Our lives are constantly under construction. This morning as my husband was measuring and cutting tongue and groove wooden planks for our new front porch decking, I realized the symbolism to my recent journey with DCIS, stage 0 breast cancer.
First, there is a problem (cancer) or an opportunity (an addition to the house) and one needs a plan to move forward. The plan for cancer was making decisions on my course of treatment and doing further testing. For our house, we hired a local architect, Greg Norris, who drew us a plan we A) liked and B) could afford. Funny, it seems that neither of these things are taken into consideration with a cancer diagnosis. Who in the heck “likes” treatment and how in the world would you begin to estimate the cost of your treatment? (medical bills are the topic of another blog).
With cancer, every stage brings in new doctors to shed light on the situation, add their professional opinion, and share their expertise. With a construction project, there are many specialists who come in at designated times to do their job: excavator, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and so on, with a general contractor to manage the process to make it timely and efficient. Aha! That is the difference. With cancer, YOU are the general contractor and don’t have experience with having cancer before (most likely). And you or your loved one(s) are expected to make decisions about your treatment type, doctors, hospitals and such when you are stressed and potentially not feeling well to boot.
Having just completed my final breast reconstruction treatment and teaming up with my husband on home renovation, I see this very clearly. And I totally respect the professionals both in construction and in the medical field. The difference comes down to choice and timing. We do not choose when or if to get cancer, but we can choose to add an addition to the house. Cancer just happens. And when it does, we need all the right tools to help us construct a personalized plan that works for us.
May your road be filled with people who have all the right tools, just when you need them. And when you are done, enjoy time on the front porch to reflect back on the journey and see what you’ve overcome, plank by plank. I’ll be staining my new front porch this week to prepare it for the many years ahead. And I’ll be sitting on the front porch soon enough.