The past week and a half I've been in pain - my bones are joints are aching like crazy, and I'm taking more painkillers lately than just after MOAS. Thankfully its transitory; there's something called post-chemo arthritis, and I really hope that's not it. The pain has been waking me up at night though, which means that I rarely get back to sleep in a timely fashion. I think many of us can attest that the early hours of the morning are so eerily quiet it allows the mind to wander to unhappy places.
I was talking to a friend and she commented on my positive attitude. In fact, over the course of the past few months that has been brought up by friends and I smile and thank them. I AM thankful; their care and concern helped us made it through the worst times, helps me make it through the nights when insomnia takes over.
In my case, I need to cling to it. I do. I remember remarking once : "What's the alternative?" because for me, if I go down that road I'm not sure I can climb back up. I need to stay positive, determined to win this. I need to look at the scars that pepper my body as well earned battle scars, have the mindset that the war is not yet over but I have every chance of winning it in the end.
But that's me. That's the way I function. Throughout this journey I have met other people that don't process their cancer journey the same way. There are tears, and depression; there is grieving, and bucket lists. My positivity isn't a badge of honour, simply the way that I handle things. Likewise, there are times ( and I'm sure there will be some too) when I need the opportunity to cry it out, to grieve.
Cancer isn't fair. No part of your life, or your loved ones', remains the same. If G-d willing you survive it you will be forever altered; I have had survivor friends describe it as the 'new normal' because... well, things never go back to the way they were before diagnosis.
We all grieve, whether we admit it or not. There were a couple of times, just before the surgery, when I actually broke down. I was ANGRY, so angry and so upset. I have few regrets in my life, and I have tried to lived it as well as I can. Chris and I always believed in following our hearts and have had plenty of adventures together. Looking back there isn't anything that I need to make -right-... but looking forward? I realized that last year, on my birthday, I was sick. I came down with bronchitis and didn't bother celebrating it because I felt miserable; besides, there would be many others to celebrate, I told my husband and son.
I am 37. In March I came to the realization that there may not be another birthday. I broke down thinking that I would have to explain to my son that parents are mortal. That although I had promised to always watch out after him I might not be able to do so physically. That I would leave my soulmate alone with the task of raising him, of guiding him through puberty, and girlfriends, and broken hearts.
I documented every activity we did together, every moment spent with one another -- just in case. I don't want Aiden to forget my face, or the sound of my voice. I don't want him to forget that we did art together, talked about plans and sea creatures, sung The Rainbow Connection every night before falling asleep.
Just before my surgery I went shopping with my mother and sister in Calgary. I wanted to buy her twins toys, and she kept trying to talk me out of it, bless her. Finally I broke down and started bawling, there in the toy aisle; I told her to just let me buy them something, because I wasn't sure if I would be there for the holidays or their birthdays and I wanted them to have something from their aunt. She got the point, and let me.
"Everything will be okay" is such a wonderful mantra, and I have heard it so often this past year. I need to hear it because it reassures me; I need to say it because then maybe, just maybe, I will believe it too. But there were many times when it was uttered as a shield, either by me or someone close to me. Sometimes its just too hard to deal with the possibility that things may not be okay.
What do we mean by it? Do we mean to say ' I know the cancer will go away completely and never return'? I don't know that. I certainly want that to be the case, but life holds no guarantees. What do I mean by it, when I say it?
I mean that it will make sense, in the end. It means that in the event that the cancer doesn't go away, or returns, I am willing to keep fighting it. It means that if eventually it gets the upper hands and takes me I know that Chris, Aiden, my family and friends... they will all be okay. To me love is like energy that cannot be destroyed, only transformed; in whatever form I am around my loved ones I know that I have given a part of me to them, just as they have given part of themselves. I know that I am at peace which whatever the future holds because I know that past all this I have put enough of -me- in the universe for some of those footprints to survive.
I grieve, but I also hope. :) In December I will have my scan, and after we get the results we will see what steps come next. Regardless, I will be celebrating my 38th birthday with the most enormous cake that I can find.