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Adjusting to Your New Cancer Timeline

Let’s kick it back to the college days and talk about some accounting 101. I’m not saying I’m an accounting expert, but I am marrying a CPA, so I know a thing or two about how to make sure my debits equal my credits, if you will. “Mitch, what the hell are you talking about? Why are you talking about accounting on your cancer blog?” I’ll tell ya why! A little thing called “going concern.”

What is going concern, you may ask? It’s the assumption that a company will continue to operate forever. So when you’re doing a company’s finances, you assume that the company will continue to operate indefinitely and will never go under. Pretty simple concept, I’d say. I don’t really know how it applies to accounting, and to be honest I don’t really care. If you do, then get off my site and go read a textbook you nerd. This isn’t a damn library.

Going concern is an interesting concept to me, because it has everything to do with the planning horizon. And when you have cancer, your planning horizon gets thrown out of whack in a big way. Most 20-somethings have a planning horizon similar to that of accounting. They think they’ll never die and they have all the time in the world to figure their shit out so there’s no rush. To be honest, that’s kinda true for most 20-somethings. I mean, unless you get cancer or a bus hits you or something, then you theoretically have like 80 years to live which is 4x what you’ve already lived which seems like forever. However, when you have cancer you suddenly have to start considering the possibility of not living forever. Going concern goes out the window. You can’t just sit around smoking pot and jiggling your nuts forever because now you have a finite amount of time to achieve what you want to achieve before you die. I mean, you could do that, but then all you would have to show for your existence on Earth is some pot ashes and a couple of crusty tissues.

So let’s say you want to leave a legacy. Let’s say you do have dreams and aspirations and a desire for more than what you’re given. What then? Let me introduce you to my friend: the one-step-at-a-time method. Patent pending. Here’s how it works: you want to be a dad one day, but you’re single and lonely and your mommy is the only person who loves you. Sad! So what do you do? You’re at the very least one night of passion and 9 months away from achieving your goal of being a dad, so you need to set smaller goals. I mean, who knows if you’ll even be alive still in 9 months. But you probably will be alive still tomorrow, so set a goal to hit the town and find yourself a nice lady. Then, set the goal to ask to be her boyfriend. Then set the goal to move in. Then get engaged. Then get married. Then get that lady pregnant and BAM! You’ve achieved your goal of being a dad. But take it in small steps, because you never know what’s gonna happen. I mean, getting that girl pregnant probably took like 3 years, so what if you die before then? Well, you may not be a dad, but you got as far as to have a girlfriend you love and who loves you and that’s nothing to shake a stick at.

The point I’m making here is if you take small steps and set short-term goals, you’ll find you achieve a lot more than you would if you try to cross off your entire bucket list all at once. It’s a lot less nerve-wracking, too. Now, if you’re bucket list is more along the lines of “take a shit in the ocean” or “visit the Grand Canyon” then just go do those things, no need to work your way up to it by first shitting in a lake or visiting a just-ok canyon. But take the big things one step at a time and you’ll be amazed what you might achieve. And even if you fall short and your time runs out, wouldn’t you rather have written 1/10th of a novel rather than nothing at all?

I think another important thing to discuss is making plans. When I was first diagnosed as terminal, I wouldn’t make plans more than a week in advance just in case I didn’t make it. Like, why rsvp yes to a wedding happening in a year if I might die in a week? Well, here’s a better question: what if you don’t die in a week? What if, like me, you outlive your terminal illness death date by a couple years? Wouldn’t you wish you had rsvp’ed yes then? Why limit yourself to just what’s realistic? Why not plan for the extraordinary and be pleasantly surprised if you achieve it? I mean, what do you have to lose? It’s not like the wedding couple is gonna be like “that asshole Mitch rsvp’ed yes and then went and died. So selfish.” And even if they do feel that way, who cares? I’m dead. They can go sit on a traffic cone for all I care.

In the end, everyone has to do whatever they’re comfortable with. If you don’t feel right striving to accomplish your dreams early or making vacation plans a year out, then don’t do it. But I wish that I had believed in myself a little more when I was living day-to-day. I wish I had made plans and reached for the stars and all that sappy shit. Just don’t sell yourself short by trying to do the smart thing when you can achieve so much more by doing the brave thing. I’m not saying if you get cancer, just ignore it and do what you would have before. I’m saying if you get cancer, don’t be afraid to keep living.

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