A year ago today, my world turned around forever. I started the day with a bit of tummy pain, expecting a CT scan to confirm possible appendicitis or a small bowel-related issue, and ended the day knowing I had cancer.
I don’t know that I’ll ever forget that afternoon. The doctor’s cheerful whistling as she began scanning the report followed by the silence as she realised what she was about to have to tell me. The dark clouds in the distance over 1930’s rooftops as I sat in the car reading the report the doctor hid away in the envelope with my scans. The weight of my phone as I picked it up to call Naomi and change her world too. Her trying to control her crying as the little dude played in the background while I told her the awful truth.
I had expected to get lost in fear and mourning but it was all a whirlwind really. Emergency appointments every other day, followed by tests and telling different people I had cancer, talking to work. I’d never been busier. That whirlwind led into chemo, which led into surgery, which has been followed by a pretty decent recovery. My scans and blood tests have been fine. My body is holding up, my scar has finally healed and I’m talking about going back to work. If only my mind would catch up.
I feel like I should be feeling better about everything. But the truth is that it’s only now, a year later, that things are finally settling down. That my life and mind are quiet enough to process what life will look like for me now. Everything that distracted me from this is behind me, at least for now, and I don’t like it one little bit.
The ridiculous part is that it’s the every day stuff that has me stuck. I have accepted that I am likely to have a shortened life span; that the cancer will return and I’m likely to go through surgery again. I can handle that because in medicine, there are plans. In life, you make your own. I used to have the comfort of knowing that if I made a wrong choice about my future (my family’s future), there would be time to fix it. That comfort is gone.
It seems unfathomable to me after everything that has happened in the last year to just go back to the way things were. It seems impossible that that is even possible. But taking a leap and having faith in my choices – that is petrifying. Not only because I may not get another chance but because potentially, I leave others to clean up my mess.
Clearly, I’m good at getting lost in my own thoughts. When it comes to helping others map out their lives I am a pro. I’ve got art paper and markers to map out the plan and pom-poms to cheer you as you go. When it comes to doing the same for myself, I weave a web so sticky I’m surprised I got out of my 20’s.
My psychologist has challenged me to make some goals for my life, something I’ve never been good at because most of the time I either fail to reach them or take a decade longer to reach it than planned. But ‘take life by the horns’ rather than ‘letting life happen to you’ and ‘idle hands…’ and whatnot. So I’m going to try. Hopefully once this month of milestones pass it will all be a little clearer.