Welcome to My Cancer Circus

04/26/2013 02:59 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2013
  • Jim Higley Bobblehead Dad; Author; Speaker; Parenting Columnist; Radio Host; Cancer Warrior

"You're living in a f*%king cancer circus. Can't you just move on and put it in the past?"

When you're traveling through a cancer journey, you hear a lot of crazy things. But that was the craziest thing I heard. If not the cruelest.


Well, my friends, that cancer circus began eight years ago today.

And in my books that makes me an eight-year survivor. Today is the day my doctor called me at home on a Sunday afternoon to share my biopsy results. Life's never been the same since. I say that not for drama. It's just a fact.

I feel an emotional connection with today. It's right up there with my birthday and the birthdays of my three kids.

Over these last few years I've tried to write a positive, upbeat post about life as a survivor on this date. It's usually good stuff. At least I hope so. But it's how I've felt. I've felt enriched by the experiences I've had in the past years. And, as Hallmarky as it sounds, I really do think that every moment is a gift.

I'm also abundantly aware that my eight-year string of good news could change with another phone call on any Sunday afternoon. This time coming -- in my mind -- when my most recent quarterly blood tests come back with a curve ball.


But I don't feel like writing about that today. The truth is, I'm actually feeling a little weighted down these days. For lots of reasons. And don't get me wrong, I'm not going through anything more difficult than most of you, I'm sure. But they are things that unsettle me. Scare me. Make me feel a little vulnerable. Totally vulnerable.

And that's okay.

Because, you see, that's the flip side of my post-cancer world. Life's not 100 percent rainbows and puppy dogs. As we all know, rainbows often follow intense, pounding storms. And puppy dogs poop in the living room.

Welcome to life. Right?

Which brings me to what I'm thinking about on this eight-year anniversary.

How do I deal with adversity? (Yes indeed, even positive-thinking cancer survivors struggle with this!). For me, the cancer circus I apparently live in has taught me that I basically have three choices to make every day:

  • I can pull the covers up over my head and go back to bed.
  • I can go through my day, but choose to disconnect from the things and people twirling around me -- focusing soley on the target of the day.
  • I can jump in to my day with both feet. Engaged. Embracing the serendipity. And sift through the crud that occasionally shows up.

I like number three. Mostly because my cancer circus has shown me that in order to fully appreciate the highs, you have to be willing to stare the detours right in the eyes. It's as simple as that for me.

And that's what I'm thinking about today.

Now this ringmaster has three rings of life to enjoy. From my vantage point, it's still the greatest show on earth. Puppy poop and all.

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