A Project Manager’s Game Plan for Dealing with Incurable Cancer

Segment Fifty-Nine – Tomorrow

I’ve told the story a thousand times.  Whenever I was a sulking teenager, my mother would take me aside and remind me, Honey, you never know that tomorrow might be the best day of your entire life. I heard it over and over.  And with her gentle nudge, my life has been filled with better days.  But the best day?  You could argue it was the day either of my sons were born.  One in a blizzard; one in a blazing hot May day.  Great days.  In both cases, you see it coming, but aren’t sure quite when.  Another truly great day?  The day I was forced (at verbal gunpoint) to attend a church Labor Day picnic.  The most beautiful girl there (whom I’d never met) would ultimately become my wife of 40+ years.

I could predict the boys were coming.  I never could have imagined that the dreaded picnic would become the nexus for a lifelong relationship. Mom was right.  You never know…

I have also been the focal point for a life full of near misses.  Most people have never endured—

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Spinal meningitis
  • Severe cranial damage with subdural hematoma
  • A head-on collision with a Peterbilt semi
  • Incurable cancer

Any of those could have been the terminus of my life without a lot of warning.  I think Mom’s admonition should be changed slightly to You never know that tomorrow might be the best day or the last day of your entire life.  Why would I add that somewhat morose caveat?  Because it’s true.  And the truth embedded in there is what makes Mom’s statement all the more powerful. 

How Do You Live for Tomorrow?

The best answer to that question is to live for today.  As health issues pervade, I contemplate begging off everything that I could be doing. But instead, I force myself to take on the interactions, the encounters, the work, and the “relaxation” that might (on the off chance) be the opportunity of a lifetime.  Almost all of our best tomorrows involve others. 

Living for today means, well, LIVING.  It means spending your most valuable resource (time) living your legacy (with your friends, children, family, and others).  It means tackling the mundane with the joy of knowing that you know how to tackle it.  It means tackling something new just because the opportunity is in your lap.  It means sending an e-mail to a friend, seeing something you’ve never seen, or handcrafting something that may not be professional grade, but does represent fruit of your labors. 

And If Tomorrow Is the Last Day?

Perhaps my favorite comedic movie is The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy.  (I know, you’ve never heard of it and can’t find it on Netflix.  But it is amazing).  In the movie, a preacher trying to instill some guilt in the Eddie Murphy character uses a tax day analogy.  In a booming, southern preacher voice he says, And when the last trumpet sounds, you WILL be audited.

Since my cancer diagnosis, I think about that line a lot. If I drop over tomorrow, will I look back on my life and consider it well-lived?  I then back off just a bit.  If I drop over tomorrow, will I look back on yesterday and consider it a well-lived day?  My wife, Nancy, is the first to remind me of this.  She’s a seize the day reminder. 

What’s the Outcome?

If you truly appreciate…are genuinely grateful…for each day you are granted, you will fulfill critical obligations to yourself and others.  You’ll do more work well.  You’ll play a round of miniature golf (a getaway activity for the Pritchards). You’ll go to venues with friends and family.  You’ll be a little tired at night and be grateful for the fatigue (and the bed). You’ll close your eyes at night, knowing that you did what you could to make the world (and your world) a better place.

*xxx*xxx*xxx*

Carl Pritchard, PMP, PMI-RMP is grateful he woke up this morning.   He welcomes your e-mails with questions or comments at carl@carlpritchard.com

And get YOUR copy of The Stage Four Cancer Project on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Stage-Four-Project-Managers-Dealing/dp/B0CSV5N8D4

Carl Pritchard, PMP, PMI-RMP is grateful he woke up this morning.   He welcomes your e-mails with questions or comments at carl@carlpritchard.com