Welcome to My Cancer Circus

Posted April 24, 2013 by jimhigley

“You’re living in a  f*%king cancer circus. Can’t you just move on and put it in the past?”

When you’re traveling through a cancer journey, you hear a lot of crazy things. But that was the craziest thing I heard. If not the cruelest.


Well, my friends, that cancer circus began eight years ago today.

And in my books that makes me an eight-year survivor. April 24 is the day my doctor called me at home on a Sunday afternoon to share my biopsy results. Life’s never been the same since. I say that not for drama. It’s just a fact.

I feel an emotional connection with this date. April 24. It’s right up there with my birthday and the birthdays of my three kids.

Over these last few years I’ve tried to write a positive, upbeat post about life as a survivor every April 24. It’s usually good stuff. At least I hope so. But it’s how I’ve felt. I’ve felt enriched by the experiences I’ve had in the past years. And, as Hallmarky as it sounds, I really do think that every moment is a gift.

I’m also abundantly aware that my eight year string of good news could change with another phone call on any Sunday afternoon. This time coming – in my mind – when my most recent quarterly blood tests come back with a curve ball.


But I don’t feel like writing about that today. The truth is, I’m actually feeling a little weighted down these days. For lots of reasons. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not going through anything more difficult than most of you, I’m sure. But they are things that unsettle me. Scare me. Make me feel a little vulnerable. Totally vulnerable.

And that’s okay.

Because, you see, that’s the flip-side of my post-cancer world. Life’s not 100% rainbows and puppy dogs. As we all know, rainbows often follow intense, pounding storms. And puppy dogs poop in the living room.

Welcome to life. Right?

Which brings me to what I’m thinking about on this eight year anniversary.

How do I deal with adversity? (Yes indeedy, even positive-thinking cancer survivors struggle with this!) For me, the cancer circus I apparently live in has taught me that I basically have three choices to make every day:

  1. I can pull the covers up over my head and go back to bed.
  2. I can go through my day, but choose to disconnect from the things and people twirling around me – focusing soley on the target of the day.
  3. I can jump in to my day with both feet. Engaged. Embracing the serendipity. And sift through the crud that occasionally shows up.

I like #3. Mostly because my cancer circus has shown me that in order to fully appreciate the highs, you have to be willing to stare the detours right in the eyes. It’s as simple as that for me.

And that’s what I’m thinking about on this April 24.

Now this ringmaster has three rings of life to enjoy. From my vantage point, it’s still the greatest show on earth. Puppy poop and all.

  • http://www.whithonea.com/ Whit

    Geez, Jim. Can’t you move past your life-changing experience and be bored by everything like the rest of us?

    Personally, I hope to read one of these posts every April 24th for a very long time. Happy anniversary, my friend.

    • jimhigley

      I do think this is my favorite comment of all time!

  • Mike Larson

    July 27 is mine.

    I also had a friend tell me after a couple of drinks that running a marathon is harder than fighting cancer…

    Great post. Coincidentally, I had a similar post about my batter earlier this week. http://www.5oclockhero.com/2013/04/cancer-and-fatherhood-survivor-story.html

    Wishing you nothing but the best.

    • jimhigley

      Incredible (the marathon story)….jeez! Thanks for sharing. Stay healthy!

    • jimhigley

      And your blog was TERRIFIC!