If I had to think of a metaphor for the way I feel most days, it would be treading water: trying to keep my head above the water line, struggling to keep carrying on as normal, while my legs make frantic circles below, unseen. Most of the time I manage to do this, but the unseen struggle continues. On the outside I can seem strong, upbeat and at times even funny, but inside, I am riding daily waves of turmoil. Still, I am swimming, not sinking.
“You’re so brave,” said my beautiful aunty to me in hospital after my surgery. We both promptly burst into tears.
I don’t feel very brave.
I guess I am brave only because the road I am travelling is tough, and there is no choice but to walk it one step at a time. I don’t feel strong, and yet I continue to confront each new challenge that presents itself.
Mere months ago, the thought of losing both my breasts and facing 15 months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy would have been unthinkable. I would have reacted the same way so many of my friends and family have: with profound doubt that I would ever have the fortitude to negotiate it.
Yet here I am.
I look back on the list of procedures I’ve endured in the past month and it boggles my mind! I hope I can look back on this period of my life with similar amazement down the track.
We are all so much stronger than we realise!
This first chemo week has been another hurdle to tick off. After a rough few days, the fog is finally lifting and I am starting to feel more like myself. I’m making sure I relish board games atop our doona, extra cuddles in bed, tea and toast brought up to me each morning and the chance to have extra couch time and full control of the remote!* There have to be some perks, surely!
The waiting game is on to see how much of my hair will go (usually around day 10) and we are doing our best to keep germs at bay so that my recovery and preparation for round two are glitch-free.
Before I go, I just want to add one more little thing, as I try to find little silver linings in each new challenge:
The beautiful thing about being in the midst of tough times, is bearing witness to the kindness of people and the beauty of community spirit.
I wish I could name every single one of you who has helped us so far. It would be a massive list! Jay and I feel so humbled by the kindness that has been extended to us. It is giving us energy, enabling us to concentrate on being together and focus on our children, while still maintaining a sense of normality – all the important things.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
*I highly recommend not waiting for chemo to do all of the above – slow days are the best days!