How rich and full is my life if I can´t even find time or space to really think and process what I am feeling? I don´t think finding an answer is easy. I actually have been thinking alot about my cancer experience, specifically my treatement, the last few weeks. This time of year always stirs up emotions surrounding my two journeys with cancer. Three years ago, I was recovering from a horrendously painful mastectomy and coming to terms with the approaching start date of chemo. It was alot to process and I remember how innocent I still was at that time...being terrified but having no idea what was in store for me. And then this time last year, my chemo had started this past week. Just thinking about these things has brought on immediate nausea. The hospital room that got so warm when the sun shone through the windows, the clear IV bag that looked like water but was a harbinger of something so toxic and horrid, even a bowl of oatmeal brings on stomach flips because it was something i ate at the time. Thinking of being back in the place brings on such dramatic physical and emotional reactions all of sudden. I never really had that many adversions from my time in treatment despite the warnings of not eating your favorite things or listening to your favorite music during chemo but suddenly it is all coming on very strong. When I listen to Ellie Goulding, it takes me back to those rides up the road to the hospital for treatment or a check up. When I look at the nutri shake drinks in the pharmacy while waiting in line, I am reminded of how I survived off them for weeks a time. So many memories of that time that take me back to a dark place. Maybe I am finally starting to process everything in a different way and instead of simply being in " survival" mode, I am starting to reflect on everything in an effort to move forward beyond it. Because I honestly feel so much less like the "cancer girl" as I move further and further away from that last end date of treatment. I am now working almost 100% in my job and getting good results. I rarely visit the Cancer Centre anymore and I almost never talk about cancer in normal conversation these days. Perhaps that is why I am finding it so much harder to write anything of substance in this cancer blog. I am definitely in a state of transition and experiencing something new. It is a tug of war at times - between my weather worn/exhausted cancer self who still can´t find the energy to do it all and the confident, self assured woman who wants it all. My expectations for myself are still a far way off and in trying to do everything, I often collapse. I still feel like i am making up for lost time and that I need to try and fit everything in that I missed out on. I do find that the one area that is suffering the most right now is my ability to socialise. I just have nothing left to do it these days and sincerely hope everyone understands how hard this balance is to maintain right now and that i will come back to you all soon. Please don´t forget that even though I look great and appear to be doing it all, I am a long way from 100% inside. My clothing hides the morphine patch on my arm that I wear to control the daily pain I feel and the smile hides the sheer exhaustion I am feeling every day. And this anger...I don´t quite know where it is coming from but I feel it alot. I also feel more out of place in many situations and just can´t be " the outgoing and happy" person I used to be. That is something I really notice these days...maybe I am just never going to be the same person I was before after living through these experiences.
So as most of you can see, my life is definitely on its way to normal with a few things left to work out. But just as the medicine I take daily and the scars I see everytime i get out of the shower remind me of the journey I have been on, I get these jolts that take me back to what has become such a normal part of my life that in a way has made me forget it was ever any other way. Just yesterday I was telling someone about our summer plans and then suddenly I realised that my next scan was not that far away. I have worked so hard the last few months to establish this life that was no longer interrupted by cancer and now it is just around the corner again. Having had a taste of "normal", I just don´t want to go back there again and of course I never forget about the what ifs. I taunt myself with the fear of things not going the right way and what if this dark passenger is back. It is just so damn terrifying to fathom after having worked so hard to forget. Because I have no idea and no control over what is happening beneath my skin and it is so hard not to imagine that that pain, that nausea or that loss of appetite is from a monster lurking in the dark corners. I don´t think i would even go to my doctor right now if I felt like something was up because I don´t want to interrupt this happy holiday away from illness. Do I sound crazy or reckless saying that? It is kinda of like wanting to stay at the party even though you know your parents wanted you home 2 hours ago. Instead of checking your phone for some threatening message, you ignore reality and just continue partying! I feel like that. I just want things to keep going the way they are where i can imagine the next promotion at work, where I can think about what kind of woman my daughter will become and where I can dream of a life where I can gracefully age into an old, wrinkly but happy woman with her equally wrinkly husband beside her. Because in all honesty I didn´t allow myself to think about these things this time last year - everything was shrouded in fear and just thinking about these things would make me cry. It is like I have tasted that elixir of life and I don´t want to go back. I know how important every minute and every opportunity is.
Just like the character Emily from Thornton Wilder´s play " Our Town" who says:
"Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover´s Corners...Mama and Papa. Good-by to clock ticking...and Mama´s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you´re too wonderful for anybody to realise you. "
I realise how wonderful life is and I don´t want to lose my firm grip on it. Opening the curtains to see a beautifully clear sunny day; Coming in to kiss my sleeping daughter goodnight and whispering in her ear how much I love her; Thick fluffy pancakes with real syrup; My husband surprising me just because; Surprise parcels in the mail; Hearing from an old friend; Thinking of memories that warm your soul; Knowing you have tomorrow and the next day, and the next. These are just some of things that make me thankful to be here and have a chance at life again. So please Mr Cancer...stay away.