It is one week since I arrived here and guess what? I am still here. A definite feat in itself for me as I was sure I would have been gone by the weekend. As you can see from my last entry - things have been decidedly tricky and challenging for me here. If I am being honest, I have to say that things have got easier for me here and I have managed to take some pretty positive things away from this experience. I will not be sticking it out for the whole time though because I feel this journey is coming to a natural close for me and it is time to go home. A week of rest and reflection has sufficed and I feel that my time will now be best spent home with my family now. As I said earlier things didn´t quite go according to plan and the absence of people in similar situations made it especially hard for me. I am an extrovert who likes to talk and share my feelings and experiences (I think this blog is fairly self explanatory on that front) so being on my own most of the time to process and reflect over recent my life´s events has been difficult. I am proud of the fact that I got to this point and that I did some soul searching along the way. What have I discovered after a week in the mountains away from normal life? Check out my top 10 list.
1) I want to actually set the wheels in motion to turn this blog into a book. Many of you have suggested this and it has always been in the back of my mind. It wont be easy and will require discipline and time but it is a dream I want to realise. You can´t put ure dreams off forever.
2) I am afraid. Time is my most precious commodity and sometimes it holds me prisoner due to my fear over the uncertainty of the future. I can´t realistically be there for every moment and that is okay. It just ends up taking its toll on me physically. But what I can do is be completely present for all those times I am there - no screens, no texts, no distractions.
3) I fear death. Having cancer once made me terrified of death. Having cancer twice has brought me closer to the reality of it. But just because I fear it, it doesnt mean it will happen. No one has actually told me when, where and how I will die so I can´t live like a dead woman walking. A pain in my chest doesnt mean I will collapse and die like my father did. A bad headache doesn´t mean that I have a brain tumour and will have a stroke. Every little pain doesn´t mean cancer.
4) I only have one body and I need to take care of it. I have to start prioristing myself and not trying to do everything. As hard and boring as it can be, rest is the most important thing I can do for myself right now.
5) I can´t put other people on hold especially the ones I love. I have to make time for them and them for me. You can´t always rely on there being a tomorrow.
6) Empathy is so key to people feeling listened to and cared for. It is something everyone should practice.
7) I am no good at being alone. I thought I was but being at home with the usual distractions is not really being alone. But when your strip it all away and put it all behind you - so it is just yourself - that is being alone and it can be terrifying. There is nowhere to hide. On the flipside, I have been able to see what amazing people I have in my life and that because of this I rarely ever have to feel alone. You know who you are - you girls are just amazing and define kindness and generosity and for this I thank you.
8) My biggest fears I have, as a result of my illness, are leaving my daughter with no mother to grow up with, my husband with no wife to remind him how special he is and my mother having to bury her baby. I don´t want this for any of them yet I have absolutely no control over what will happen. I can just hope that neither of them will know grief this like this ever.
9) I use humour and sarcasm to hide my true feelings. It is a deflection technique that allows me to lighten the mood and not really face the tough stuff. It also makes everything easier for those around me to cope with the seriousness of my illness. But it alters reality sometimes and can be tiring to hide behind a mask. Being truthful and honest is okay sometimes and you can cry and scream without judgement.
10) I am afraid of making plans. It took me so long to actually make any plans after I first got sick and there was such a reluctance on my part to commit to anything beyond next month. And when I finally did do it, it blew up in my face. Tickets and trips were cancelled and the fear of the future returned. I am back there now and feel like I can only make plans in small increments. From now til Januay 14th and then what next? I am so afraid of what comes next. I guess it all takes times and every time I make it past one milestone, I will be able to see farther down the road. Look further into the future, my future.
So as you can see it has been far from all bad here and as predicted, I have managed to bring something positive out of a tough experience. I also met some wonderful people whom I will stay in touch with. Life can surprise you sometimes...
Thanks for all the love and support.