Bad Blood Leads to a Good Life
How cancer inspired me to take a chance
Life isn’t perfect since I’ve relocated to Maine. But it’s a hell of a lot better than it was in Yakima Washington. Sorry, but it’s true. There are some big social ills and crime issues out West. And don’t tell me “it’s the same everywhere.” It’s not. Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. It’s about bad blood. I moved to Maine partly because I’ve got bad blood.
About five years ago I was diagnosed with polycythemia vera. You can look it up, but basically it’s a slow-progressing blood disorder where my body makes too many red blood cells. Officially it’s cancer. I’ve got bad blood. Fortunately, my cancer can be kept in check with medication for years.
A Cancer Diagnosis Makes Your Think
When you find out you’ve got blood cancer it makes you think. I don’t want to live my remaining years in a place I hate working at a job that I’m getting burned out on. I could live another 20-30 years, but my overall health might be sketchy along the way. That means I want to make the best of what I have left. So, I took a chance. I moved to Maine.
I’d been looking at possible retirement places for the last five years. Missouri was always high on my list because I lost my first daughter there. She’s buried in Joplin. But then I made a couple trips back to Maine in 2020 and 2022. I lived here as a kid. After coming back as an adult I was struck by the beauty and peacefulness of the region. I added Maine to my possible places to retire.
I’m still working full-time as a college instructor back in Washington. I’m not sure how long that will last. It could end this year, or I might work a couple more. It doesn't really matter one way or the other. I can use the insurance and I’d like to tuck a little more into my retirement fund, but I have options. I can reinvent myself if I must. I’ve already got some adjunct work at the University of New Hampshire and I have several other leads.
Although I’m ready to downshift and move a little slower, there’s another part of me that’s excited and inspired by my new location. There’s so much I’d like to do here, like play live music, write books, maybe even start a business. I’m excited about the possibilities of new communities and friendships. On the other hand, I can also see myself spending more time at home relaxing and slowing down a bit.
In Either Case, It’s a Good Life
I’m not sure what the future will bring, how things will pan out. Does it really matter? I have a small condo here in Maine and I feel more at home than I have in years. Every time I drive through the Maine woods, I feel sheltered. Whenever I have doubts about this relocation I just drive to the ocean. The ocean tells me I’m home. It draws me in. Generations of my family lived here before me. They’ve called me back. I like it here. I feel like it’s going to be a good life.
But life doesn’t go on forever, especially if you have bad blood. That’s why I want to make the best of it while I still can. So far my blood cancer hasn’t caused any major problems. I’m in fair health. That’s why I took this chance, made this move. I want to discover the good life that’s waiting here, right where I am. - dse
If you want to learn more about me, my journey, and my creative works, please visit my site www.danstevenerickson.com. And don’t forget to subscribe here.