As a writer, I have been dealing with deadlines most of my life. Some have been arbitrary, some have been self-imposed, others have been more along the line of the do-or-die sort -- finish on time or face the consequences. Early on as a cancer patient, I had to deal with figuring out which deadlines could be negotiated, which ones could be extended, and which ones should be avoided. Because sometimes it isn't worth getting into a deadline situation when there are health issues at stake and a career reputation to uphold. I did not, however, anticipate that the number and frequency of deadlines would increase so much overtime in the face of cancer treatment.

Nearly 4 years and multiple drugs into my treatment, I suddenly realize that I am facing many deadlines each day.

Juggling my clients needs

It's true that I still have to deal with my clients' needs and calendars. Fortunately for me, since I am upfront about my disease and the difficulties of living with stage 4 lung cancer, they are mostly cooperative when it comes to my own needs for more time. Not so fortunately, because I have traditionally worked in a relatively fast-paced media environment, I had to sever relationships with many of my favorite clients from the years prior. You simply cannot put an entire train on hold because one car has loose wheels -- you either fix the wheels or replace the car because that train has to keep moving.

I have always been a pragmatist, and I don't believe in compromising my relationships over a job. Being realistic in my approach to work has been an essential component of me being able to continue doing work that I love. And I'm always grateful for the clients I still have, even if I cannot meet every deadline or take every job.

Other encroaching deadlines

But not every deadline is tied to the work I do. Some of them just come from regular life, like taxes, paying bills, or the other mundane issues with which we all must deal. Then suddenly our doctors are imposing new deadlines. Get this new test done before our next appointment. Set up this scan within this amount of time. Blood draws, doctor's visits, medication schedules, shots from a nurse, every new thing that must be done before the next. Calendars can fill up quickly.

Some of my medications have tried imposing little deadlines of their own. A few have tried throwing very unexpected deadlines my way, usually with regard to getting to the bathroom on time. There are various reasons for this, of course, and they are often not the most pleasant. But they are deadlines with which many of us must contend nonetheless.

Listening to my own deadlines

The latest unfortunate deadline I've been faced with comes from my legs. Sometimes when I stand, they give me a very immediate deadline to get the heck off my feet. Fortunately, like a good editor, they occasionally are open to negotiation. If I make a good case, and I make it quickly enough, they might just extend the amount of time I have to stand.

Editors can be capricious. I suppose it is their prerogative, even if it does not always make sense to those working with them. It is important to trust in them, anyhow. They may not always be right, but it is a good idea to give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing. And that goes, metaphorically, for our internal editors as well.

Grateful for these deadlines

More often than not, I find myself grateful for these little deadlines, if not for their seemingly impulsive and impetuous timelines. I understand that there are reasons things must be done when they must be done. In life, particularly in cancer treatment, that seems to go equally with the big strokes and small strokes alike.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on October 21, 2018, Jeffrey Poehlmann passed away. Jeffrey’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. He will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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