When something big is on our mind, it’s almost all we can see.
I’m speaking about those times in our lives where ‘big things’ suddenly announce themselves loudly, take up residence in our daily life and refuse to budge. The kind of ‘big things’ that alter the very essence of every day, becoming a sort of new lens through which we see the world.
Life is full of them. Some, bright, sparkly and full of hope, seem to instantly fill up our days with joy. These are the new beginnings, new opportunities, new adventures: a baby on the way perhaps, a new job, an impending wedding.
Unfortunately, other ‘big things’ of the nasty variety come laden with fear or despair, catch us unawares and pummel our lives to the core, leaving us wondering which way is up. These are the times of loss, of grief, of unimaginable sorrow.
These ‘big things’ seem to take a whole lot more effort to shift, don’t they?
I remember my husband and I getting married, and instantly being practically swollen with love and fun and happiness. We chinked champagne glasses with friends and family long past our honeymoon just to keep hold of the sweetness of it all. There was not a grey cloud in the sky!
I remember being pregnant for the first time, and from the instant I saw those two little blue lines, a surge of hope and happiness completely filled me up. I was brimming with joy (and pregnancy hormones), and suddenly it was as if everyone around me was expecting too! Round bellies popped out everywhere! Up until that point I don’t really recall seeing that many pregnant women about, but my life was suddenly all about babies, and my belly radar was high.
A year later, after miscarrying a pregnancy, the same happened, but with crushing results. I was swimming through my own despair while pregnant bellies seemed to parade themselves around me. It was as if everyone had what I wanted so desperately. I can never know the true anguish of couples riding the devastating waves of long-lasting infertility, but I think I got a glimpse of it in those weeks and months following my own loss.
These days, I find myself living through a new lens.
And just as my belly radar went into hyper-drive all those years ago, so too now, has my cancer radar.
It is everywhere: references in movies, on television, in the news, online, in the books I read, down the street. It’s unrelenting.
Cancer treatment, cancer drugs, primary cancer, secondary cancer, I hope it’s not cancer, have you got cancer?, real cancer, fake cancer, incurable cancer, causes of cancer, cancer statistics, cancer fears…a barrage of incessant, overwhelming thoughts have invaded my life, leaving little time to be the old me.
Even when it’s not there, it’s still there. Even when the world seems bright and shiny, my thoughts turn to cancer.
Cancer. Cancer, Kate. YOU HAVE CANCER.
From the moment I get up, I see it in my reflection. I see it in the way people look at me, the way they talk to me, or even try to help me.
Today, while out shopping, I had someone ask if I’d just done the ‘shave for a cure’, after looking at my headscarf. I wish I had said yes. Oh, how I should have said yes!
“No, I actually have cancer,” I replied.
“What? But you seem so young and healthy and…”
“Yes. It can affect anyone, I guess.”
This well-meaning lady kept me talking for a good 15 minutes, detailing the illnesses of three other people in her life that also have cancer. One of which for whom, she confided, it was not looking good. Yep.
*I interrupt this post with a little community announcement*
To anyone talking to anyone who has Cancer…please suppress the urge to tell us about all the other people you know who have Cancer, ESPECIALLY if said people are DYING or HAVE DIED.
“You should meet her.” She offered.
“Um…” (Should we like, get to together and perhaps compare side-effects, head scarves and chat about our prognoses?)
“Anyway, I’ll pray for you. But you’re a fighter. I can tell”
I should add here, that this lady then offered to drive to Malvern to pick out some party invitations for my daughter. (I was in a shop looking for party invitations at the time). Before I could answer, she grabbed me in a sort of prolonged, slightly uncomfortable, very awkward bear hug, and then got out her phone and asked for my number.
Um…at this point I…er…kind of gave her my number. Call it overwhelmed, call it dazed and confused…call it a little flabbergasted…What could I do?! She was offering to pray for me, and set me up with new cancer friends! This woman is probably pounding the pavements of Malvern in search of princess party invitations as I type.
Aah…Cancer. The disease that just keeps on giving, in a plethora of wacky and wonderful ways.