The Big C

Once upon a time I worked in an organization where there were two of us with names that began with C. I became “Big C” and she was “Little C”. I have no idea who made that designation, but it stuck.

Fast forward 15 years and “The Big C” takes on new meaning for me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m one of the lucky ones. My cancer is Stage 0, highly treatable, and my prognosis is excellent. I’m recovering from surgery, which unfortunately did not “get it all” so there is more treatment in my future, some of it inevitably painful and/or miserable. But the likelihood that I will end up cancer-free is way better than 50%. So if I have to recover from another surgery, or vomit for weeks, or lose my hair, or radiate the hell out of my private parts, then so be it. I’m not looking forward to it, but I know a positive outcome is likely.

Not everyone with The Big C can say that. My oncologist – when we met for the first time – said I was the bright spot in his day. (Imagine an oncologist having the wherewithal to identify the bright spots!) The patients before and after me were not as fortunate. I’d dance a celebratory jig, if only it wouldn’t split my stitches.

And not to beat an overused cliche to death, but the one thing this cancer diagnosis has done for me is force all the bullshit (that for whatever deluded reason seemed important) to immediately fall to the wayside. Suddenly, there was such clarity about what matters…and what doesn’t. Amen to that, but fuck! if only there were an easier way to achieve that clarity without having to endure surgery/chemo/radiation. I’m sure there is a way; apparently I missed the signs.

The Big C is a Big Sign. For me, it has been the Universe’s way of screaming at the top of its lungs, “Hello? [cue Adele] Are you paying attention, playing full-out with integrity and truth or are you taking this little shindig called life for granted, meandering aimlessly, making excuses? What makes you think you have forever? Because you don’t.”

When it comes right down to it, even without The Big C, we don’t.

Don’t wait for your “Big C.” Do it now. Create it now. Love it now. Leave it now. Take that step, that trip, that class, that chance. What are you waiting for? Life is finite. Big C or no Big C, that’s true for all of us.

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