Jeff was over a year cancer-free. The poking and prodding of tests went down to every other month. He didn’t need to see his surgeon regularly anymore. We had gotten used to our new normal. Then, our lives changed again.
Jeff had the opportunity to take a post in Nairobi, Kenya. It would be a great career move for him. He had lived in Nairobi before and was happy to move back. He wanted to do this. So, we talked about it.
I did a lot of research on my end in terms of my career. I would be fine. Nairobi is a tech capital — Silicon Savannah, as it’s known. Between remote work and independent consulting, I would be fine. Plus, there were opportunities to work for firms there. I gave the go-ahead from that standpoint.
We went back and forth on whether or not we really wanted to leave New York, where we had lived for over 20 years and very much our home. We weren’t sure. We kept talking about it. At some point during the conversation, I happened to ask what Jeff’s oncologist had to say.
Jeff hadn’t mentioned it to him. I blew a gasket. I told Jeff that moving was off the table unless he got approval from his oncologist.
Wait a minute…what happened to his body, his choice? This felt different to me. This was a decision that would affect both of us. Yes, of course, such a move would affect us both regardless of health. But, on top of that, if I needed to be a hands-on caregiver again, then this would really affect me. At the time, in New York, I had my support system in place. In a new city, I would have to start over.
Then I started to worry. We were fifteen minutes away from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We had everyone Jeff needed at hand. Did we want to move away from that?
Then again, did we still need to be so close? Was it time to let go of that crutch? Was it time to move on? After a little bit of agonizing, I decided it would be best to let the doctors determine that.
Dr. Feldman, Jeff’s oncologist, gave the go ahead. Jeff had been doing really well and all things looked to less and less chance of recurrence. He recommended that Jeff get his primary cancer care at The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, a world class hospital. Jeff would never stop being a patient at Sloan. He could keep them abreast of everything.
He just needed to continue the regimen of monitoring. It would be less and less frequent, but it would have to continue. It could be managed perfectly well in Nairobi. It was okay to move there.
With that cleared, I started to shift my mindset. Yes, of course, Jeff’s health came first. But, it was time to realize that things were better now. It was okay to move on. Life is meant to be lived.
We moved to Nairobi in August of 2015, right after Jeff hit the two year cancer free mark. Jeff found a great urologist at Agha Khan and he checks in with him regularly. Everything has been good.
We made a trip home to New York in March of this year. Jeff got checked out at Sloan. Everything was still good.
In this past year, other than finding a doctor and the routine tests, cancer has not been top of mind. Instead, we’ve been settling in and exploring Kenya. We’ve hiked along Mount Kenya, gone on game drives, lounged on luxurious beaches, and hiked through gorgeous landscapes. We have indeed moved on and are having some amazing adventures.
We’ll stay vigilant with the observation. But, we can focus more on living.