I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I will focus on caregiving. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, where I will share ways to increase your creativity. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is P for Plan B – A Change in Plans.
My husband, Dan and I were recently talking about the fact that most people don’t really believe their wedding vows. They are standing before the minister (or whoever they choose to officiate their wedding). There beside them is the person they love most in the world. Their friends and family may even be watching this moment. The bride and groom often have overcome a few hurdles to get to this point. From this time on, they will be moving forward and upward. At least, that’s what they think! They vow to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death when they part. What they are really saying is “For better, for richer, in health, we will live.” Anything else is plan B.
Not what we planned
When I married my husband in 2009, we had all of the hopes and dreams that any newlywed couple has. It was the second marriage for both of us. We each had three children. His were grown and mine were still very young. The girls instantly thought of him as their dad, and he adopted them in January of 2012.
When you have all of your hopes and dreams suddenly ripped from your hands, it can be shocking. It’s easy to see why one of the first things people in this situation feel is denial. I remember thinking that there was no way Dan could have cancer. We’d already been through a lot prior to meeting each other, falling in love, and getting married. He had just adopted my daughters a year earlier. We made short-term mission trips a regular part of our lives. He was pastoring a church. God wouldn’t let this happen to us, right?
Then, test results start coming back.
Facing Plan B
Once you get beyond the shock and denial, you can begin to figure out what life is going to look like with cancer in the picture. This is plan B. It’s the best you can do with the worst situation. You take all of your assets, your support system, your medical team, finances, time, your skills, and your drive and arrange them like pieces on a chess board. You defend your king and try to think three moves ahead whenever possible.
Plan B requires flexibility
You always have to be willing to change your plans. Appointments can change with little or no notice. The way a cancer patient feels can change like the weather, only it’s less predictable. People you are counting on might have to back out at the last minute. When these changes happen you need to be ready to change, too. It requires emotional and mental flexibility as much as the ability to make these changes. You have to take it all in stride. Try not to get too discouraged. It’s bound to hit you, but don’t let it keep you down very long.
It isn’t the “booby prize”
Recently my husband had to change treatments. He went from a very easy treatment with very few side effects to old-fashioned, hardcore chemo. As he was reading about this on some cancer forums, he came across an entry that said, “Don’t think of chemo as the booby prize. It works.” Right now, chemo is our plan B. Whether your plan B is life with cancer or a lousy treatment option, it isn’t the booby prize. It just might be what you need to get to the next, best thing.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Someone played a recording of this speech by Dr. King, at a monthly caregiver group I attend. The man who played it told us to replace the word “street sweeper” with the word “caregiver.” Even the most difficult jobs can be done in such a glorious way. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. You just need to be dedicated.
Your Plan B Assignment.
Life with cancer is never the life you plan. The truth is, we can’t really count on life turning out as we plan. At some point, we end up facing plan B. When that happens, finding a way to accept plan B, and even see some of the blessings of it can bring you a lot of peace.
I’m in the early stages of putting together a resource page for caregivers of cancer patients. I’d love it if you’d check it out and email me any suggestions of resources you’d recommend. While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage you on your cancer journey.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker