Starting My Life Over After My Cancer Diagnosis

I’m not sure if I will be explaining this well or not but I am going to try. Since the time I was diagnosed with cancer, my life has totally changed. Everything I have worked for, invested in, considered part of my normal life is gone except my family of course. 😀  That is why I have titled this post starting my life over after my cancer diagnosis. It seems crazy but it’s like I have a completely new life. Let me see if I can explain. Oh, and just to be clear, I am not writing this to obtain sympathy but just to tell the story and maybe get a little advice. 😀

Here’s What My Life Was Like Before Cancer

Lisa and I were high school sweethearts. Seriously…we never fought then and hardly ever fight now and when we do it’s over quickly. We are quick to apologize to each other and we try not to dig our heels in. Any how, we graduated in 1982, got married in 1987 and have been happily married ever since. Lisa had gotten here degree and became an accountant and I was pretty much a blue collar guy. I worked with my hands. Early in our marriage I started a small landscaping business and Lisa worked in Manhattan.

Of course, life has it’s curve balls and I closed my little business and went to work for a friend as a roofer. 😀 I never had a problem with hard work and it was nice working for a friend. Trust cannot be underrated. We are still good friends. I remember we were riding in his truck and he asked me what I would do if I could do anything in the world. I said that I would go back to school for computers. We literally laughed our heads off. We were covered in tar, sweat and were thirsty because his customer wouldn’t give us water….we weren’t good enough. I’m not kidding. 😀

School was never my thing but a friend invited me to take a course at his church and so I did. The truth is, it terrified me. I always hated school. As it turns out, I got an A and the highest grade in the class. That was my first baby step to going back to school. My confidence was built up enough that I enrolled in a winter class at the local community college. The class was American history. I got an A. 😀

Lisa and I discussed it and I enrolled in a local community college. I selected Computer Science as my major course of study.  Everyone had a computer except me. I remember being so intimidated. Everyone sounded so smart. As it turns out, none of those people made it through. Most of those people dropped out and quit. I did not. I graduated with honors. I worked my way through by tutoring other students in computer programming, then I was hired by the college as a part time tutor by the computer science department and I eventually obtained a position in the math department as a tutor. After obtaining my Associates Degree, I then went on to obtain my B.S. in Computer Science and graduated with honors. I was still working for the college but now as a network engineer. I had taught myself to network. Things were looking up.

From there Lisa and I started building a better life together. We purchased a fixer upper and turned it into a house we loved. I lost my software engineering job because of the dot com bubble but found another. That company had layoffs and the economy was poor and so I went back to school and obtained my MBA. I graduated with honors again but no jobs were to be had so, I purchased the family business. I turned it from a standard business to an internet business. We did well.

Finally, I purchased a second house to rent and earn extra income. When it was vacant then I renovated it. Eventually, I sold it to to pay for my MBA so, I have no student loans.

We started our little family. 😀  Somehow, someway we’ve always landed on our feet. We made it work.

Life After My Cancer Diagnosis

As they say, buckle up buttercup it’s gonna get rough. Buttercup…I love that. 😀  So here goes. The economy is still not doing well but I am still making money with my little business but then Lisa loses her job of 22 years in Manhattan. Yes, now all we have to live on is the income from a small business on Long Island which is the most expensive place to live in the U.S. We went into overdrive and both started looking for jobs.

A miracle happens and I land a job. Thank God. I went down to North Carolina and worked there while Lisa stayed in New York to try to sell the house. I was only there for a short time when I got my cancer diagnosis. I stayed for a while, but eventually, Lisa convinced me to come back to New York. I was already too sick to work but I was neglecting my health trying to make us some money. Lisa had no luck selling our beautiful home. The worst part was the rude people walking through and voicing their opinions about our lovely home. We both started looking for jobs again. I cannot tell you how scary it is to carry a New York mortgage without a penny coming in. Needless to say, our entire savings was erased very quickly. All around our neighborhood houses were being foreclosed on. Oh, and I forgot, COBRA insurance is a joke. Never count on COBRA to get you through. It was very, very expensive but we had no choice.

Months go by and then another miracle happens. Lisa finds a job in, of all places, North Carolina! 😀  Only an hour away from my previous job. The funny thing is, I had put all of the second hand furniture that I had purchased into a self storage facility because it was so cheap and “You never know.”, I thought, “maybe it will come in handy”. Well, we went and got the furniture, closed the self storage account and set up her apartment. 😀

I went back to New York and tried to sell the house.  We eventually sold the house but lost money on it because it took so long to sell. We were able to purchase a new house in North Carolina, thank God. 😀

Starting My Life Over After My Cancer Diagnosis

So, we have no money…..and actually owe money to relatives, moved from a giant house to a tiny house for which we are grateful and my career has completely been brought to a halt. I can no longer work, unfortunately. I have a hard time getting through the day. Lisa, has found a job very similar to her old job.

So, I feel like I am at the top of the roller coaster hill waiting to see how fast we are going to go shooting down. 😀 Lisa feels this way as well. Like we are being set up for something new. She says that she feels that maybe God has set me up to do great new things, and for some reason, I feel that way too. Like all of my skills are going to go into one single effort….or something like that??? Like my life, I should say our lives, before my diagnosis is just the seed for the new one. Does anyone else feel the same way?  I know photography, web development, computer programming, how to make graphics, have run businesses, am artistic, enjoy writing and I am teaching myself film making. I have even taught college courses.

I know what I cannot do. I cannot run businesses any longer or get a traditional job because I am too sick for that and undependable.

I’m ready. Now, what do I do?  😀 I have been kicking around the idea of a cook book, a short film, a book of my photographs with inspirational messages. We have faith and have prayed for God to guide us. 😀  So…..now what?  Ha ha ha!!!!  It’s crazy.

Sitting here looking for opportunities,
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6 Comments

  1. Your positive thinking together as a couple has gotten you through some terrible things. One thing I always say when I’m talking about the two of you is that you’re a couple that is truly stronger as a pair. You find your strength in each other, and that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing to have in your life! I never saw it as clearly as when you were alone in NC and she was in NY. You were lost. I was so glad that she convinced you to go back to NY!

    I admire your faith in God and each other! I have to agree that something else wonderful will come your way. The trick is finding that path! You will though. I believe that. Love you bunches, Bro!

  2. You certainly have had many ups and downs!

    If you know the Java language, you might investigate creating mobile apps. I think it could be done from home and on your schedule (I know we zebras can be unreliable). It could be working for yourself or for someone else.

    May you have the best possible outcome,
    Cy

      • Thanks …. kicking it around in my head. 😀 Maybe I’ll make “Happy Birds” 🙂 instead of “Angry Birds”. After all, who needs birds that are so full of angst 😛

    • I had been thinking about doing that. In fact, Kat and I were discussing it. 😀 It’s just that it’s so much work to do it right and I’m not sure I’m up to is. 😀 Also, my computers are pretty much as old as the hills. None of these are excuses but just part of my reasoning. 😀 Of all possible futures, I think that is the one that is least attractive to me. ha ha ha!!! Spent so much time writing software, debugging blah blah…… Still, you might be right…might be a good move. 🙂 Thanks Cy!!! 😀

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