In the past week's time I've heard about two deaths from cancer among the family/friends of my friends. It feels like cancer is popping up everywhere, at an increasing rate with every month that goes by. I wonder how much of this is just confirmation bias, where I am simply seeing the world through the filter of cancer and therefore all connections to cancer seem to scream out at me as if in all caps and bold. Is there truly more cancer in the world now? Have we manipulated our world, our food, our environment, ourselves, into the perfect real estate for this biological mutation to take residence? Are we simply going to the doctor more, getting tested more, recognizing the disease before it (or something related) kills us? This isn't a new plague. It's been around for ages just like many other health issues that we never paid much attention to before. Is this a crisis of cancer or a crisis of diagnosis?
We are also curing more than ever before. So many people are living well, and long, in the wake of their treatment. I don't know the big numbers of cancer diagnoses versus cancer cures on a year-to-year or decade-to-decade basis. Probably not statistics that would make for a very fun day of exploring for me. But the logical side of my brain is curious to know if the big numbers are just getting bigger on a parallel, or if there is actual divergence. And if there is divergence, to which side of the coin does it weigh? But to most of my brain it doesn't really matter what the answer is. The fact is that I seem to see/find cancer everywhere; that it is becoming inescapable and encompassing in my world. And we can only approach the world through our personal perspective.
My newest metaphor (oh how I love a metaphor) for cancer survival is like having Nelson from The Simpsons sitting on a bench in my Id. You're going along just fine, strolling through the days of your life, when sporadically and out of nowhere you hear "Ha Ha!" and turn around to see the evil finger of cancer pointing at your very soul. Always disconcerting, impossible to ignore, certainly annoying, and difficult to just shake off. But shake it off I do. That is my modus operandi after all: optimism, enthusiasm, stubborn refusal to give in. "Smile and the world smiles with you." On a road trip several days ago I heard the Tom Petty song "I Won't Back Down" on the radio. I own several Petty albums, so it's not like the song was new to me. But something about hearing it on that day made me wish to take it up as a personal anthem. That is one of the great things about music. It really speaks to you sometimes, stands out in sharp relief and insists upon recognition. (Those of you musically inclined have likely noticed my preponderance toward using song names and lines as blog titles.)
So where is my mind this week? Certainly a bit better than last. I'm not past any fears, but they run on a mutable muzak track for now. I've started the research process for a November trip abroad. Looks like we're going to Japan, unless the cost begins to look too steep. I don't want to dig too deeply into the pocket of my retirement for the first trip. My plan is to spread that money out over a couple of years and multiple excursions. But it is pretty darn exciting to start the planning. And as beautiful as Michigan can be in the fall, I'm thinking that fall in Japan will knock its socks off.
Tomorrow is beach day! Summer has returned with some lovely warm days again and I'm taking full advantage of the sun with a trip to the sand. Wander the dunes, check out a beachside town, eat something indulgent, road trip with the windows down. Yes. Then it's a long weekend with one of my best girls in which we will rock out, dress up, see the sights, and hang with lots of friends. The world may be full of cancer, but my world is also full of fantastic and wonderful things.