Now that my home office is gorgeous again, I can survey the things that inspire me as I work. Over my desk are various reminders of professional achievements (framed certificates/college diploma, my article that was published the same month as my tumor diagnosis, etc.), reminders of personal achievements (my son's artwork, family pictures, etc.), and some things that really tickle me (gifts from former employees and co-workers, a framed copy of an advertisement that features my son when he was a baby/model, a box containing "CEO Barbie" - dressed in a pinstripe suit - so I could pretend I looked like that when I became president of a medical device company - the one whose ad features my son - and one book that influenced me as an adolescent second only to the scriptures: Real Women Don't Pump Gas). Hanging on the wall opposite my desk is a framed print of The Elder Sister, by William Adolphe Bouguereau, which along with a matching mousepad were gifts from two of my younger brothers who lived with us one summer. I also have a shelf with some antique medical devices and pharmaceuticals displayed, along with some antique medical books (including one ominous copy of Essentials of Neurology -- who knew??). It's hard not to walk into my office without learning a lot about me. Thank goodness it's not the huge mess that it used to be (and thank goodness I'm not, either).
In his book, 101 Exercises for the Soul, Dr. Bernie Siegel says that over God's desk there is a plaque that reads, "If you go around saying 'I've got a miserable life', I'll show you what miserable really is. And if you go around saying 'I've got a wonderful life', I'll show you what wonderful really is." Whether that is literally true or not, the concept is right on target. Misery does breed misery, and gratitude does reveal an abundance of blessings. Dr. Seigel goes on to say that "The future is unknown, and we should never let our fears, worries, and negative attitudes prevent us from enjoying the day and finding fulfillment, no matter what tomorrow seems to hold."
This is a natural time of fear and worry, awaiting this week's MRI scan. We don't know whether it will give us one more sigh of relief, or whether it will open a new Pandora's box. My dad put it well after I told him the results of my last MRI scan, when he said, "Of course it was good, and it will continue to be good until the Lord decides you are finished down here." (Hopefully cleaning my office wasn't the last thing I needed to do in this life!) He makes a good point. But when the medical team treats recurrence as a "when", not an "if" situation; and when "glioblastoma multiforme" automatically labels me in their world as the walking dead who will hopefully string along for a few extra months, it takes a concentrated effort to avoid absorbing that attitude. But no matter what the next scan looks like, I have to remember that my only guarantee is today - in some portion, at least. Even if I were somehow miraculously cancer-free. That's how it is for all of us. We have today. Tomorrow could bring anything - plummeting aircraft, freaky aneurysm, drunk driver, unsanitary restaurant workers, bird flu - or whatever. Today brings an opportunity to live, love, and savor. If I make it to Thursday, I will have an emotional ride through the MRI tube and a sentencing hearing with my oncologist. Whatever is, is. I know that I will have the resources I need to deal with whatever "is". If I spend each Today acknowledging the wonderful life that I have, and the great blessings that are always attending me throughout this experience, perhaps Thursday's outcome - whatever it is - will be an opportunity for God to show me what wonderful really is.