A road splits into two paths, with one path blocked off and the other going into the mountains.

The Best Laid Plans: Plan B

In a previous article, I wrote about the need to have a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out. Since I wrote that article, two Plan A’s were scrubbed by wildfires in California: camping at Lodgepole and hiking in Sequoia National Forest with my wife, and backpacking in the Eastern Sierra with my three sons.

Undaunted, my wife and I planned a third trip. We would drive to Colorado to visit friends who live about thirty-five miles from Telluride, and then spend three nights at a lodge in Bluff, Utah. Fortunately, this plan worked out.

Much needed time away in nature

In Colorado, we spent four nights staying at our friends’ country cottage on two hundred acres high on Wright’s Mesa. No cell service, no WiFi, no TV, a perfect retreat from the preceding months that seemed to throw one curveball after another at everyone. There alone while our friends were at their home in town, we hiked in the San Juan forest, read, made simple meals and enjoyed the arrival of autumn: aspen trees turning from green to gold; deer grazing in the front yard; birds bathing in, and drinking from, the many basins of water available for wildlife. We didn’t even mind the skunk that showed up one night and made its presence known in a way only skunks can.

While in Bluff, we spent a day hiking at Natural Bridges National Monument and another day bushwhacking down Butler Wash to the banks of the San Juan River where we viewed with wonder a huge panel of ancient native petroglyphs. We also visited the red sandstone monoliths in the Valley of the Gods and the Goosenecks of the San Juan River which has carved a thousand-foot canyon through the desert on its way to joining the Colorado.

Plan C was never an option

Three years ago I visited the same Four Corners region with my oldest son, Devin. We rock climbed, hiked and spent three days rafting the San Juan. I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but I was a couple of months into active surveillance. Looking back on it, I was living in Plan A. Plan B started when my PSA went up, and combined with other factors, I chose to have surgery in April 2018. The surgery was successful. My PSA has been nearly undetectable since the surgery.

But my prostate cancer Plan B also includes two side effects: mild incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Neither is completely life-altering, but they are constants, and for the most part, I keep that reality to myself. It’s not a secret, but I’m the only one who thinks about it and lives with it every day while I go about the business of enjoying my life. Fear has been replaced by doubt: did I make the right decision, did I choose the right treatment, did I have the right surgeon, etc. But Plan C, living indefinitely with cancer, or possibly dying from it, was not an option.

Stay active, positive, and open to alternatives

I like making plans, but it’s been proven over and over again that I’m not in complete control of how those plans will play out: hour to hour, day to day, year to year. The goal for me is to stay positive, stay active and be willing to alter the plan when necessary. Then see what happens next.

As I used to tell my sons, it’s not a real adventure until the plan falls apart.

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