It’s time to hit the reset button

Last day of chemo

Last day of chemo


This is my state of mind today; like my brain has been reset. It’s been 9 months since I stopped treatment. I met with my oncologist today and he reassured me that he does not see any signs of a recurrence (despite my own apprehensions).  Strangely, I felt slightly lost. Not jubilant- lost!  I asked him what I should do now. I don’t know what he said to that. Isn’t that odd? Cannot even remember when I close my eyes tight and will my mind to remember.  I did reflect on where I stand and what I’ve been through and I finally knew what I needed to do.

I need to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop and carry on with the rest of my life.  No matter how positive I’ve been all my life, the past several months have knocked the stuffing out of me; Just because I had to face this difficult predicament does not mean that will be my lot forever.

I need to keep in touch with that fact.

Cancer came, it socked me a heavy punch, I’m still recovering from it, but it hasn’t taken me down and I can still carry on. Bruised-yup, battered-yes, throwing in the towel- Not a chance!

Revisiting the past year, I admit it has been the hardest time of my life but cancer was just one part of it.  I lost a friend to breast cancer last year (quite unexpectedly) and that, coupled with the hardest part of my treatments nearly did me in.  Maybe it was her good will and that of everyone who has loved and cared for me so deeply, that I did not turn into a pile of dust along the way.  She has been very close to my thoughts this past year and giving me courage even when I could no longer see her or speak to her. It’s incredible what we can go through and still survive, thrive even.  While I’m not at the ‘thrive’ stage of my journey just yet, I am definitely surviving.

I’ve heard people answer sometimes to a well-meaning, ‘how are you?’, with, ‘oh, I’m surviving’ followed by a chuckle and while there may be some truth to that, that use of the word, ‘surviving’ may be slightly different than the way I use it here.  I mean to say it in a way you might say, ‘I survived a head-on collision’, for that is what the past year was like- a head-on collision; where you are shocked to your core, where fatalities are expected and if you get away with your life, you survived it. You may be badly banged up, barely holding on to life, but you survived it.  It is beyond the daily exhaustions and frustrations of life.  It leaves you breathless, in a desperate state that you need to recover from, and yes, traumatized.  It’s akin to fighting an enemy loaded with guns, grenades etc. I imagine, but the enemy is camouflaged.  You hide in the trenches, firing your own weapons all the time but you’re not sure you’re getting any of them, until…until you go to your follow up visit and the doc tells you to relax, you got this thing beat (at least so far).

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to fear. In fact, the more I read, the more I start to tag my fate to those that won’t survive this thing but I’m asking myself, why? Why do I tag my fate to the statistic that says x percentage will recur? Why don’t I follow along the statistic of those who’ve managed to survive? It’s my choice how I think of my chances.  There is nothing my oncologist could find that makes him think I’m relapsing, so why don’t I hook my boxcar to his engine and believe what he’s saying? It leads me to open pastures of possibility.  A place where I might live out my normal expected life expectancy. No reason I should deny myself that possibility unless I am decidedly fatalistic. I don’t want to be. There are too many possibilities, so I’m going to choose to be pro-life in this instance and believe that I need to live out what life I’ve been given and not worry about if and when that other shoe will drop.  I have a clear choice to make and I pick life! Life, with all its’ ups and downs, rewards and challenges, thrills and valleys.

The news is not always good. I’ve had the privilege to stand by those who have not been as lucky as I now find myself. They’ve surprised me with their attitude, willing to look their mortality in the eye and continue with what courage and grace they can muster towards the end of their life.  In those situations I cried for them, I wished them strength, I wished they’d be able to tie all loose ends and continue to the end of their life with dignity and love to carry them through.  I hope when that time comes for me, as it most certainly will, that I’ll make myself worthy to be counted in that class of souls who continue to live, until there is no longer life left in them.

For now, I am choosing to press the reset button and am keeping my mind on all the life I have yet to live.❤️

A love so pure

I remember those late night feedings when everything else receded into the background except the close presence of my little baby girl and the soft noises she made as she nursed. My sleepiness in those moments was quickly replaced by a feeling of love so deep and pure, nothing could equal its unparalleled joy.  I was lucky enough to experience it a second time when my second daughter was born.

Now, many years later, I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced it yet again. My daughters are almost 16 and 19 now.  Over the years they’ve lovingly created mother’s day cards and gifted me pictures made with dry macaroni and bracelets made of beads. I’ve been frequently overwhelmed with love whenever I’ve received such gifts but nothing could have prepared me for what they did for me just over a year ago when our family faced one of our biggest challenges. My heart swells with love and my eyes brim with tears as I recount it.

In June last year I was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  We didn’t know what to expect then and well, no one really knows what to expect next either but rewind a year and we really felt like we were standing at the foot of a great big forest with only darkness and a chaos of jumbled branches visible through the woods.

We chose to be honest and transparent with our daughters, who, wise beyond their years were so in need for us to treat them as adults.  I shared with the girls that I was going to need a bone marrow biopsy. They were horrified when I explained to them what that entailed even though I tried not to scare them too much with details.  It was definitely not a pleasant experience but not as bad as I expected either. Let’s just say I’d maybe rather have a tooth extraction? I’ve had to have 2 bone marrow biopsies now and I’ve lived through them…it’s really not as bad as I had conjured it to be in my mind.  The unknown is definitely scarier than the reality in this case. Well I was a little worse for wear when I got home after the first bone marrow biopsy that day. When I went up to my room for the night, a beautiful array of goodies awaited me!

5AB8104D-4419-4B21-8A27-5E9E65E677E8I was thoroughly surprised at this display, of which I had had no prior inkling and nestled in my surprise gifts were what can only be described as two of the most tear jerking notes I have ever read in my entire life!!

Sure my hip still hurt but the love and loving words in those notes dulled the pain and made it bearable.  My self-pity switched tracks and started moving down the path of gratefulness.  In that moment I cried tears of joy, borne out of love, overwhelmed to see such empathy and compassion in my own children…experiencing their love in a whole new way.  I whispered many blessings for them and prayed with all my might that sorrow never darkens their doorstep. It was the first time during this journey that I was grateful; had I not been faced with such a difficult time, I would not have experienced such emotions; joy so deep that it floors you, then takes you to such heights that you feel one with the universe; love so pure that it puts a sparkle on everything you behold and gives a silver lining to every cloud.

A life resplendent with such love can only be a blessing. I’m so  grateful for mine. ❤️