It all started at the dinner table.
There we were, enjoying a surprisingly tranquil break in our Wednesday evening. Dinner was finished, our bellies were brimming and our two boys were sitting quietly, engrossed in some homework.
For anyone who knows our family closely, such serene scenes are few and far between. Boy, are we LOUD! We shout, we yell, we squeal, we stomp! Mornings are a manic flurry of “FIND YOUR SHOES!” and “FORGET THE iPAD, IT’S TIME TO GOOO!” (usually at about three minutes to nine!) Evenings too, are a finely-honed, hectic schedule of drop-offs, pick-ups, after-school activities, and then intense negotiations over computer time, school readers, and “Just-exactly-how-many-more-mouthful-do-I-have-to-eat-mum-until-I-get-dessert?!”
Even as I type this, my boys are in the bath together, giggling maniacally. From my spot on the couch I marvel at how quickly they seem to oscillate between squeals of pure joy one minute, to sudden screams of injustice the next. There are always the token laughs of mock horror too, after particularly large splashing sessions, usually followed with cheeky observances like, “Mum’s not going to be happy about that!” and more peals of laughter.
My last blog post, ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’, was pretty raw. It was difficult to write and took me a long time to post online. But I promised myself at the start of this journey that I was going to be honest about my struggles and share them openly without embarrassment. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but the response from everyone who reads my blog always amazes me.
Honesty breaks down barriers. When one person speaks from the heart, it gives others the opportunity and freedom to do so too, and what a better world it would be if we all dropped our guards once in a while and let our real selves out, insecurities and all. Everyday, there are people amongst us fighting unsaid battles, finding aspects of their lives troubling and feeling like they alone in their suffering.
I have been so touched to receive private messages from some of you who have openly shared your inner struggles. It is such a privilege to be able to support you, and I’m so glad my blog has helped in some little way.
Dear 37 year-old body,
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out and hope you understand.
We’ve been through a lot over the years, you and I. We’ve spent an incredible amount of time in each other’s company and we know each other more intimately than anyone on this planet. You and I have forged secrets I’d never tell another soul, and at this point we should really be planning to grow old and grey together, but…well…lately I’ve had a change of heart.
I want a fresh start.
Let me try to explain.
I miss my eyebrows a lot. Even more than I miss the hair on my head! They managed to hold on throughout my first lot of chemo, but disappeared pretty quickly with the weekly infusions of Taxol I’m having at the moment. From what I can gather talking to other cancer patients, eyebrows take a while to come back after treatment finishes too, so I guess they’ll be MIA for a long while yet. My eyelashes are abandoning ship too, which has left my eyes feeling pretty dry and looking rather raw! It’s certainly a challenge to look at my reflection in the mirror now and feel comfortable in my skin; a true test of my humility, I guess!
A few years ago, probably on the back of a particularly gluttonous festive season and far too much wine, some friends of mine and I started a little running group.
It was pretty laughable at first. (Sorry girls…perhaps I’m speaking for myself here!) We’d meet down at the local park at 7am on a Sunday morning (hello commitment!), lycra’d to the hilt, and pound the pavement huffing and puffing our guts out.
I can’t speak for my friends, but for me, wearing Lycra to actually exercise was quite a new phenomenon! I had been pretty good at wearing it in the guise of exercising (which really just meant I’d found a good way to validate not having a shower before school drop-off). Yep, until running group started, my collection of lycra had only ever served as a lazy alternative to clothes, that had the added effect of making me appear like I was prioritising fitness! Win-win!
You have: Breast Cancer*
Oh, sheez. Tough break…
It’s OK, though lovey! I’ve read all about Breast Cancer*!
Ohmagosh there’s so much stuff on curing Breast Cancer* out there!
It’s been another tough week. I seem to be saying that a lot lately, don’t I?!
SHEEZ universe, give a girl a break!
Just when I feel like things are feeling a bit more settled in my mind and I’m getting a firmer hold on the whole cancer bizzo, something else creeps up and trips me over.
…kicks me when I’m down.
Ever so gradually, as each week passes, I have felt the wheels falling off my resolve a little.
This past week has been particularly tough. After finishing my final dose of AC chemotherapy three weeks ago and starting to feel better, I hit a snag last Wednesday with the sudden onset of vomiting, nausea and fatigue. It completely caught me off-guard and left me with a mouth full of ulcers over Easter. How mean is that, taking away my chance of unfettered chocolate indulgence? Instead I spent the long weekend gargling salt water, unable to eat and feeling really flat.
It takes a lot of energy to stay upbeat and positive in the face of cancer. Even on the days when the sun is shining, my diagnosis hovers like an ever-present black shadow. I can push to look beyond the shade, but the sun on my face is never as bright.
Most of what I write on these pages is born out of a need for me to use writing as a method of catharsis, a way to process the anxieties and fears I have each day, and map the road I’m currently travelling.
Whilst I have always loved to write, when I set out creating my first blog for Cancer Cans, I did so pretty blindly, with no grand goals in mind, just a way to get my feelings out in the best way I knew how. I’ve never been all that great at expressing myself verbally, but give me a pen and paper and it’ll all come out.
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.