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.❤️
Thank you for writing this Reset. I too am a survivor, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Ambush!
I get it, wondering, ” now what?” after tx. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. It took some adjusting, a reset.
I am more grateful, more mindful, still need to reset from time to time.
I’m grateful to you for sharing your experience and your example of choosing to look at all the possibilities and all the ups and downs of life with grace and courage.
Thank you, dear Jill. So kind of you to respond with this.
Seems we had a shared experience. I’m so glad that you continue to do well & remain on a path of health promotion, with all the walking you do! It’s really incredible!
I too need to reset from time to time. This is the funny thing about life- you can learn a lesson but need a refresher from time to time! 🙂 Stay well, Jill 🤗 I love seeing your daily miles logged. It inspires me to do more and now that I know you’ve fought a similar battle, it’ll push me even more! Thank you for the motivation ❤️
Thank you for sharing. Hoping this year you go from surviving to thriving. You have had quite the journey. Thank you for your courage and transparency to share. 💕
Thank you so much, Karyn. Means a lot to me. ❤️ Every event adds something to our lives & while it’s changed my life, I can’t say it’s been all bad. I’m very grateful for it all. Lots of new learnings have happened due to challenges I’ve faced in the last 4 years alone 🙂 here’s hoping you’re right!