Health Magazine

Living in the Day; Planning for the Future

Posted on the 13 February 2015 by Jean Campbell


Just a few weeks after I completed treatment for my first cancer, 16 years ago, I spent a day with friends. Over lunch, conversation soon turned to early retirement plans among those who had government jobs.

As I listened, I couldn’t help wondering if planning for retirement was something I had to concern myself about. I was still focusing on getting through the days from one post-treatment follow up appointment to the other. It was easier living in each day, not projecting, getting done whatever I needed and wanted to do was enough for me.

Short-term planning, such as how to get my strength back and  fulfilling personal and business commitments, made prior to my diagnosis were all I was a able to manage in the weeks and months that followed treatment. Long term planning didn’t enter my mind; yet I knew I had to plan for the future as if  I expected to have one. I began small, with goals for growing my business that could be accomplished within 6 months (my time between doctor visits) and personal activities…a  short vacation or a long overdue visit to a friend. My planning time expanded as the space between doctor visits grew farther apart. Six months of planning became a year.

During the years between my cancers, the  trick became balancing living in the day with planning for the future. Not so easy…good health and years of being cancer-free made me more confident about planning. I began to plan like someone who had  never had a life-threatening illness. When my second cancer was discovered,  it was time for a refresher course in living in each day, but still planning for the future. It was easier the second time around.

It has been over five years since my second cancer. They have been mostly good years, with the exception of last year. Early in 2014, someone near and dear to me was diagnosed, out of the blue, with an aggressive cancer. No, not breast cancer, one I had never seen up close before.

Once again, I found myself struggling to live in the day and not project, and not give ground to the “what ifs.” As the months of my loved one’s treatment went on, I resurrected the tools I used during my two cancers to get me balanced, able to live in the day, while planning  for the future.

I have come to realize that whether it is our own cancer, or that of a loved one, our biggest and often hardest challenge is to live each day, and not let cancer steal our days.

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