Getting back to our next normal

Updated: Feb 15

A diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer changes life forever. The future that once seemed so clear now looks like a bank of fog. That was how I saw things four and a half years ago when I was diagnosed. I was six months into my retirement, and had a clear picture of how I wanted to spend this next chapter in my life.


Cancer changed my outlook from one of long-term planning and delayed experiences to one of short-term planning and living out my dreams now — while I felt healthy enough to enjoy them. With each successful scan, I planned a new travel adventure, trips to see the grandkids, and excursions to new golf courses across Minnesota. I am so fortunate that Xalkori has worked well for me. I have been able to enjoy these many experiences, and I was looking forward to more.


Then the virus hit, and all planning came to a halt. Trips were canceled. Dinner with friends was out. Even walking to the local pub with my wife was too dangerous. Visiting and hugging the grandkids was put on indefinite hold.


Every one of us is asking the same question: When are things going to get back to normal? My first instinct is, of course, to do everything possible to keep myself safe. Studies indicate lung cancer patients run a much higher rate of mortality if they contract the virus.


I should put off my planned experiences for a future day, but this runs counter to my desire to experience as much as I can now, knowing that I am just one scan away from not being able to do so. This is especially tough when I think about all the hugs from my grandkids I might lose.


I don’t have answers to the questions, but my wife and I have decided to focus on a balance of risk and reward. If I live for today, how much risk am I willing to take? What can I do to minimize the risks so that I can experience just a little more? As a mathematician, I wish I could assign number values to each of these risks and each of these rewards, but for now I’ll have to rely on my intuition and any available research.


In this next normal, I wish all of you as many experiences as you can create, and many safe and healthy days.

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