Now with only one chemo treatment left to go, I think about the choices we will need to make soon. If no cancer cells remain in my body from the surgery and pathology report, it’s called a ‘complete response’. If there are remaining cancer cells still, it is called ‘residual disease’. It seems like regardless the oncologists and radiologists may recommend radiation therapies although I am given a choice to forego the radiation if the result is a ‘complete response’.
The doctors’ main objective, in this case, is to ensure that no cancer is present and prevents any cancer cells from returning. That means radiation. Without it, even a complete response may see cancer returning afterward.
My main objective, aside from beating cancer, is to minimize invasive measures, thereby reducing side effects and any long-term damage to my body while living cancer-free. So the options are complex and difficult to quantify.
So I think about choices.
There are a lot of events in our lives that we can consider ‘choosing’ moments. For some people, it may not occur to them as their choice. For them, I know choices can be paralyzing. That’s not me. I’ve always embraced choices and choices for me mean freedom.
We can choose to retire at age 45. A lot of people don’t consider that a possibility. Society dictates a defined retirement age, so this ‘choice’ only becomes available then but not before.
We can choose not to subscribe to the crazy rat race, and instead choose a life that is harmonious and life-affirming (not just for our fellow human beings but for all living things).
We can choose not to be offended even though someone said something offensive. We can choose to see these comments in the context of their own life histories rather than mine.
We can choose to buy a BMW and gain status or we can choose to unsubscribe to the ‘purchased’ status.
We can choose to deprioritize a very long-standing friendship that is no longer serving us because we are now walking separate paths, experiencing different things, and have evolved to be incompatible.
Choosing requires energy. Considering the benefits and disadvantages requires mental exercise. Choosing requires empowerment. Without perceiving power, choices are not real. Choosing requires responsibility. We need to take the consequences of our choices. Often, not choosing is a heck of a lot easier. We blame others instead.
Along this cancer journey, we have made some important choices:
We decided to go on the chemo treatment program with all the possible consequences. The odds of surviving cancer are significantly higher. We chose ‘my life’ over death.
That said, I considered the possibility of foregoing chemo. If I were to live the same life that I have had and just prolonging it, it seems like it is a bit redundant. But I reference back to my life purpose: “Do good by guiding people to their intentional and fulfilling lives and improving the lives of many through philanthropy”. Well, then I can be a positive force in this world. So I chose to increase the odds of life.
Here is the thing. I don’t want to just live long. I want to live healthily – until I drop dead. I’m afraid of living with the possible different long-term health problems from chemo/radiation treatments. With sore muscles and numbness in different parts of my body now omnipresent ever since chemo #4, I mull over the long-term consequences of radiation on top of chemo treatments and surgery. We’ll need a bit more information before our next choice.
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” John C Maxwell