Gradual Epiphany

1.44 Am

It’s 1.44 am. Woke up feeling weird; then my mind went running, afraid of what it might find.

I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma three weeks ago now.

I’m blessed in a lot of ways. The cancer is slow moving, non aggressive — or so it appears at this point. I might not even require treatment in the near future. Even if I do require treatment, survival rates have jumped from 60% to 90% in the past five years — the treatment for this cancer is progressing quickly. My company, Basho, has been wonderful to me in terms of helping me sort out a variety of insurance issues and arranging access to very good doctors.

All of these things are probably the reason I’ve not had any trouble sleeping until tonight.

It’s still scary though. Cancer — just the word inspires fear when you first hear it. You are struck, relatively quickly, with the fragility and preciousness of life. You suddenly have a deep desire to grow old. The prospect of death is a powerful incentive to live.

I cried more the first few days and weeks than I ever have in my 32 years. I cried because I was scared. I cried because I was worried about my wife, our 2 year old and the new baby on the way. I cried because it felt unfair, unwarranted! I cried because I realized that there were some areas of my life that I had wasted — and I wondered if I would have the chance to rectify them.

As I’ve gotten further into this process, emotions have settled out a bit. I realize now just how good I have it with this cancer. What I’m facing is absolutely nothing compared to other people I know with chronic medical conditions. It’s a smudge on the screen; a minor distraction. There might be some tough times ahead, but my overall probability for immediate mortality is relatively stable and low.

That said, I’m determined to make the most of this challenge. If I must go through this valley, I’m going to extract every bit of growth from it that I can. I choose to grow, to push my boundaries in every dimension: physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. I choose to spend more time with my family and less time with wandering the mental spaces of coding. I choose to listen more and speak less. I choose to be grateful that all of these realizations have been granted to me at 32 instead of 64.

It’s now 2.21 am. I think it was just the Chinese food from dinner that woke me up.