Living each day

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling introspective, and I asked you all to play along.  The question of the day was,

If you knew that you may not be here next week, next month, or next year, would you do things differently?

The answers are awesome.  Go read if you are curious, or leave your own comment if you didn’t before.  It’s really neat.

I was searching too, wondering how to balance my need to cuddle my babies all day long with my desire to leave a legacy for them, out in the world, and here at home.  I’ve always had a project to focus on before, whether at work, at home, or in the volunteer world.  It’s been kind of strange for me to have to focus on myself and my health the last few months, and it’s kind of distorting, actually.

I guess that’s why I’ve been searching and seeking a bit here in blog-world.  Starting this IBC awareness campaign.  Trying to get the word out.  Measuring with the metric of the blog tour, or media articles, as if sheer numbers would help make a difference here.

It’s been good.  But it’s also been consuming.  All cancer, all the time, except when I visit your blogs and get to hear about school days, playdates, pregnancy woes, and the little joys that we all revel in every day.  Those are a nice respite.

Last week, I went on a little trip.  I’ve been talking about it a bit, and today’s the last day I’m really going to mention it, I think, but I just want to say how GREAT it was to leave the cancer behind for a few days.  WonderDaddy really was WONDERFUL to help me along on the trip, from driving us there (and back!), to helping me downstairs to the meeting each morning and back up after lunch, to bringing me medicine and ordering room service, and all the other little bits that make up each day.

He also helped me tons when I cratered at lunch the first day.  I had a full-out attack, sweating, dizzy, fainting, nausea, cramping, spiking a fever, and all sorts of weird things happening to my body.  The chemo drugs just caught up to me, apparently, and my body revolted.  WonderDaddy put me to bed and helped me relax about missing part of the meeting downstairs.  And then he did it again the next day.  He helped me cut myself some slack.

He also helped give me the confidence to go downstairs to the meeting each morning.  It wasn’t easy, walking into a room full of (mostly) senior (mostly) men responsible for such amazing science and engineering feats, knowing that I wasn’t at my best. 

Knowing that I would only be able to be there for an hour or two at a time.

Knowing that I couldn’t get up to ask questions, cause I might not be very steady on my feet.

Knowing that they might look at me in my jaunty little hat and think that I wasn’t taking the conference seriously, that I was trying to be stylish in a roomful of “serious” scientists.

Knowing that the buff stuffed inside my hat to make me look less sick and more like I had hair under there would make my head sweat and make me more tired under the heat of the lights.

Knowing that I would be revealing weakness where I once tried to exude strength.

That was hard.

But it was good for me.

It was a first step toward something new — NOT living each day as if it were my last.

Laying the groundwork for future work.

Devising new ideas for a project that will further the goals of space science.  And my goals for the future.

Because today is NOT my last day.  And neither is tomorrow.  God willing, I will have at least a couple years left on this planet.

And if I want to spend part of my time trying to improve life on this planet or exploring other planets, that’s okay. 

Good, even.

So tomorrow I will post again about advocacy efforts, and I will throw myself into that and a new space science project, full-bore — because finally I can see beyond the present and into a future.

My future.

A future that requires careful planning and groundwork that may not pay off for weeks or months.

Because I’ll be here then.  I will. 

For a while, I’m going to try to NOT live every day as if it were my last.


20 Responses to Living each day

  1. Wonderful! I think that sounds like a perfect plan. WM, I continue to stand in awe of you. Go. Do science with the best of them.

  2. Linda L. says:

    Fabulous, wonderful! Great! We all benefit from your insight! We all need future goals!

  3. b*babbler says:

    I am in awe of your determination and strength! I hope you find motivation in your work.

  4. WorksForMom says:

    You never cease to amaze me. I heart your WhyMommy!

  5. ~JJ! says:

    There’s a girl!

    Great outlook. I am so proud of you.

    You are doing wonderful things here. For yourse;f and for us all!!!

