I enjoyed this presentation very much... and it's interesting to think about the processes he describes toward the end that relate to "rewiring our brains" to focus on the positive and to move us toward more happiness:
Today marks a major milestone in my wife's treatment of her breast cancer. It will be the 18th - and final - time that a Monday morning starts with a treatment visit to "The Kingsbury Pavilion of the Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center"... a.k.a. the cancer treatment wing of our local hospital, the Cheshire Medical Center.
It's her finalHerceptin infusion. And it marks the end of our living life in three-week increments.
For the past 12 months, our pattern has basically been this:
Monday - she goes in for the infusion. After a couple of hours we pick her up with her being tired and dizzy/woozy from the effects of the other medicine they give with it. In the evening she's pretty much just wiped out.
Tuesday - Fatigue, nausea, feeling horrible.
Wednesday - By the afternoon she's often back to being able to do things like drive a car... but still not feeling great.
The rest of the week - progressively feeling a bit better but still feeling rather sick/tired/fatigued.
Week 2: Gradually feeling a bit better
Week 3: Gradually feeling a bit better... almost back to where she was at the start of Week 1
And then... WHAM!... time to start it all over again.
This was how 2012 was... planning around "Herceptin weeks," knowing that they would effectively be written off in terms of my wife being able to do much at all.
And over the year it got worse, not better. We'd perhaps naively thought that after a few Herceptin treatments it might get more routine. But in fact there seemed to be cumulative effects... more fatigue... more pain...
Now, granted, not all of her condition can be attributed purely to the Herceptin. With each infusion they also give her "pre-meds" that are there to "help" her body tolerate the Herceptin. These include something like Benedryl and also a steroid.
Plus, around the same time that she started Herceptin she also started the joyous daily pill of Tamoxifen, which brings on chemically-induced menopause with all the hot flashes, joint pain, mood effects and a zillion other symptoms.
The combined effect of all the drugs, plus, I suspect, the lingering effects of chemo, hasn't made for a pleasant time.
As with many aspects of cancer treatment, too, it's not entirely clear that the treatment was necessary for so long. "The studies show" that 52 weeks of treatment with Herceptin lead to a decrease in recurrence of breast cancer of the type my wife has. But does it need to be for 52 weeks? Could it be equally effective in 26 weeks? Or 9 weeks?
The studies haven't yet been conclusive on that... and so we have to go with what is known. But my hope, certainly, for future women who need the treatment is that the researchers out there can zero in a bit more on what is really the optimal treatment time - and hopefully it can be less than a full year.
Today marks a milestone, though. We can stop thinking in 3-week intervals. She still has four more years of daily Tamoxifen pills, but at least these infusions will end. We're hoping that we can return to some degree of normal routines.
We're still "going on faith" that all this will help... hopefully it will.
UPDATE: A conversation with my wife on her way to treatment this morning reminded me that in fact the "3-week intervals" began even earlier, back in September 2011 when her chemo began. The chemo infusions, too, were every three weeks... so we are are SO ready for this all to end. :-)
As has become my tradition since 2010, I like to start the year off by posting my "three words" for the year. These are not "goals" or "resolutions" but rather words that I hope will define how 2013 will go for me. They are more guides for how I aspire for my life to be.
While last year I was trying to focus more on fewer things, this year I want to execute on some of the plans I have had for some time. There are some things I have been thinking about, talking about and even writing about for several years... but have yet to actually start. Not so much in my professional/work life, as I have been all about executing plans there, but rather in my personal life with some of my various side projects. As an example, 2013 really needs to be the year I either reboot VOIPSA or just close it down. There are a number of other similar projects and activities that are stalled, including a couple of boards of organizations I am on where I have not been able to fully participate. There are some projects, too, around our house that I have been wanting to do for quite some time.
Now, in fairness, a lot of these projects have been stalled for most of the past two years because of the unwelcome intruder in our lives that has sucked up pretty much all of my time outside of work. My wife is and always will be a FAR higher priority than all these other activities (as will my daughters be). She and I are hoping, though, that with her last treatment in early January we can stop living our life in 3-week increments and get back to having a more regular life. We'll see how it all goes, but that is certainly our hope for this year.
Outside of projects, though, there is another aspect to "execution" that hits on a daily basis - it is far too easy to get distracted by social networks and online news sources. Instead of spending time creating content, I find myself reading about other people's content. I need to change the priority there and focus more on creating content first and THEN engaging with social networks. (As an example, it would have been extremely easy to get sucked into Facebook instead of writing this post.) I need to be executing on my content plans first.
In 2012 I came to a realization that... I really miss working with audio. As I have for the past seven years, I continue to contribute my weekly reports into the For Immediate Release podcast and I enjoy that immensely... but I have found a hunger to do even more again. There is something about working with the medium of audio that I just really enjoy. It is a wonderful way for telling stories, explaining topics, providing education and interacting with people.
I don't know yet the full form this will take this year. We've been toying with adding a podcast component to the Deploy360 Programme. I have been thinking about reviving the Blue Box Podcast, at least for some interviews. I am intrigued by SoundCloud and may expand my experiments there. I have half a dozen other ideas running around inside my head for new podcasts and other projects... all I know is that I would like 2013 to be the year I expand my usage of audio.
In a 2012 leadership workshop for one of the boards I am on, we were asked some questions that could perhaps best be summarized as "how are you using your life to transform the world?" To make it a better place? To bring people together? To strengthen connections and build stronger communities?
That question stayed with me because in all honesty the last two years have really had to be all about surviving. In the process of just getting through each day, I haven't had the luxury of spending much time to contemplate the bigger picture. But as we move through all that, the question returns to my mind.
Obviously, as a parent a large part of this work involves the raising of our two daughters and giving them the foundation, strength, knowledge and skills to affect change in the world. That is perhaps the ultimate transformation that all of us can do as parents.
But is there something more direct... that can even involve them in some way?
Not necessarily something grand and glorious, but perhaps something simple and local... I have ideas... It all kind of comes back to that first word earlier in this post! :-)
What are your aspirations for 2013? What are your goals? Or guides?
Whatever they may be, may 2013 be a great year for you all - Happy New Year!