If I'm still here on Tuesday the 17th (and I sincerely hope I am), it will officially be five years since I had my cancer surgery. I am told that's significant, because if it hasn't returned by then, it probably isn't going to. That will be a tremendous relief. As many of you know, when you have had cancer, you always worry about if (or when) it might recur. By nature, I'm generally not a worrier, but I have to admit I've spent a lot of time worrying during the past five years, even though I'm well aware that worrying isn't very helpful.
But in addition to worrying, I decided the best way to cope was to keep busy. So, in early 2015, I began blogging. I also took a few online courses (yes, I already have my degree, but I've always enjoyed learning something new). I wrote some media history articles for academic journals. I spoke at several conventions and conferences (including going to Cooperstown to give a talk at a baseball history symposium held at the Hall of Fame). And no matter how I felt--and some days, I didn't feel so great, believe me-- I kept showing up for work, and I kept trying my best to be an interesting professor. Mainly, I tried to follow the advice I often give to my students: it's okay to worry, but don't let it stop you. So, some days, I worried. But I didn't let it stop me.
As I've mentioned in other blog posts, evidence suggests I shouldn't be here. Nearly every one of my female relatives on my mother's side died of cancer (including my maternal grandmother, who had the same kind of cancer I did-- but she only lived to be 44, while I'm 72, by the grace of God). I try to keep things in perspective, and keep an attitude of gratitude. I had wonderful doctors. I got great medical treatment. Having good health insurance was a plus too. In other words, as scary as things were sometimes, it really could have been a lot worse.
In the past five years, I've lost a few friends to cancer. However, there were others who made often-remarkable recoveries. I'm not very good at predicting the future, so in my own case, I've just tried to take things a day at a time, while hoping that everything would turn out well. I've thanked many of you before, but I want to do it again: there are many people who reached out to me during this journey, to encourage me and to let me know I was in their prayers. To those of you fighting your own battle with cancer (or with some other illness), I hope you too have a positive outcome. And if I've learned anything from my own situation, it's that so much of what we all get upset or angry or frustrated about on a day to day basis isn't worth the time we spend on it. In the greater scheme of things, what matters most is being alive. I'm grateful I'm still here to write those words.