I’ve only touched the sides of my breast cancer journey and already I’m feeling like it’s a boring book that I have to finish in order to graduate to the next class. Despite being employed to teach and inspire young people, I still have a short attention span and a desire for instant gratification.
Cancer is time specific. A lot of time I’ve noticed is spent waiting. Waiting for results, waiting for tests, waiting till you can have treatment, waiting until you have recovered from one treatment to have the next treatment, waiting to heal from surgery, waiting for side effects to disappear, the list is endless.
Waiting, as I have recently discovered is daunting, boring and a royal pain. I wonder how many minutes, hours and days are completely wasted waiting for time to pass. I’m not waiting on health professionals today, though, today I’m waiting for me.
Today I’m waiting to feel my old normal self. I’m waiting to feel carefree, bogged down only by life’s minor impracticalities or first world problems. I’m waiting to wake up worrying that I’ve not put the bins out, or to wake up hoping that it’s my day off and I don’t have to jump up at silly o clock and get ready for school. I’m waiting to see if I will get mildly irritated that my son will ask me what’s for breakfast this morning despite being more than capable of making his own cereal/ toast/ bacon sandwich.
I’m waiting for the unattainable and I’m waiting in vain and wanting to feel something that is never going to come back and I need to recognise that. It’s like waiting for the last train when you know due to the timetable that it’s not coming. Reflective chick moment.
I will feel those feelings again regarding the work, bins and breakfast but never again in their own exclusivity. After the cancer bombshell, I can only feel these feelings alongside cancer fears. Cancer fear is the monkey on your shoulder that grows in stature depending on your inner feelings. Some days it’s a huge gorilla making you wonder if the ache in your stomach is stomach cancer if the headache you’ve had all morning is a brain tumour or a rash is skin cancer. Or cancer fear can be just the fear of your cancer metastising at a later date or that your cancer has not been fully removed and will come back again. This cancer fear is there EVERY TIME you open your eyes. Sometimes it’s just a little monkey allowing you to immerse yourself as much as possible into the normality of everyday tasks like the school run, shopping and defrosting the freezer.
Today this fear is attempting gorilla status and as I lay on my living room rug wrapped in my son’s arms and hugging him, I wish and hope that we can have many more years of hugs and try hard not to think about my own mortality as I press my cheek against his. I enjoy the feel of his skin against mine and soak up the moment. I know what I’m waiting for, “the old normal” will never come, so instead I make a deal with myself to enjoy the moment and embrace the new normal.
I read somewhere that happiness is allowing yourself to be perfectly OK with ‘what is,’ rather than wishing for and worrying about ‘what is not.’ ‘What is’ is what’s supposed to be, or it would not be. The rest is just you, arguing with life. I think about that for a minute whilst revelling in the warmth of my son’s cheek waiting for him to stir and gently detach my cheek from his.