, how long it might last. Many with cancer say they are unwilling
to buy a new coat or think about a summer vacation. Some have
superstitions about inviting bad karma. More rationally, they are
concerned about spending money they might need elsewhere. These
anxieties strike people with a likely curable cancer as well as those
living with advanced disease.

1) Unless and until you have been told
time is limited, try to live as though
all is well. If trouble is looming, you
will have to deal with it when the time
comes. There is no benefit either today
or for the future in allowing those fears
to contaminate the present moment.
2) Break the future into smaller chunks.
If you have scans every three months,
plan your time in 90-day blocks.

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