Instinctively, I am not the most open-to-new-ideas/new-things kind of person. However, an unexpected diagnosis of stage IV, non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at age 54 and a half – along with its equally unexpected “13-month to two-year prognosis,” changes a few things. And thanks to a great friend, Rebecca Nenner, whom I have written about previously, I have/have had to become more open, and consequently, have assimilated into my life many non-Western, non-traditional alternatives (pills, supplements, super foods, activities/behaviors, etc.) with which I was totally unfamiliar (I’m a sports and chocolate kind of person), in an attempt to outlive my prognosis. And nearly six years later, I am here to say: been there, still doing that; by following many of Rebecca’s suggestions. Moreover, as a passionate health and fitness advocate, and now “Certified Holistic Health Coach,” Rebecca has guided me through the maze which characterizes life living with cancer. Presumably, given the fact that I’m still in the game, it’s likely her recommendations have contributed to my overall good health and unexpected life expectancy.
Nevertheless, stories abound electronically and in literature, of cancer patients who have eradicated their tumors in unconventional ways; ways that I’m not at present pursuing. Rebecca, for one, has regularly provided me with an evolving array of information/success stories for my consideration. In spite of it all, I don’t, generally speaking, feel compelled to add as many new things as I once did; finally, the point of this column: I want to feel good about what I’m already doing, rather than feel bad about what I’m not doing. Heck, I should be one of those success stories with patients wanting to know what I’ve accomplished.
Even though being alive 68 months post-diagnosis is a “miracle,” according to my oncologist, I really shouldn’t/can’t rest on my still-alive laurels and close back up again. I’d like to think I’ve learned something from my survival. Yet I don’t want to feel as if I have to add something new because something old might not be working anymore. Part of my hesitation is, “if it ain’t broke,” why should I fix it? Maybe my thinking should be: just because it was broke, don’t mean it can’t be fixed. If I don’t add/dare I say, upgrade – or worse, subtract and start following my not-very-open instincts – I may be closing the only opening I have left. Or, and here’s where the problem/decision on how best to proceed gets muddled (at least in my head), might I be affecting my status as quo, which given the February, 2009 prognosis, is pretty amazing? My worry is: if I added some new things, would I be threatening my present or securing my future? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know. Whatever I do/don’t do however, my goal is to feel good about what I’m doing/not doing, not bad about it. And as I’m sure you all can imagine, as a characterized-as-terminal cancer patient, there’s already plenty to feel bad about. The trick is…heck, there is no trick. It’s just mind over matter, and try not make matters worse while somehow not being afraid to make matters better.