Glory Days - They’ll Pass You By

(Thanks to Bruce Springsteen for this post title.)

My wife subscribes to daily dad jokes. She knows I’m a fan of dad jokes. Today she called me with the daily joke (I was only in another room of our house, but sometimes it’s easier to call as opposed to yell or get up from whatever we’re doing (yes, we’re getting to be an old couple)).

The joke was: Did you hear about the guy who is writing his memoirs about his regrets? It’s called an Oughta Biography. It took me a second to get it, but this made me laugh out loud. Hilarious and appropriate.

Rehashing events - and the cancer - in my life

Living with an incurable cancer for nearly 11 years and being over 60 years old, means I spend time rehashing past events in my life. I try not to, but it’s unavoidable. Regrets, successes, and mundane events.

What’s interesting is that lately a lot of old memories have been popping into my mind. Things that I didn’t even know I forgot. Things that I swore for years I had no memory of. Sometimes, a song will kick start a memory. Sometimes, driving to a new medical office will send me down memory lane.

It’s an interesting process. I call it a process because when an old memory pops up, I have to process it and try to figure out what it means.

Opportunities to process my memories

The other day I drove to my regular 3-month visit with my kidney doctor. It had been 7 months actually. And (spoiler alert) my kidneys remarkably are humming along, after being on the verge of complete failure when I was diagnosed. It’s only a 30-mile drive to the kidney doctor. In Los Angeles traffic, the drive took over two hours. Yikes! But it wasn’t bad. I used the time to think, meditate and reassure myself that I’m doing ok. 

I might have mentioned in a recent post, that I’m walking a lot. On weekends, I’m doing 10 miles on both Saturday and Sunday. The time walking is a great time for thinking. I solve all issues in my life and everyone else’s lives. While I often soon forget what I decided or figured out, it’s nice to have that break, where I’m just thinking about my steps, listening to music, and feeling great about everything. I highly recommend it.

Memories of dreams

When I was first diagnosed, I had a recurring dream where I was traveling on a dark road on a rainy night. My stepfather, who passed away in 2004, was riding with me and he kept giving me directions that prevented me from getting to my destination. It was frustrating for me and gleeful for him. I had that dream many times. That first year I honestly wasn’t sure I would survive for very long, and I took my stepdad’s misdirection in my dreams as a sign that it wasn’t my time to go yet.

Looking back on my cancer journey

Cancer changes everything. It can totally upend one’s life. For the first six years after my diagnosis, I busted my rump to maintain as much normality as possible. It was exhausting.

Now that I’ve been retired a few years, I have no idea how I maintained that normalcy. I can say, though, that when I think about how much my life has changed, it can be maddening and depressing.

When first diagnosed, a cancer coach at the local hospital told me that someday I’d look back on my diagnosis as a gift. I guffawed when she said that.

Positive as well as negative memories

10 years later, I can say that shockingly there have been some positives. I’ve made great friends and appreciate life’s little things; to name a couple of benefits. But I’ll also say that ten plus years of cancer and non-stop treatment is a drain, physically and emotionally.

I’m searching for a therapist. I need to be ok with how cancer has changed my life, and I need to process my new memories of past glory days and not so glorious days.

And in conclusion, I suppose that the point of this post, is to remind all of us to not ignore our mental state. Cancer can certainly impact it.

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