What's Next?

“What’s your prognosis?” is a common question I am asked.

This is a polite of saying, “Are you going to die?’

My answer is, “Yes. I assume I am going to die at some point, but I don’t know when any more than you, non-cancer-ridden-person, do.”

Watching the Oscars a couple weeks ago I wondered, like many, why the director of Frozen, Chris Buck, thanked his son and “guardian angel” Ryder Buck in his acceptance speech. I mean… I didn’t really wonder "why." I assumed his son had died and was now watching over him. But again, like many, I wondered what had happened to this boy.

Turns out he had cancer.

Ryder (pictured left) was 22 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage IV testicular cancer. After his diagnosis in fall 2012, he underwent surgery to remove his tumor and followed up with several rounds of chemotherapy. In fall of 2013, his tests indicated that he was cancer free.

Then he was hit by a car.

Yeah. Here he is, this kid who beat testicular cancer, and just as he’s getting better—going back to school, and finding his life again, his car blows a couple flats and he can’t find his phone (lodged under his car seat). He decides to walk home along the freeway and dies, smashed between two cars.

Why am I telling you this incredibly depressing story? Because a lot of people are diagnosed with cancer and feel they have been given a wake up call, “Holy shit! I have cancer. I am going to die!” It doesn’t matter if you have an early stage cancer or late stage, the diagnosis wakes up your sense of mortality.

Well, non-cancer-ridden-friends, I am going to give you the same wake-up call. We’re all going to die. Don’t cry. Seriously. It’s fine. It’s gonna happen. We can’t stop it and no one, whether they are sick or healthy, knows how much time they have.

“What’s next?”

The night my dad died, I was in my boyfriend’s apartment in New York watching

The West Wing. Martin Sheen’s character always reminds me of my dad. For one thing, they both have the same favorite phrase, “What’s next?” My dad was someone who didn’t look backwards, only forwards. He had a lot of plans, even though like all of us he knew that “planning” was really guessing… In fact, he used to say,“If you tell me what you’re doing tomorrow, you’re guessing. You may not be here tomorrow. I may not be here to check.”

My dad was gone very suddenly. On a Wednesday. He had plans for his weekend… Plans for his career. Plans for his relationship with my sister and I. This knowledge that he wasn’t finished when he died has been the hardest thing to deal with since his death.

The greatest comfort to me was that he had more than plans, he had accomplishments. He published five books, had a musical on Broadway, gave motivational speeches and inspired thousands of people. He traveled to all fifty states, Asia and Europe, he was married for almost twenty-five years, and raised two children.

He had plans for the future, but he lived in the now.

So the theme of today’s blog is: LIVE! It’s spring, the weather is getting warmer—get inspired. Do one thing every day that scares you. Start planning today to get the things you want most tomorrow. Because tomorrow you may have cancer or get hit by a bus, or maybe tomorroweverything will go exactly as you planned. But either way, you don’t have forever. You have to live now. Because no one really knows what’s next.

#irony #death #dad #JohnRPowers #life

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