Thursday, October 6, 2011

2 Years of living, 20 Years of experience

“Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” Ralph Blum
I have found it difficult to find a moment where I could sit down and really put some thought into my blog or even come up with a good idea for one. This tends to happen when my anxiety levels are higher than normal and I could definitely say that they are these days.
Last week was the 2nd anniversary of my move to Norway and being quite a sentimental gal, it of course made me reflect on the past two years and all that has happened and changed. Now it has been far from all bad but I think at times I have crammed probably 15 or 20 years of life experience and perspective into the past 2 years. So what has happened?
I moved to a new country where I didn’t speak the language and now can pretty manage carrying on a conversation in Norwegian which I think it is a big deal. Let me tell you – learning a new language with a slow adult brain can be a challenge. I came knowing very few people and now have a wonderful circle of fabulous people who are there to share a giggle and also to wipe away the tears. I came with a large bump for a belly which shortly turned into the arrival of my beautiful baby girl and truly changed my life forever. I learnt what it really takes to make a relationship work and also how much effort you need to put into it. There are no perfect relationships and recognizing that makes improving oneself and your partnership easier. We took an empty apartment and turned it into a home where we felt safe, warm and loved. And we finally took the steps to making our partnership legal and officially become husband and wife. Being a romantic in a relationship with an atheist/non conformist Scandinavian, I would say this could be my biggest feat!! I always joke that I had to go and get cancer for him to agree to marry me though I of course know that is far from the truth.
So if you read through this last paragraph you can see how rich and full my life has become in the last two years. Lots of big life changing events that have made me a better friend, loving mother, faithful wife and all in all a better person. Obviously I am missing one major event that happened in the last two years but we all know what that is. I have been quite anxious and scared these last few weeks and at times have become truly terrified of what will be when my treatment ends. I have also been reading some blogs from other young mothers with cancer. I know this can be a double edged sword in that it can be comforting to see how others are coping in the same situation but at the same time it can also scare you. It scares me because not all of these people are getting their happy ending and you just don’t want to even think about it because it suddenly makes it more real.
As I get closer to the end of my treatment, I have been thinking about what happens next. When I lose the structure of my cancer routine and join normal life again, how do I ever feel normal again? And how do I get a handle on my deep fear of this beast returning uninvited? I know I don’t want to be always looking over my shoulder wondering if this thing will be lurking in the shadows again because that just isn’t any way to live. But my fear is only natural and after being through this once, the thought of a repeat performance is truly unthinkable. So as I have been battling my demons, I read an entry from this one woman (a young mother) who is battling breast cancer for a fourth time and has metastasis in her lungs, bones, and liver. Even in her position she still manages to keep fighting and also takes stock of how wonderful and enriched her life still is. There is nothing like someone in a worse position then you who has a clearer and more optimistic perspective to make you think about your own situation. I can’t waste time being chained to this dark passenger just waiting to see if and when she makes a move. I have so many wonderful things to do and enjoy now. Cancer has already robbed me of enough time and I don’t want it taking any more. So little by little, I will try and break those stubborn chains and embrace the fact that right now I am alive, I am cancer free and I am strong. Live in the moment as they say and watch the past float down that river of life.
So what a wild ride I have had in the past two years – mostly good with a little mix of the bad. Yet it was this mixing that allowed me to become this new and brighter person who knows that life is precious, fragile and never to be taken for granted.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Kate,

    What a well-written and heart-felt synopsis of your "2 Years of living, 20 Years of experience". I am glad that you ended your nostalgia with a positive note that your "wild ride" allowed you "to become a new and brighter person who knows that life is precious, fragile and never to be taken for granted."

    As you get closer to the end of your treatment, I am sure you have a lot to be thinking about. For sure, you have been trapped in the structure of your cancer routine in the last year but I don't think you are too far away from your normal life. It's natural for you to have "deep fear of this beast returning uninvited". But you are certainly on the right track to know that "it's not good to be always looking over your shoulder wondering if this thing will be lurking in the shadows again because that just isn’t any way to live". No matter how unthinkable it could be, I would say, HAVE NO FEAR!!! We have survived it once, we can survive the next, if it does come back. Trust in your courage and loaded experiences. Trust in the daily advanced, improved diagnostic technology, newly discovered medical treatments, and medical teams. They are all our helpers and benefits. With time, I am sure you will get back to your normal routine as before. However, be patient, as things may not be as easy or the way you think or plan it to be. Flexibilty is the key word. Go with the flow in life, it may be better.

    Sad it has been, I have calmly dealt with the passing of my dear mother and her funeral last week. Like you said, life is fragile, but very precious too. Once again, I am treating this as a chance to deepen my feeling and understanding in "nothing should be taken for granted." I value more truly the people and things I have in front of my eyes. I keep reminding myself, grab the chance I have to do good and kindness, as I may not have this chance again.

    To cheer you up Kate, I would like to share this with you: in my late family reunion, we found out that the wife of my nephew has had breast cancer more than 5 years ago too. It has never been revealed to us, only my late brother and sister-in-law knew it. At the time when the cancer striked her, she was 31, young and promising like you. Newly married for 3 months, completed her MBA, and obtained a government job in San Francisco. It took her tons of courage to cope with the fear, treatments, pains and battling with her cancer. But now, she has survived it for 5 years, she has gone back to full time work as a government accountant three years ago, living a happy life with my nephew in San Francisco, and even planning to have their first baby. Truly amazing!

    Well, stay positive Kate, you have been so courageous and done so marvellously well. Just a couple of weeks more and then you can start your life afresh. The "wild ride" will be over, the bright, smiling sun will be welcoming you. Take good care of yourself. I am sure God will take good care of you too. Give your daughter and your husband the loveliest kiss and warmest embrace after your last treatment. You will be happy and healthy again!

    Hugs and Prayers!