A diagnosis of cancer in Alberta comes with a free gift: a red card. I need to show this card for identification at all Cancer Centre appointments. You know, in case anyone tries to steal my chemo or take my radiation. I keep my red card in my wallet at all times because I need it at the ready, but I wish I didn’t have to. Red is the colour of danger and sirens and alarms and other bad stuff. I don’t hate a lot of things but I hate my red card, and I’ll never be able to cut it into little pieces like my expired credit card because I’ll always have leukemia.
So I was glad to hear that the red card is going to be replaced by a white card. White is bland and boring and not red, which seems an improvement. Not only that, each white cards will have a message of hope on the back. Jessica Dollard, that magnificent Patient Experience Advisor for the Calgary Cancer Project, invited patient advisors like me to provide such a message.
I found this task challenging. I tried to write something from my heart, but because I am shallow, I thought Rita Mae Brown said it better (with thanks to my dear friend W.): “Happiness is pretty simple: someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to.” I often come back to this quote when I’m feeling blue.
I’m lucky to have the first two directives down. I am blessed to have J. and many other loving people around me who support me. And I can usually come up with something to do, whether it’s walking the dog, going to yoga, cooking a nice meal, or writing my blog. I don’t do nearly as much as you do in a day, or nearly as much as I used to do, but I do what I can.
Sometimes I forget the importance of having something to look forward to, but I thought of this goal a lot on our trip. J. and I have a longstanding vacation tradition: we plan for our next trip on our current trip. I’ve been having trouble getting J. to buy into this notion over the past while, amidst all our cancelled and pared-down trips. Who am I kidding? I’ve been having trouble with the whole trip-planning thing too. When our hopes are dashed repeatedly, we lose focus on the future.
But this trip has felt different than those recent thwarted attempts at travel. We’ve had a successful week away (with a few health blips that are inconsequential and not worth going into now), and our trip planning tradition magically resurfaced. Maybe I’m over the hump, maybe we’ve got some time, maybe we’ll be able to follow through with our plans for the next while at least. I won’t tell you what we came up with–I’m becoming a little superstitious of late, and don’t want to jinx our dreams–but I will tell you we have tentative ideas for our next two vacations, to places we’ve wanted to go but put off because I haven’t been able.
What have you got to look forward to? I’d recommend you find something if you’ve lost focus. I’m happy to have some future aspirations, just as Rita told me I’d be.