It’s not uncommon for people to ask “where has this year gone?” Here I am writing half-way through the year and asking myself that question. For me, it’s really been a year of coping with breast cancer — the diagnosis, the treatment, the side-effects, the questions, the stress.
After being diagnosed in February this year, I found myself looking down a barrel thinking “how much life do I have?”
It’s very scary.
Now, having gone through 4 out of 6 chemotherapy treatments, I don’t feel quite the same but I still think to myself “where has this year gone?” All I seem to have done is lived with cancer.
While I have tried to busy myself with my paid part-time work, doing things around the house, reading books and articles and learning new things, all these activities are conditional on actually being able to physically do them or think properly. When you have what they term “chemo brain” your mind isn’t capable of being relied on and sadly, you might have to drop something after you have barely started. It’s extremely frustrating. And when I say “drop something”, sometimes that means — “go to sleep” or “just stop and rest”.
A friend wisely advised me early on in this journey — “sleep is your friend”, and that really is the truth. I admit that I love having a “nana nap” in the afternoons, particularly on our winter days, curled up with my new favourite blanket with one of our juvenile cats. It’s the epitome of security and cosiness.
And it isn’t quite over yet because I will be undergoing 3 weeks of radiation treatment four weeks after my last chemo treatment. It seems to all drag on and on and on. And yet, I feel grateful that there will be temporary end to all of this. I feel thankful because I know that in relation to many others, my suffering is miniscule.
In talking to others, I have learnt of many others in our small community who have been touched by cancer in some way or another. It seems endless.
I spent some time talking to a friend who has recently undergone surgery and chemotherapy. She likened our feeling that EVERYONE has cancer to buying a replacement car. When you decide that you want to buy a Subaru, you suddenly notice every Subaru on the road.
It’s the same with cancer. People tell you of the way cancer has affected them (their family, friend, neighbour, themselves).
Let me demonstrate:
A teacher at our small school has a son with terminal cancer in his late 30s, a neighbour has recently found out she has ovarian cancer, a friend had surgery and had chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, another friend from my old Bible Class days has bowel cancer, my cousin’s partner died of it a few months ago (tumours on the brain), so did my best friend’s mother. It’s tiring… it’s tragic… it’s insidious.
And yet, we need to have hope. You can’t live in a state of hopelessness, or depression, or sadness, otherwise you wouldn’t cope at all.
For me, I have learnt to REST in God, allowing him to take away my burdens and my worries, while I just concentrate on the things I can do — like sleep, talk with my family, catch up with work on my good days.
It is extremely difficult for me to REST in God because I am so used to being in control. But this is one situation where I feel that I must, in order to recover. If I were to worry about every single treatment, the pain I feel, the annoying things that happen (like cramp in my feet and toes every night for the past 2 weeks), then I would drive myself insane.
I am learning too though that this doesn’t need to be a temporary state of mind and being. Maybe even post “this ordeal”, I will be able to REST in him more often and thus attain a more peaceful state of being.
Sounds almost meditative I think.
Well… dreams are free.