Until recently, there was never any question about my priorities. I wrote way back in October that “my first priority has to go to my health, my second to my emotional well-being, and my third, to school.” It has been that way since I was diagnosed–out of necessity, out of sanity, and just because it made sense to me.

Lately, though, this 1-2-3 approach hasn’t been making much sense to me. I’ve been putting my emotional well-being (which includes sleep, and spending time with my family and friends, and relaxing, and enjoying my life) first, second comes school (or sometimes first), and third… my health. This doesn’t mean that i’m not taking my chemo because i’m out drinking or not going to my important doctor’s appointments or getting my blood drawn when i’m told to because i’m busy doing whatever it is I do all day that keeps me so busy… it just means that i’m trying to balance all of this stuff. It means i’m trying to live with cancer, and fit it into my life where it fits, and cancelling and rescheduling where it doesn’t fit. I often feel good–so I have the luxury to do that. Whereas in the past I was at the will and whim of my doctors and their schedulers when it came to setting up appointments, now i’m trying to schedule my appointments around classes and meetings and extracurricular activities so they don’t interfere. This makes sense to me right now–i’m in the middle of my end-of-the-quarter push and all of these second opinions and other “extra-credit” appointments that aren’t essential right now can wait until spring break or the beginning of next quarter when I don’t have a million other things to think about. Can’t they? I make school to-do lists, I make cancer to-do lists, I make life to-do lists–It’s an organizational nightmare.

Following this, i’ve been trying to schedule my transplant evaluation around school because it’s not acute (it’s way in the future), because I haven’t made a decision yet about the transplant, and because I keep waiting for them to call me and tell me that my insurance hasn’t been worked out after all. But i’m trying to do it the week they told me they want to do it even though i’d rather put it off til spring break. If i’m going to have to wait a year or three years for a new liver, what’s another two weeks? They don’t think about it that way–they want to do it now. So I was telling the scheduler my class schedule the other day and she says something like, “We’ll try to work around your schedule, but if you have to miss class for an appointment, maybe seeing the doctor is more important.”


Maybe it is. I’m focused on making this final (well, now, ten-month) push toward finishing this darn quarter and getting my master’s degree, but it’s all really just a diversion. Isn’t it? If I didn’t go to these appointment and take my chemo and notice any symptoms or side effects and keep up with the organizational nightmare that is cancer, I wouldn’t have a reason to get a master’s degree aside from (spoken with slight sarcasm) the pure enjoyment of getting it. I wouldn’t have a future. If my doctors are right, and a transplant is my only/best option aside from taking chemo as long as it keeps working or waiting for “the cure,” I won’t have a future if I don’t prepare for a transplant now. If that means missing a class or a career fair to make an appointment…so be it. Having a future is more important than going to class or trying to get an internship for the summer.


But there are so many things vying for my attention right now, so many “all-important” assignment deadlines and meetings and people counting on me for things that it’s hard to keep up, to put things in perspective like that. I feel like I should come to some sort of conclusion, but I haven’t really changed my mind. I’m caught up in the minutia right now. I’m completely aware of that. If they want to do my transplant evaluation right now, also, there’s nothing I can really do about that. What I can do is try to fit in as much as I can and schedule and reschedule and run and get less sleep until I do.

However, at the beginning of this post, I said my first priority was my emotional well-being. And scheduling and rescheduling and running and not sleeping stresses me out–which, ultimately, is not good for my health or my happiness. I am not a machine. Last night I stayed up late working, and this morning I accidentally overslept my alarm by two hours. Something doesn’t fit into this equation, and right now, I really wish it was cancer.

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One Response to priorities

  1. Lini says:

    I can completely relate to the difficulties you are having with managing your priorities. I usually have a hard enough time trying to manage school, family, and friends. I can’t imagine also having to juggle all the responsibilities that come with having cancer. Although I don’t always enjoy all the craziness that comes with life, I try to stay motivated and be happy that I have the life that I have. I think the three priorities you mentioned in the beginning of this post are vital in maintaining one’s sanity. As long as we stick to the priorities that we set for ourselves, we’ll be alright.

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