Looking back, looking forward

Five years ago this week, I was a scientist at NASA Headquarters, running selections for the next $400M mission to the planets.  Then I became a mom.

Four years ago this week, I was juggling both my science role and my mom role, and my heart nearly broke every time I had to leave my little one at home with Grandma.

Three years ago this week, I was at home full-time, but alone with my active and curious toddler while on pregnancy bedrest.  We came up with some wonderful activities … and a few that were real stretches.  I started this blog to talk about our adventures.

Two years ago this week, I was in chemotherapy, exhausted, wan, and isolated for risk of infection.  Then I made promises to myself that I would do more, and perhaps do it differently when I was better.

One year ago this week, I was recovering from an emergency oopherectomy, wondering what the future held.

This week, I threw my big kid the best party I could imagine, a science adventure — at his request! — with 10 of his closest friends.  We made, and ate, birthday cake not once but twice.  We played outside in the late summer sun.  We went out for ice at our favorite summer place.  Both boys started preschool, and it looks like it may even stick this time.  I buckled down and began editing the chapters I’ve written for the NASA book.  My husband is making major progress at work, and we’re celebrating that (even though I don’t talk about him here).  I just started a PT-approved fitness regimen, and it looks like the back pain may even be improving as a result.  It’s a new life.  Not a perfect life.  Not a pain or trouble free life, but … it’s life.

It’s my life.

And I intend to turn my eyes forward now, and plan beyond the short horizon that I’ve been focused on, worried about, convinced that I must achieve ALL my goals in … and live.

I might even take time to go for a walk.  Because I want to be here

In one year, when I am finishing the book, sending my oldest child to kindergarten, and teaching my youngest to write his letters.

In two years, when the book goes to press, my youngest goes to pre-K, and my oldest starts first grade.

In three years, when I’m back at NASA, or on to a new adventure, but still home in time for milk and cookies with my grade-schoolers.  (At least half the time.  The children do have two parents, after all.)

In four years, when … you know, I haven’t looked that far, out beyond my 5 year survival horizon, since I was diagnosed.  For the first time in my life, I honestly don’t have a five year plan.  But you know what?  I plan to be here.

That’s my new plan.

I plan to be here.

Stick around.  The getting’s about to get really good.


20 Responses to Looking back, looking forward

  1. Stimey says:

    Right on. Great post!!! You have done some amazing things in the past five years. Here’s too at least five more, with even better things, and less of the bad.

  2. cbz says:

    Three cheers for all you have endured and all that you have planned. You are an amazing woman and I am lucky to have you in my life. We look forward to celebrating with all of you every step of the way. Congratulations on a wonderful plan!

  3. Carla says:

    Your story continues to inspire me. I am encouraged to do some new things that are no where near as courageous but hard for me nonetheless. Thank you.

  4. marty says:

    I like that plan.

  5. Lyn says:

    I love this post. Time has stopped for me right now going through chemo, thinking of an upcoming surgery, hoping and praying that the treatment is killing the IBC. Stories like yours give those of us just starting out on our cancer adventure hope and something positive to look forward to, and I am thankful I get to watch you meet those goals in the coming years.

  6. Cookie says:

    Sounds like a great plan!

  7. upsidebackwards says:

    It is a great plan. I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens. Thanks for letting us come along! You are an inspiration, and I’m so glad I found your blog.

  8. *m* says:

    I love this. You and your guys have great times ahead of you. They are at a glorious age, and because of your experiences, you clearly have a heightened appreciation for the magic of these days, exhausting though they may be. I look at my 6-foot “baby” and wonder…where did the time go?

    Enjoy it, enjoy them…and take more videos than I did!

  9. kgirl says:

    Good plan. See you in 5 years.

  10. Amelie says:

    You’ve done amazing things in the last 5 years, and your plan for the next sounds great. Enjoy it!

  11. Joan says:

    So happy for you and your family, Susan! Keep enjoying what I refer to as the “gravy!” (When I was first diagnosed, all I hoped for was to attend my youngest child’s high school graduation (1 1/2 years post my diagnosis). That was a joyous occasion, but every day after that (over a year now) I consider to be my gravy — and I am loving every bit of it!)

    Hoping for lots and lots of gravy days for all of us grateful survivors!

  12. NYfriend says:

    Awesome! Love the plan, and you’ve always made it such an amazing adventure!

    On a related note – would love to hear more details about the science adventure birthday party!!

  13. Linda Lawrence says:

    Great plan! 🙂

  14. This is such an uplifting post… I could see the smile on your face as you typed every word… it made me smile too… you go girl, enjoy every moment…

  15. What a wonderful post! Happy birthday to your biggest kid and here’s to looking forward to a fabulous future full of exciting things both personal and professional!

  16. Theresa says:

    Congratulations on your incredible journey!

  17. […] forward, again Okay, universe, did you READ my last post about the past and the future?  Did you SEE how I didn’t mention Cancer in my future ONE TINY BIT?  Did you see that […]

  18. aftercancer says:

    What a great post. I’m with you, I plan on getting really old, just to prove a few people wrong!

  19. Spacemom says:


    I’ve had little time to read lately, but MAN I love your passion for life!

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