Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Long Road Back
This may be a new record - days short of a full month without an entry! I think after my last one which was so massive and epic, I needed time to let it all sink in and process. Hearing that news was such a shock and signalled the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Both my husband and I took some time out to adjust to the news as we had both prepared for such a very different outcome. No one wants to hear bad things but when you think something is going one way, it can rattle you to hear something else. That is one of the many things I have learned from my waltz with cancer - it totally fucks with your head and makes you react the opposite of normal. You can feel slightly lost because suddenly you actually need to get on with your life. No more pauses or stops, I have to pick up the pieces of my life again and start rebuilding the foundation brick by brick.It can be scary too - cancer can also be comforting in a weird way because of the routine nature of it and the lack of expectations. When you have cancer, people expect very little of you and let´s face it - people are extra nice to you and put very few demands on you, and that can be quite nice. Now that everyone knew that I was cancer free did my cancer safety net disappear like all those cancer cells did? I know and all those cancer survivors know that my journey to recovery is still far from over and just because the cancer is gone, the person I was before may never return fully. The treatments I have been through, two rounds so close together, ravages your body and my doctors have said I may never be the same again. We don´t know but I know the limitations my body still has and I worry that others will quickly forget that the healthier and better I look. I hate myself alittle as I read that last sentence back because it sounds so weak and cowardly. Like I am already making excuses and still living through my cancer even though I dont have it anymore. A very dear old friend perhaps put my thoughts to words best when she wrote this to me last month before we even knew everything was okay:
"Know that when that scan comes back clear, only then will you allow yourself to move past the "girl with cancer" phase of your life behind and be who you are now. But you don´t have to entirely leave her behind as she´s made you who you are today...Nor do you have to leave behind all your friends, support team and other methods of support that have gotten you through this phase. As the next phase of life develops, other support systems will come into your life and the cancer ones will fall further and further back into the periphery. You don´t have to automatically be completely without them. Right now you can´t imagine life without them as they have been your life. But just look at how well you´ve adapted to and thrived in all other phases of your life. New phases brought new wonders into your life. The only reason you dont know who you will be when that scan come sback clear is because you haven´t allowed yourself to dream it yet. But know that you will know what to do and who you want to be. You will walk down that road and it will be more than interesting enough to keep us all reading. "
She really captured it all so perfectly and so eloquently. Just some of the many reasons why I love her.
After nearly a month, the dust has settled and I am allowing myself to be more excited about the future. I cannot tell you the joy I took in walking into work and telling everyone (with 100% honesty) that I was cancer free. It felt good and I felt like I could finally allow myself to rebuild that part of my life without worry for the tomorrows. When I told my daughter that mommy was better and that she wouldnt be going to the hospital too often from now on, I felt genuinely relieved. I had bought myself more time - time where I didn´t need to worry about whether I would be here for her. And spending time in Canada with my family was just priceless. The best trip I had perhaps ever had back. It had been years since we had all been together (well before the cancer crap hit) and it was so fitting that the first time we were all reunited, we were also able to celebrate my remission. Many glasses were raised - despite my taking about 2 hours to finish a single glass! Oh how times have changed. :) I could see the relief in my family´s eyes especially my mom´s who I think was so terrified by how ill I was the last time she saw me. Of course she never showed her fear to me but I knew it was there. I am her baby and she is my mother - no mother should see her baby suffer. And my Cancierge - he is happy with the news but also adjusting to a new normal. I think we often forget how affected others are by the cancer experience and he has been my loyal partner in crime through it all though rarely showing his stripes. He never had to tell me because I knew how scared he was of losing me. Thankfully I hope we have many many years left together to make up for the last few years of hell.
I know this is one hurdle overcome in a long, long race and that we are still very far from the finish line. However it is a noted victory that I will never ever forget. Cancer is far too greedy and takes far too many good people so any opportunity to get one over on it, is a victory in my eyes. I just wish so many others had been given the same chance as I am to live again. Cancer is ruthless and wicked. But I wont forget how the odds were stacked against us, the numbers were not good and no one knew how this would play out - yet we still won. I think this just might have restored my faith in things actually working out. It ain´t all bad.