Some mornings I wake up and and ask myself have I really spent this whole year dealing with cancer? Me? After all I’ve been through this year–the waiting, the worry, the uncertainty, finally a proper diagnosis, a lumpectomy and axillary dissection, chemo, radiation, more surgery to remove all the lady parts–it still shocks the hell out of me that I have cancer. Hopefully have cancer has turned into had cancer. As much as I hated, and was completely grossed out by getting a PET scan earlier this year, I am looking forward to another one in April, looking forward to nothing lighting up so that, for this moment, I am cancer free.
My world is different now. There’s no going back. Even if nothing lights up in the PET scan in April, I still have to get through the next two or three years cleanly before I can let down. Foolish me, I thought that when the treatments were finished, it would all be over but that’s not true.
As this shitty year comes to an end, I’ve been trying to figure out if I’ve learned any lessons from having cancer. Now that cancer is part of my lexicon, I see it everywhere. I’ve read all sorts of articles by people who’ve learned all sorts of important things through their experience with cancer. They see things crystal clear now, they’ve gotten rid of their anxieties because they realize how petty they are compared to the Big C, they develop empathy and compassion, they value their loved ones more, they start truly living their lives because coming up against their mortality makes them realize the value of living and time, they stop sleep walking and wake up to themselves, their world and the people around them.
This has not been my experience. I didn’t have all those revelatory moments because I got cancer and was probably a year away from leaving this life if it hadn’t been caught. All those big, important lessons those people learned through their experience with cancer I learned a long time ago through hard work in therapy and an overwhelming desire to truly be who I wanted to be, do what I wanted to do and go where I wanted to go. I didn’t need cancer to wake myself up. I woke myself up a long time ago with the help of wonderful people and my own desire and willingness to dig deep.
Mostly I’ve been annoyed. Cancer is annoying. I’ve been annoyed with it, with the treatments, the side effects of the treatment, the disruption to my life. That’s not to say there haven’t been moments of grace through all of this. There have been incredible moments of grace and kindness and love and laughter, way too many to go into here. Moments I will be forever grateful for. But annoyance is the blanket that has covered and sometimes smothered this year, and I am glad to be throwing off the covers into 2015.
Happy New Year to you and thanks so much for reading. Writing this blog, knowing people are reading, and getting messages from people reading have been one of the many moments of grace this year.
Goodbye, 2014. Hello, gorgeous, 2015.