Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Box of Dreams

"The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realise that the situation is over, you cannot move forward." Steve Maraboli

There is a box up in our attic that has stood on its own off in a corner surrounded by other discarded, unused items...waiting. From the outside looking in, most people wouldn't realize what the contents mean to Its owner unless that owner was me. I started putting things into this box shortly after the start of my first remission. I allowed myself to put some of my dreams away during a time of uncertainty and painfully discarded almost everything else in an effort to rip the band aid off and try to get on with it. Life as I knew it would never ever be the same again. But because of who I am and because of how I always believe in hope, I hung on and believed that maybe, just maybe I would take this box back out of its dark dust bunny existence again.

My meeting with my doctor a few weeks ago obviously reaped amazing results and it allowed us to cross another big tick off our cancer check list. Remission - check check. But something else happened that seemed to be dismissed into the background seeing as how huge the good news was. This was also the day that my dreams were crushed into hundreds of tiny jagged pieces...quietly silenced by the big C. I think my doctor had just been playing along with me and my delusions the last few years as he deep down knew that many of my what if conversations were not at all relevant if I didnt actually survive. Survival was paramount and everything else just "stuff." But this time was different, he gave me straight answers to the things I had wondered about since I first got sick. Before it was all vagueness and skirting around the big issues but now it was time to face the music. I guess I should look at this as a good sign because real answers maybe mean that he actually believes that I will beat this thing now so I could handle the truth. No more pretending to the cancer patient about the big unknowns.

I have always been very open in my blog about the situation with my faulty genes. If not open about pretty much everything.  Not only did I get the lucky boob lottery but I also had ticking time bombs in the form of my ovaries joining in the battle. My body literally wants to attack me and the only thing I can do is cut parts of it out. Barbaric yes? Other options? None. If you are fortunate to find this kind of info out before hand, you are given a chance to plan ahead and make choices without cancer already invading your body. Definitely not easy decisions but everyone wants to be able to do something first because losing all the power and control. Like having all your children first and removing your bits last. Avoiding cancer completely. I wish I had had the chance to do all of these things instead of playing the catch up again. If only I had a time machine...

So the situation is as follows:

The clock is up suddenly as things have changed for me and I need to get my ovaries out after my next birthday. Happy fucking 35th birthday to me! A hysterectomy and instant menopause sounds frickin' fantastic to me! I think in some ways this is scarier because unlike removing your breasts, things actually happen to you that you feel that are really really shitty. How can I possibly be ready to be a woman in her mid 30s with no breasts, no ovaries and no sense of myself as a woman? It just isnt fair and it never feels like any of this ever ends. I keep giving things up and getting so little back in return. It is like there is a proverbial dark monster waiting around every corner after having already beaten the last one to a pulp. It is exhausting to have to constantly face the unknown and lose bits of yourself both physically and emotionally along the way. I am tired of being brave and cracking a joke to make it all seem okay. It just isn't okay.

The second part of the story goes back to my box that I mentioned farther up. That box contained the most special items that I have kept from my daughter's first breath until today. My dream box where I put all my hopes into that one day when I just might take these things out again for another baby. What could it have been? Another girl or a boy? I will never ever know and it makes my heart ache with heaviness and loss. I had been getting more used to the idea of it just being the three of us again but suddenly having the power of choice being taken away from me brings the hurt all back again. This is it for me and god does it hurt like hell. I find it unbelievably unfair that my husband and I aren't going to bring any other beautiful children into the world seeing as how much we adore kids - not to mention what amazing parents we are. But life rarely makes sense and is often unfair so feeling that way is pointless. When I think back to my younger years, I always imagined there being two. I thought it was the best combination and it gave me comfort knowing that one would never be on its own. Growing up in a family of three, I know how comforting it is to have your siblings to lean on and support you. Like when my father died tragically - we stuck together and pulled each other through it. Or (on a much more superficial note) when my sister lent me her bodysuit to wear to the school dance to impress said boy of the month. Who will pull her through the hard times or teach her how to replace the vodka in the liquor cabinet with water? You just dont want to imagine your child shouldering the burden of everything themselves but this is the reality we are living now. I will just have to work extra hard to give her the most loving life she will know and prepare her for life as much as I can.

I also need to stop allowing myself to feel so out of place and awkward when people talk about their lives that are full of extra children, new pregnancies and their own perfect blissful chaos. I feel instantly like an outsider who has nothing to share or say. I dont know what it feels like to look after siblings or how to get three kids out the door at breakfast time and I never will.  I rarely felt out of place before all of this cancer business but now when others discuss the challenges of juggling all their kids and how hard it all is, I secretly want to scream out loud and say how lucky they all are. I will never know what that feels like and I hate the reasons for it. And for those of you reading this who are my friends and have lots of kids, I don't want you to feel guilty reading this and please dont shield me from your lives or filter what you say to me because you want to protect me or think it will make me mad. One thing I never have wanted was for others to modify their behaviour or feel they cant be honest about their own lives with me but just by reading this it might help you understand how I feel and how difficult this is for me. And promise me one thing - please don't tell me about how others struggle with fertility or how others never even get to have one so I need to be thankful for the one I have. One thing I am is thankful for every single gift I have been granted in this life and my daughter is by far the greatest gift. I cherish every single moment I get with her almost to the point of obsession. And I am also fully aware of the pain of others but my situation and circumstances are so very different, most importantly because they are my own experiences, my own sufferings. No one likes comparisons and they only seem to inadvertently minimize someone's pain and circumstance. We all carry around our own pain and heartache so I am just giving you a window into mine.

My husband always tells me that I baby our daughter too much, especially during the last few months. I carry her around when I can and take every cuddle I can get. He reminds me that she will be five soon and no longer a baby. But the truth is, she will always be my baby and I selfishly dont want her to grow up because this is the only chance I am going to get. I cling to the tender moments when I am still the center of her world - a princess in her fairytale world. But soon she will be too big for me to lift - a fact she reminds me will reduce me to tears when it happens. I struggle with this knowledge that all too soon this will all be over and these moments will be just memories like those clothes and toys sitting in that lonely box. That is why I hang on for dear life...squeezing every last drop out of everything.

The reality is that I should have never been born with the wonky mutation that taught my cells to produce Death Star tumours. I should have never gotten cancer once...or twice. I should never have had to remove both my breasts and have to now remove my ovaries. I should never have had to have a doctor tell me that I cant have any more children ever again because it could kill me. I should never have had any of this. But unfortunately there are no magic Harry Potter wands that can make it all better again so all we have is time, grief and the hope that things will be better again. So that box will stay up in that dark corner, suspended in time - its contents made up of what could have been. Memories now and forever wrapped in the most amazing blanket of love.



  1. I am in tears. I'm not in your situation but I do only have one - older parent - and yes I baby just as long as he will tolerate me! You are still so young - are there any other options you might consider surrogacy or adoption perhaps ? It sounds like you still have a lot of love to give...

  2. dear Kate,

    I am so sorry for what you are going through, mourning the loss of the chance to bring another baby into the world, the shattered dreams that are so overwhelming, and having to face another surgery that is so life-altering in it's outcome. my heart aches for you for what might have been please know I am holding you close to my heart...

    with much love,

    Karen xoxo