A Life Changing Phone Call
Do you remember that one time when, for a moment,time stood still? Six weeks ago, a phone call from my doctor became one of those moments for me. I felt unsteady and in disbelief as we said goodbye. I had cancer. I didn’t understand how this was possible; I had just turned forty. I know my kid’s think I’m ancient, but forty seems too young for something like this. It certainly wasn’t the outcome I’d expected when doing a few routine tests my doctor recommended. She had assured me the results would likely be normal, but were necessary just to be sure nothing was missed.
This is no doubt a difficult time in my life, but even so, there is reason to be optimistic and grateful. Endometrial cancer is very treatable, so long as it’s caught early. I won’t know how far mine has progressed until mid-November when I have surgery.
The Power Of Time
Besides fear, I’ve felt frustration and grief for having wasted so much time.
The advantage of youth is that time stretches out before you like straight, open road. The disadvantage is the tendency to take time for granted, get distracted, take too many rest stops, believing you have time available in an endless supply. Of course, none of us are really guaranteed more time, and cognitively we know that, but we behave as if we are.
And there I was at forty years old, assuming I had another forty to burn, allowing each day to blow past me as quickly as the wind, but not minding so much, because there was always tomorrow.
For the first time in my adult life, I am painfully aware of how precarious and uncertain life is. I could explain every emotion I’ve had in these few weeks, but I think, if you imagine yourself in that position, you will feel what I feel. Instead, it would be more beneficial to tell you about the transformation this has ignited.
I know it may sound trite, but in a strange way, I’m glad it’s happening, and not because I relish pain or worry. These kinds of events have the power to awaken us from our haze, from our automatic pilot way of living, to forever change our trajectory.
Each day I wake, I spend those first few minutes thinking about the day. I feel so motivated to live more intentionally – not for others, my pride or any other reason. This diagnosis has caused me to think in terms of outcomes; what kind of life do I want to live? For me?
This experience has become a swift driver of change, a powerful sense of urgency burning in my chest. I have goals to pursue, places to see, experiences to be had, relationships to be cultivated and cherished. This is true whether I have 40 days or 40 years to go.
Waves of emotion have swept over me in these few weeks, and sometimes they’re really messy, but what consistently surfaces is the desire for a connected, meaningful and purposeful life. Instead of despair, I am choosing to harness these emotions as an impetus for change.
I can curse the wind for being cold and cruel, or I can hoist a sail and make it launch my ship into the sea.
~ Jacob Nordby
If you are reading this, my hope for you is that my experience will inspire you to assess your life, make changes and live your best version – the one you’ve always daydreamed about once all the have to’s and fears that hold you back have cleared away. Stop wasting time. Stop being afraid. Stop being so practical that you put off that experience yet again. Live on purpose.