Sunday, May 25, 2014

Too Old to Dream

“Never allow reality to get in the way of your dreams.” Mark W. Boyer

I just spent a lovely weekend with a dear friend at a spa by the sea. It was definitely something I rarely do (if ever have done) and was of course not my initiative or idea. My friend surprised me months ago with the weekend and thought some rest and relaxation was just what I needed. She could not have been more right especially after the past two weeks I have had. I have not felt good at all. The levels of exhaustion have been so consistently high that I have repeatedly fallen asleep sitting up on the couch after dinner this week. I have awoke most mornings with awful headaches, nausea and a burning in my tummy. Feeling crappy always makes me nervous. It is never just about feeling off...the cause can always been far more sinister. I actually remember thinking this week that if I just put my head down on my desk for a few moments, I would be okay. It has been hard and I am not one to give in very easily to tiredness but I may have met my match. I have genuinely been afraid that this week, I had crossed that irreversible threshhold where I could not recover from and that I had simply pushed too hard and my body would just say no. However I feel slightly renewed after 2 days of only worrying about myself and floating around in the water. I love the water and can still frolick around like a dolphin, doing headstands and synchro moves. Just the like a kid. I also laughed like i hadn´t in months. I laughed till I cried and it was so therapeutic for me. I don´t think I laugh enough. Not anymore. I need to do it more.

So with all this time and space away from regular life, it cleared my head and I was able to really think again. I was watching a documentary about a young girl who was a world ranked surfer and how she came to be who she was (for those who are interested it was called Zero to 100). In the culminating moment where everything came together, I felt emotional and had to hold back the tears. It really brought me back to my own childhood when I was myself a competitor and all those amazing memories returned. I loved that time - the training, the discipline, the competititon, the inspiration. The feeling of touching the wall first, looking up at the time board and pumping your fist in the air in sheer elation. God that feeling was addictive. I took so many positive things away from that time in my life and account some of the bravery and toughness i put into my cancer treatments from that period. I had been taught how to not be afraid and how to work through the pain -  Two traits that i think can be very relevant and applicable in the world of cancer. But after the movie ended, I also felt sadness and questioned where my life was today. Watching that young girl beginning her journey to greatness with the world at her fingertips...she had so much to accomplish and so much time to do it. Where was I in terms of my path to greatness? I would never be back in the pool at that level nor would I have the chance to go to the Olympics. Furthermore my career is okay but I am far from making a global impact. Let´s just say that I won´t be finding a cure for cancer anytime soon.  My body feels so old and weathered that i worry about what little left it has  to give. How do I make my life count and matter? Or are the golden days done? It made me very sad thinking that maybe the best parts were indeed over and that the dreams I had had as a little person were only going to remain dreams. Is this a pre mid life crisis? Is this a realisation of the simple progression of life? It really made me think about how I live my life today and whether it is something I am proud and happy about? Of course I am not thinking of my family within these contemplations because  they are by far my greatest achievement. But this has more to do with me. I asked my friend "Is this it? Are the best parts done for us?"  She echoed my fears in that we both agreed that the time for dreaming was perhaps over now and reality had set in. As we get older, responsibility and practicality become paramount - there are bills to pay, savings plans to make  -  security trumps possibility and every day becomes the same. So tell me the truth - how many of you still dream big? I remember as a little girl, when I was trying to go to sleep at night I would start my own dream in my head about something I wanted to happen that made me happy. I don´t do that anymore and haven´t for a very long time.

