Somewhere in the midst of all this, I officially retired from my job of seven years. Talk about an anticlimax. I had been on medical leave through my surgeries and recovery, back for about a week before treatment began to tie up loose ends, then back on medical leave for chemo. My official last day was last week and that milestone got washed away in all of the ups and downs of treatment. My husband announced his retirement this week, so in two months, we’ll both be in a new phase of our lives, although I feel as if I’ve been in a new phase since my diagnosis.
When I initially decided to retire earlier this year, it was, ironically, inspired by a desire to focus on my health. I had been having some other health problems, unrelated to cancer, and began to reprioritize taking care of myself — exercise, eating right, losing weight. I was on a great path, looking forward to the next chapter and beginning it in the best shape I’d been in in years. I had a vision of celebrating in some fashion, followed by travel, volunteering, then perhaps some consulting to keep my hand in my profession.
All of that pretty much bit the dust when I was diagnosed with cancer. Talk about a life-changing event. Literally everything is seen through a new lens. But I am extremely grateful to have been able to be on medical leave for my surgeries and recovery, and to have the time now to focus on my treatment and all that comes with it. Not being able to exercise in the same way, and having issues with what I can eat, to say nothing of the effects of the chemo, has meant that I’ve gained a few pounds and lost strength, but I’m trying to tell myself that there will be time to get back on track once this is behind me. Frustrating, but the least of my worries these days.
As for future plans, I no longer think consulting will be on the menu, unless an amazing project comes along that I simply can’t turn away. My volunteer interests have changed dramatically and will likely be more focused on supporting breast cancer awareness and treatment. I am still hopeful about a smaller celebration when all of this is over — but the theme of that will be more about surviving and saying thank you to all of those who have supported me, and less about a retirement party. As for travel, that’s still on the bucket list, but tempered by this experience — Spain and Portugal are top of the list for our next big trip, but I suspect that a long weekend in Cape Cod might be more reasonable at the end of radiation treatment, depending on how I’m doing.
Bottom line: I’m retired, but I still have cancer.