    I heart you.

  6. PunditMom says:

    Finding the balance for all of us is hard. But the reminder is a good one.

  7. I am very impressed by the vivaciousness that exudes from you! I think the art of living is NOT living every day as if it’s your last… it’s living every day so that you will have no regrets. Every day should be well spent- whether it’s with others you love, whether it’s working on something important to you, or whether it’s taking very good care of yourself.

  8. imstell says:

    One step at a time, WhyMommy. One step at a time.

  9. Meg says:

    Amen sister!!! I am impressed at your will and determination, and I applaud you. I am grateful for your insight into all of this. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. zellmer says:

    I don’t think you have to worry about whether or not you’re leaving a legacy. I think you already have. You are incredible!

  11. Carrie says:


    Even though you don’t think you did, I bet you rocked that conference. And how wonderful to have a supportive partner in crime (your hubs) to help when you need him.

    I know whatever work you are doing must be very good, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. And I think you are quite possibly the coolest scientist I “know”.

  12. canape says:

    A couple of years at the very very least.

  13. lia says:

    Robin from Around the Island sent me here, and I’m so glad I came. Good for you for both asking the question about how you’d live life differently if today were your last . . . and then having the courage to look up and step into the future with that new knowledge.

  14. whymommy says:

    Canape, I have to be realistic. Only 40% of IBC patients make it to 5 years. 90% suffer a recurrence. I can see the cancer on my chest. It’s taken over the whole of my right breast. All of it. I can feel the cords connecting the giant lump o’ cancer to my chest wall. That’s bad. Quite bad. Even after four rounds of treatment, it’s still there. I fear its spread elsewhere in my body. I don’t know if it is or if it has. But (with apologies to Monty Python) … I’m not dead yet!

    Now THAT was in poor taste. 🙂

  15. twithhoney says:

    A girl like you would have to know her Monty Python!

    I am seriously impressed that you mustered up courage and physical strength to attend a science conference. That’s awesome! Any chance you can give me some more details?

  16. Matt says:

    You are already immortal. People who never met you, who never heard the sound of your voice, who haven’t read any of your scientific work have all come to the same conclusions:

    They wish and want to actually meet you.

    Through your selfless communication on this blog, they feel as if they do know you.

    They respect you.

    They wish only the best for you.

    They love you.

    They know that, whatever the outcome of your fight, that their lives will be better and more meaningful for having shared it with you.

    That you make other people better, just by being who you are.

    I’m with canape – two years better be the minimum we get to watch you make the world a better place.

    But whether it’s to be or not, your legacy of love and determination and spirited involvement and inclusiveness will not be diminished.

    Just look at this community that has formed around you. Can you seriously doubt that any member of it has not been positively affected by her or his participation? You have added significantly to the love quotient of the world. What a legacy.

  17. You continue to awe and inspire me. I loved this post! Everyone always talks about what they’d do with only so much time to live, but you are right: There is courage in living for today AND for tomorrow. A legacy indeed.

  18. Jessica says:

    You rock. I can’t say it any other way. My prayers are with you–every day.

  19. magnetobold says:

    Now I KNOW I like you! Monty Python quotes….. Life of Brian is my favourite movie and I quote it all the time much to the puzzlement of everyone I know who have no idea what I am talking about!

    IBC does not define you. You are a mum (or mom), a wife, a friend, a scientist, a hero to hundreds of us all over the world. If you stopped talking about IBC tomorrow we would still be here. You are a wonderful writer and we want to get to know you, not your cancer. We are all praying for your recovery so in years to come we can pop in and say ‘Hey remember back when you were sick, that was a hard time, thank God it is over. Hey haven’t the boys grown!’
    That is what I am looking forward to.

  20. Good idea, because imagine if you lived each day as if it were your last and then you…kept going…and going…and going… 🙂 You will have spent all your money on handbags and lipstick (or, I guess I would have!) Love ya!

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