I also started thinking about my daughter in that moment and how her entire life was in front of her. She had the power to do whatever she dreamed and try out what she wanted. In a way I envied her and the endless possibilities that lay ahead of her. Everything untouched and untapped. At the same time, I felt so excited for what she would be and whether like me, she would find something she was so passionate about that it made everything else feel irrelevant. The idea of her finding that special something and excelling in it and being able to watch it all unfold for her makes me so excited. And I don´t mean this in the way that I would be living through her so that I could achieve the things I wished that i had but rather being able to witness how fantastic and wonderful her life will be. I had my time and it was simply wonderful. Now it is her turn. Like most parents, I have big dreams for her and I believe in her abilities. She is my daughter so she must be wonderful and talented right? Just thinking about the future, her future makes me happy but also fearful. Suddenly it brings me back to my present reality which still remains so uncertain. How tragic would it be for me to miss out on that moment when she falls in love with something. I want to be there to share in the magic. So support her, love her and be there for those moments, cheering her on in any way I can. The idea of not being there just makes me feel sick. I know I need to think positive and imagine the future the way I want it to be and not give into the fear however it can be hard sometimes when you want to live so very badly. It is hard to avoid the things that threaten that vision from coming to fruition. Maybe I feel that time is going too quickly and that the next scan is coming up again too fast. The fear is returning and the monsters are creeping up out of their lairs. As my friend said today "It is really about being in between life and death and not knowing which way it will go." It is not so often that one is faced with such extremes in one moment where you are prepared for it. Often it comes as a surprise whereas here, I will walk in there and know that things will be one way or the other. It is so finite and so unbelievably terrifying. I tell myself everything will be okay and even feel silly allowing myself to imagine the worst let alone sharing it with all of you. I worry some of you think I am catastrophising and allowing myself to give into the fear. I mean no one has told me I have terminal cancer so why worry about it right now?  Shouldnt i only be thinking positive so that things will indeed go that way? Unfortunately the reality of these intense experiences are anything but simple. It is like being on this boundary between one world and the other without knowing which side you will fall. The lack of control and power over it all is excruciating. It always comes back to the same things. I don´t want anyone to watch me wither away into nothing. I don´t want to die in horrific pain. I don´t want to look in the mirror and not recognise the reflection. I don´t want the people I love to have to say goodbye. To this day, I can´t not cry when I think of getting to a point where i would have to say goodbye to my monkey. The thought is just rips my heart right out of my chest.  I don´t want to have to forfeit my future. I have worked so hard the last few months moving forward and farther away from this nightmare and it has worked. I am not consumed anymore.  I allow myself to think about tomorrow and be able to continue on with a life that isn´t saturated by cancer. So the thought of going back to that awful place is just so horrific and nauseating. It is settled then...nothing will change. The only place I am going is forward to try and figure out some dreams for tomorrow. I am far too young to stop dreaming.


  1. my dear Kate,

    I am so glad you were able to write this post, to release angst and uncertainty, fears and worries, and wondering and most of all the excruciating position of "waiting" and the terror it imposes. now you are not alone, though you may feel terribly alone. but all who read this will not only recognize what being terrified and feeling alone is like, they all will, in their own way, assure you are not alone. even if it is through the ether - compassion, love, understanding and any kind of juju sent with the highest intention of offering comfort and a respite from despair will arrive right to your heart.

    I love the very last line of this entry, "I am far too young to stop dreaming". so tonight, close your eyes and just dream, sweet Kate, lovely, flowing, colorful, and dreamy dreams. and please know I am thinking of you, holding big, BIG hope all will be well, and sending lots of gentle, warm hugs - I hope you can feel them.

    much love,

    Karen xoxoxo

  2. Oh, OBB! You are not catastrophizing. You are dealing with the reality of having had cancer. The fear is always there. People who haven't had cancer may not fully be able to comprehend this. It doesn't matter. All that matters is how you feel, and I get it, as do so very, very many of us. I thought your friend summed it up very succinctly: "It is really about being in between life and death and not knowing which way it will go." I too struggle with goal-setting post-cancer. My dreams have changed. I think differently now. And it's sad. But it's also freeing, b/c I don't take time for granted in the same way as I used to. Time is precious. And it goes fast. That's a hard lesson for all of us to learn.

    I too applaud you for writing this post… it's important to be honest about feelings, especially when they aren't all roses and sunbeams. Life is messy, it has highs and lows, and it's not black and white. It's full of gray. Keep writing about the gray areas, OBB! I will too. Hugs to your little one! xoxo