There was this whole story I was concocting in my head about how to lead you to the updated news. Perhaps if I had cried less in the last month I could muster the enthusiasm and passion I normally feel, but since I’ve had to put my big girl panties on then I’m going to ask you to put yours on, too, so I can get right to it.
The Good News
Hook and I signed off on a gift to St. Edward’s University for the Dr. Allan W. Hook Endowed Wild Basin Creative Research Fund. After much discussion on how to provide a legacy for Allan’s lifelong work with science and education, and to highlight the gem known as the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, we created this endowment with an initial gift of $125,000 dollars.
We felt wowed by the idea, the planning of it, and now the future of the endowment. In a separate blog post, I’ll share more details. For now, feel wowed with us.
The Bad News
For all the good wishes we have desperately hung onto, our positive thinking wasn’t enough to blink back the cancer from wherever it came from. Was it the surgery? Was it the lack of good guidance? Or, was this how it was always going to end up?
Throughout this past year, Hook and I have believed he would recover and that he’d beat every statistic on the pancreatic cancer books. We believed we were getting on a plane in August for Australia, and we believed we’d have a year like no other. Well, we did have a year like no other, and for all the trials of the last 12 months, I know when to be thankful for life’s simpler plans.
Hook said, “Tell them Australia is still a possibility just not in 2013.” For me, I can’t imagine anything more unimportant, more insignificant than whether we go anywhere. My home is where Allan is; he is my adventure. My father, Lou, always said, “Make do with what you have,” and so we will.
Whatever reconciliation the oncologist and I had from the last post is gone, gone, gone. As of mid-May, Allan went back on chemo but with a different treatment. The oncologist’s analysis:
- Without chemo treatments: ~ two months.
- With chemo treatments: up to 14 months.
“You’re now in stage 4” was his opener.
If you had asked me two weeks ago about our status, I would have blurted out the answer amidst a shower of tears and nose blowing. Today I have a little more self-control. Yesterday, I wrote to a friend that I can pray every day and I do, and I can keep believing in miracles and I will, but I see what no one else does including the doctors and I don’t have the luxury of denial.
But even knowing what we know doesn’t mean we give up. We’ve decided that knowing what we know is its own gift. There may or may not be a clock. This estimate of months is guesswork at best. All I have to do is re-read the story about John Betak who was given the “six months, get your affairs in order” pancreatic cancer talk but who is still alive today after eight years.
Then there’s the video of David, the pancreatic cancer survivor, who was told by his doctor to cash out his 401k and live it up because he only had six months. That was more than five years ago. David says he’s poor now but alive.
What’s that cliche: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I never liked that saying. Instead, I’m going to pray for a miracle, set aside time for Hook and me to write, and make plans we should have had in place anyway.
More Good News
On June 1st, Allan will officially begin his long-awaited, well-earned, 12-month sabbatical. A “sabbatical” to some might conjure up images of goofing off or beaching it. For a scientist like Hook and with his obligation to the university, he’ll use this year to conduct uninterrupted, focused research. Allan easily has enough research projects to last longer than a year, but he has some specific works (what he considers his “life’s work”) he is determined to finish.
That Allan will have this year to do what he loves the most is an enormous gift from the universe.
Turning a Complaint Into a Compliment
As part of my Hook The Talent career management business, I host two different events every month. One is an Ask The Coach forum where I invite in a local coach, usually a career coach, to do a Q&A over coffee with an intimate group of seven career changers.
Not intending to be in need of a Wellness Coach, I nonetheless scheduled one onto the events calendar thinking others might be in need. Turns out, I was the one who benefited the most from Wellness Coach, Lauryn Sires, who comes from a science background but now specializes in coaching cancer fighters and survivors. Her advice to the forum when dealing with a health issue for yourself or someone you love:
“When you feel yourself getting ready to complain, try complimenting someone or something instead.” Lauryn said three things would happen:
- You’ll catch how often you complain.
- You’ll see the good/positive in a person/situation.
- You’ll start to express more gratitude for what you do have versus what you don’t.
I think the key is that the compliment has to be genuine. If you don’t really believe it, you’ll remain frustrated plus you’ll be insincere. (My thought, not Lauryn’s.)
I struggled with this one relative to Hook’s oncologist. I really did. But I dug deep and came up with an authentic, deeply-felt compliment:
Let us all thank the universe for those individuals who consciously choose to become oncologists and cancer nurses and grief counselors. These jobs see more death and dying than the average person could ever bear. Some of these individuals are angels walking this earth, guiding us, loving us, caring for us in a way no other could or would want to.
Hook and I have tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and for now we will make do with what we have. We will be thankful for the gift of time however much of it we receive.
God bless you all for sticking with our story.