When you walk out of the doctor's office with good news, the CT scan was good and the blood tumor marker test was down where they want it — you get in the car and digest the news. And just take it in.

Close Up Photography of FlowerNow what? If you are also feeling better, getting on with an interrupted life is on the agenda — at least until the next checkup. For me, that's just another three scant months, and with pancreatic cancer, the statistics show that only six to eight percent will live five years. So it does take time and a lot of checkups to bring cancer comeback thoughts under control. My situation has resulted in more like a 40% chance of living to five years, according to some recent studies. While far worse than breast and some other cancers, these odds are a step up.

Biking in the breeze, floating in a pool, tackling tennis — makes me feel so alive right now. It's all good, as my sister says. Going back to a healthy routine and discovering life anew. What else shall I do?

So, I think to myself — gardening feeds my appreciation of life's enriching cycles. My fiancé John and I plant three gardens in the summer, including vegetables, annuals and perennials. I planted some new areas with bulbs in the fall — can't wait to see them emerge!

Looking through the lens of my camera, I see nature, people and places in new ways. I get some of them printed on big canvasses, a series of sunflowers, waves, birds and travels. Giving them away is rewarding too. A close-up lens sits right here for discovery on my next outing.

I'm volunteering for various cancer causes, including a pancreatic cancer walk (lustgarten.org, where 100% goes to research). There are so few survivors available to walk in my local event, just the families, and I have found myself thrown back into the horror of all the death around. I'm not ready, in my time of wellness, to be in too deep. I am choosing the ways to help that lift me up. So I help mostly from home, on my computer. We can choose to do what we can do.

Carry on.


Share Your Thoughts

What do you do when you get good news about your cancer diagnosis? What are you inspired to do? Share your comments below.

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About the Author

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Susan Stansbury was raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where her little bedroom window overlooked Little Bay de Noc off of Lake Michigan. After working in Chicago for a couple of years out of college, Susan moved back to Wisconsin. "Little did I realize this would mean a career in industry," she says. She joined some companies where she was the first woman in marketing management. She often worked on medical disposable products such as transdermal patches and antibacterial wet wipes. In 2002, Susan left the corporate world to work for herself helping small businesses with marketing needs from business plans, to research, photography and promotions. She gave speeches to industry groups in the United States and occasionally in Europe about topics like sustainability and packaging. With her clients' participation, she developed a manufacturers' expo, which she recently sold, at Green Bay's Lambeau Field Atrium. She writes an occasional article for industry magazines. Increasingly, however, her writing and photography are personal projects. Susan was diagnosed in 2014 with pancreatic cancer.

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Susan@RightAngleConcepts.com
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

Thank you, Amy. Aren't those moments great when we can think about things like "biking in the breeze," feeling good right now. I recently tripped and fell on an escalator, and didn't even care...it was only some bruises...not cancer.

Amy Koch
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

Susan, I have been thinking quite a bit about this very topic lately. What now? I'm glad it's a problem I have - what do I do with my time now that I "only" have to go in every 3 months for scans? Biking in the breeze is a great start!