How I Deal – LIFE AFTER CANCER – Part 1. decide what you want and plan your finances accordingly!

I don’t like the word “remission.”
– especially considering the definition found on Dictionary.com.

CaptureWords like “diminution” and “temporary” don’t sit well, even though as a two-time cancer survivor, I know how absolutely temporary remission can be.  And, just because I don’t like the word, doesn’t make it go away.

It’s psychological warfare.
Do I acknowledge that there is absolutely no cure for cancer? Sure, mine appears to be gone, but I have to remind myself that it is in remission.  My brain keeps saying, “But it was ‘gone’ before and then I was diagnosed again.”  The very nature of remission.

Will my cancer rear its ugly head again? No one can know.  My doctors don’t know, I certainly don’t know.  God probably knows, but He reveals things in His own time.

So, what’s a girl to do?
Accept it! As hard as it is sometimes, I really don’t have another choice.  My unabashed determination and unquenchable sense of adventure drive me forward.

So, I soldier on.
I do the same things other girls do. I go to work.  I fret about my weight.  I spend too much on cosmetics.  I love on my pets as if they were my children.  I yell at other drivers.

I have always had an insatiable sense of adventure and the need to see the world. I want to see and experience everything.  And, I’ve accomplished a lot of that in my 53 years.  But, it’s never enough.  I’d like to be happy and comfortable with what I’ve been able to do.

But, there is always more.
The world is such a vast place with so many intriguing views to take in. From the mountains and canyons and rivers, to the ocean with its beautiful reefs and deep crevices, to manmade wonders, such as the Eiffel Tower and the San Antonio Riverwalk.  There is so much more ethnic and unusual food to try.  So many more animals to pet.  More zip lines, more riding trails, more beautiful malls and museums to check out.  More boats to ride and more planes on which to fly.

I have to be honest – sometimes it feels like absolute desperation.
I think as we get older, everyone feels a sense of urgency every now and then. An impinging notion that we are “x” years old and still haven’t accomplished “y.”  Even before my first diagnosis at 42 years old, I could already feel the beginnings of just such impressions.

After my first round with the disease, it wasn’t much different, although I was in a very different mindset after my first round than I have been after my second round. (Another blog post will come regarding this.)  I was married, and we never had much extra money.  Mainly because of my inability to say “no” to my husband and stepchild.  One wanted a new car every six months, and both wanted the latest new phone and electronic gadget, and every gaming console available, and every cable channel imaginable.  I don’t have to tell anyone how financially irresponsible this is, and I have no excuse for my inability to buckle down, since I was in charge of the finances, and I can do nothing but take full responsibility.

But, I digress.
Now that I am divorced, back in charge of my life completely, and only responsible for my own self, the outlook is splendid. I have money to do the things I want to do.  I have the time to do the things I want to do.

Having cancer definitely heightens your sense of desperation.
No one knows how long they have to live.  And, I am no different.  However, given my cancer history and my family’s cancer history, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel an added sense of urgency to accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

To that end, I have revamped my own person budget. The first thing I did was execute my idea of opening the two additional checking accounts – an idea I had attempted to implement during my marriage to no avail.

How it works:
My original checking account is used to pay rent, utilities, car payments, credit card bills, groceries, and other household and living expenses.

Once all of those things are taken care of, I then allot the remainder of my paychecks to my second and third checking accounts.

For my second checking account, I allot the same amount from each paycheck twice a month to what I call my “Shopping Therapy” card. This account is funded with enough money to assure my daily living expenses, including gas in my car and lunch at work, as well as some “fun” money, which can be spent on anything I want, including my insatiable lust for Kate Spade bags, over the next two weeks.  The key to this strategy is … ONCE IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE.  After that, I’m taking canned tuna or $1 frozen Michelina’s entrees to work with me and tearing myself away from the Michael Kors jewelry case. But, that’s the very purpose of this account.  To keep the first and third accounts in check.

The third account receives all remaining funds from my paycheck AFTER I’ve taken care of living and daily expenses and my fun money. This account can ONLY be used for travel and experiences (or emergencies).  I cannot use it to buy those tweed Coach loafers – even though it seems like at the time it’s a dire emergency!

Being spontaneous I have no willpower otherwise. My daddy spoiled me rotten, and, (with the exception of deference to my husband and step-child during my second marriage), I have always gotten what I wanted.

This wanderlust continues into my middle age and my post-cancer lifestyle.
Fortunately for me, I now have a responsible financial system in place and awesome vacation day benefits from my job to give me the PERMISSION to get out there and involved in whatever my heart desires.

Because I recognize the absolute need to take charge of my life after cancer, taking charge of my finances and creating a budget to ensure that I am allocating my funds to all the things I need and want, is the first way to ensure I am now able to see a future of fun, adventure, travel, and all sorts of experiences that I can take part in.  Screw cancer.  It  may have had me down and out at times, but I’m back up and still alive – nay, LIVING – each and every day!

Yes, the desperation is still there, but I take solace in the fact that I know good things are coming because I have taken the first step in creating for myself the ability to follow my dreams and desires – financial stability.  Even if the experiences have to happen six months at a time.s, in-the-moment type of person, I need this type of checks and balances because

 

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