And you’re saying, what the hell is that? Perfectly good question and, of course, I’ll explain.
At RealTime Cancer’s Retreat Yourself 2005, we had 27 survivors from across Canada here in Newfoundland. On the first night, we were identifying the key issues we faced as young adults dealing with cancer. Travis Gobeil, a survivor buddy from Ontario, coined the terms “disintrajectorization” and “reintrajectorization.”
In case it isn’t readily apparent what they mean, disintrajectorization is all the crap that goes down when your cancer diagnosis arrives. It is the disconnection from the life you had been leading up to that point, which may or may not involve a dissection from all the things, people, and goals that were in your life the minute before cancer arrived officially. On the other end is reintrajectorization, which is the process of reconnecting–or reentering–your old life, or some reasonable and hopefully much more amazing version of it!
A month ago I was in Calgary at RealTime Cancer’s Survivor Conference, with 30 young adult survivors, four or five facilitators, and two of the ladies from our office. We were there to help survivors make a plan to ensure the rest of their life is the best of their life. In a time when so many are chasing a “cure,” I feel that sometimes the challenges of survivorship–the time after treatment–are overlooked.
Cancer doesn’t end when the chemo stops. The whole experience–good, bad, triumphs and challenges–are present long after we leave the cancer clinic. A big part of our mission is to help with that process, to help young adult survivors reintrajectorize.
The Survivor Conference program was based on the concept of a “wheel of life,” which has a variety of pieces such as family/friends, community, physical health, etc. We customized the wheel and made it the “wheel of reintrajectorization” as that was the focus of the Conference. I thought my wheel looked like a pizza, so I customized mine a little further, thus the subject of this message.
Ok, enough background; which you know I like to give!
At the start of the event, we all ranked ourselves in the eight areas of the wheel. We had sessions throughout the weekend focusing on specific areas of the wheel and ultimately started to outline steps–or actions–we could take to help enhance, if not balance, our own wheels.
During this process, and over the course of the weekend, I participated in a variety of discussions relating to balance and the question of whether or not we should balance our wheels, i.e. when we do our rankings, which start with a 0 at the centre of the wheel and a 10 at the perimeter, should our main objective be to have a round wheel?
As much fun as it may be for those of us who love their work, is it healthy to have work rated a 10 at the expense of physical health or family/friends which may then only be a two or three?
On the surface, that seems to be an easy question, but another consideration could be that some of us are ok with some areas ranking lower than others. My point is not about whether we’re ok with that, but rather, is it the “best” path forward? Is it the path that is most sustainable and most likely to lead to a happy and fulfilling life?
To my surprise, by the end of the Survivor Conference, I had worked myself to a place where I strongly felt that the “best” wheels are those that are well-rounded with no major valleys or bumps. In other words, we should all be striving to have a round wheel, or balanced life.
I know my dad has suggested the concept of moderation to me several million times, but I still struggle with it. The continued evolution of my understanding is that as I get older (which is not the same as growing up), I am having many experiences that reinforce this balance concept.
What’s right for you or anyone else? Really, that is a personal choice. The very important part for me is that we make that choice consciously, as opposed to unconsciously. The review of my wheel of reintrajectorization was another reminder for me to review priorities and the choices I’m making and see how smooth my ride is if I keep things the way they are.
My reality is things have to change, and they will.
Live life. Love life.