It’s the last post of the year. Of this very difficult year….. I’m kinda feeling the pressure here to write a balanced, thoughtful and heartfelt piece.
I’ve been thinking about it, mostly in the shower. It’s proving tricky…..
I have no idea what to write about. The Earth Mother credentials that I’ve been patiently waiting for have still not materialised. Seriously, how long does a girl have to wait to receive some wisdom from this experience? I mean really!
So, do you know what I keep coming back to?
A year ago my life looked a little different. That’s what I’ve got. A year ago, my life was different. Not hugely profound, I’m afraid.
At the end of 2013, I was truly excited about the year ahead; comfortable (at last!) in my own skin, happy about how I’d conducted myself in trying times and pleased with my reflection. I felt (and please don’t laugh) grown up.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a few Christmas melt downs on the subject. I feel duped, the rug was well and truly pulled from beneath my, for once, firmly placed feet. So there has been a lot of sobbing and cursing and deciding life hasn’t been very fair this year.
A. points out; that no matter how I was feeling or looking a year ago, the truth is, I had cancer and I just didn’t know it yet.
So while, at the end of 2014, everything else maybe up in the air, at least I am cancer free. That is the barebones of it.
I can pat my legs and wiggle my toes (even though I can’t feel four of them) and thank goodness I caught it.
And I think that is where I am at. I am thankful I am cancer free, thankful that I am done with Chemo and Radiotherapy. I am anxious what hormone therapy and gene testing will bring. Anxious that it could all come back.
I hope 2015 is less dramatic. I hope it brings more hair, time to reflect and the wisdom I seek. I hope the same for all of you, unless you are happy with the amount of hair you have.
Perhaps all I learnt from this year, is not to put so much pressure on a clock ticking round.
Robert Frost wrote; how we should always choose the road less travelled, for it will make all the difference. I’m not so sure these days, if we get much say in exactly the path we get to tread. Whether 2015 finds us with solid concrete or shale underfoot; whether the pathway is well maintained and clearly signposted or we find ourselves on a detour of the bumpy variety -
I wish for us all a flash light, a knapsack of tasty supplies, some good hands to hold a long the way (preferably one who has GPS on their phone or a map), and the knowledge that in a year it will all be different.
I guess this popped into my head because of the time of year but you know how in the film Love Actually, Hugh Grant decrees that love actually, is all around?
Well, it seems to me that cancer actually, is all around.
I remember writing ages ago that 1 in 3 people would get cancer but even as I was writing it I wasn’t sure I believed it. I doubt a lot of people reading it believed it either.
When I was newly diagnosed and news spread, my dad reported that a family friend seemed particularly sad and annoyed that I had it too (they had been diagnosed not long before). I didn’t really understand why that might be, I think I do now.
Someone I know and like very much, has cancer. I’m pretty pissed about it. This is the first person I’ve known, since getting cancer, to be diagnosed with it too. I think I’m mostly pissed because I thought if I had to go through it, everyone in my life would somehow be protected. I guess 1 in 3 trumps silly dreams.
You know how Groucho Marx said he wouldn’t want to be part of a club that would have him as a member? Like the motherless ducking club, the C-club is the club you want to be the only member of. But 1 in 3 means I can’t close membership.
Cancer is on the rise, people are getting it younger and younger, no-one seems to know exactly what’s causing it. I could give you a list a mile long of things it might be. Most of them seem to stem from our “developed world” lifestyles. If you’re wondering, you do feel guilty about that.
This time of year; we drink a bit more, we eat a bit more, maybe we smoke a bit more. We are rushing about and perhaps neglecting any niggling health issues. I’m asking you, because I haven’t in a while, to check yourselves over. Go to the doctor if you’re worried and perhaps curb the holiday spirit(s) a little. Remind your friends and loved ones to do the same. I’m asking you to give yourself and those around you, the best chance of being the 2 and not the 1.
I’m asking you to do this because life is not like it is in the comic books. The radiation they are hitting me with at the moment, doesn’t change me into a superhero, turns out it only makes me tired and burnt. I can’t shield people or protect them from cancer. So all I can do is ask, because I know more than 2 other people, and you know more than 2 other people.
While I spent the summer complaining how uncomfortable and resentful I was, going through Chemo in the hotter months. I’m glad I am not just starting to lose my hair now, it sure is chilly on the ol’ noggin these days… Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure, whichever season I started chemo, I’d find reason to grumble about it. Chemo is just a very grumbly time.
So the leaves are falling, the fog is rolling and the temperature is plummeting and a mini renaissance has taken hold of my body. While it may not be as beautiful as the first crocuses of spring, the velvety fuzz covering my head is as welcome a sight. I wake up each day to new growth. It’s a very funny experience growing your hair from scratch, I will it longer as I brush my teeth each morning. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve started to shampoo and condition it, a bit of a conceit as it’s barely an a mm long. I want it to know it’s welcome and greet it with love. I shall never take it for granted again. I sport it as proudly as Rapunzel must have.
I’m finding it oddly ironic however, that in amongst this re-birth of Polly, I’m spending more time than ever at the hospital. Every weekday morning at a stupidly earlier hour, A. and I drag our weary bones to the Radiography / Oncology department where I am stripped, prodded and zapped with lasers. I imagine it is somewhat like an alien abduction feels like, just prior to the anal probe….. Bright lights, cold hands and strange crackling machines. It certainly feels alien at 8am on a weekday morning. Not that it would be ‘par for the course’ on a weekend, you understand.
What with all the stripping and all the strange hands on my breasts. It feels a bit like being newly diagnosed again and as I’m barely polite before 9am, it’s a job in itself not to slap these hands away. Being physically restrained helps, my arms are held in a position above my head by a device, I’m inaccurately going to describe as hand stirrups.
3 pinpoint tattoos are meant to guide the radiographers to the exact areas they need to zap, though I do seem to end up with a lot of red pen on me anyway. 15 minutes later I’m back on the streets, slightly bleary and destined to spend the rest of the day rubbing fridge cold Aloe Vera gel onto my skin in an effort to dissuade laser burn. A. rather evilly finds my cold gel dance unproportionately amusing.
We’re certainly living the dream at the moment.
People have been asking me since I began treatments last week if I’ve noticed the fatigue but I worked a 61 hour week last week. Between that and the early morning appointments, I can’t really tell. Roll on the 23rd of December I say, when I’ll be treatment free. Just in time for Christmas. Which is probably why I’m so ridiculously excited by the holiday season this year. Buying an advent calendar for the first to in years. There just seems so much to celebrate!
So should you see a fuzzy headed women, skipping about town, decking the halls, mulling some wine and indulging in a mince pie or two. Please don’t begrudge her the christmas album she’s playing on repeat. It could be me counting down the days until this disease and it’s treatment are behind me. Spare a thought for A. too who is charged with trying to reign me in!