No Way Back?

“It’s great to see you looking so well. How are you feeling?” they ask.

”Och I’m grand. Getting there,” I reply.

Getting where though?

Back to the old me?

No, I can never be that person again. There is no going back.

I can’t unknow this last nine months and ever think again that I won’t “break”, just like any other human being on this planet. Every molecule of my brain rejects the sense of weakness, of vulnerability, that I feel now, but my body won’t (or can’t) follow.

And so I am adrift, looking back at my life before cancer like some far off shore, forever out of reach.

I can’t see my new direction yet and I’m not even sure I can be assed to look. So I will find some peace in the here and now, like a spectator on my own life.

Perhaps in this space and quiet I can begin to find my new path, my new me.

Who Am I?

I don’t know the answer to this one anymore.

After 50+ years on this planet, and much self-analysis, I thought I had a fair enough idea, but then life threw me a curve ball. I got sick! Breast cancer to be precise.

I went through the treatment, and coped. In fact I coped fairly well, considering; considering it is pretty brutal.

But somewhere in all of this I got lost again, and the guilt of feeling bad after surviving an illness that kills way too many people is desperate.

During treatment I imagined how nothing would ever stand in my way again, nothing would prevent me from achieving great things.

And yet here I sit, accepting my self-imposed limitations on everything.

Misery beckons.

So I talk. And then I talk some more. And in the midst of all this talking I glean snippets of the “how” and the “when” of recovery, and with a lot of effort I am hoping this will lead me back to the “WHO” of who I am.

Surviving is dammed hard.

Who knew?

An Airbrush for Life….

If you could, would you?

“Of course,” some may reply.

Mmmmm, I’m not so sure.

I was applying my make-up this morning, seriously considering that if I have to use many more primers, plumpers or smoother-outers I’m going to have to start the night before, when the thought of a concealer for life came into my head, then, even better, an airbrush.

My mind quickly started rifling through my memories, selecting those for the eraser of all things bad, the sad stuff and the cock-ups.

But none of our actions happen in isolation. If, along with the bad stuff, some of the high points of your life went too, would you still go ahead?

I know I wouldn’t.

My tough times have taught me about personal strength, the power of forgiveness ( of myself and others), the kindness of strangers and that the love of family and friends is the most important thing in my life.

And as for my high points, I wouldn’t swap one of them for all the air-brushing in Hollywood!!

Guilty As Charged…

Of time-wasting on an industrial scale!! I could faff for a living right now, expertly!

I laugh when I think about all those days I was rushing out the door to an appointment or hurrying to finish the washing/ironing before Sunday evening, those days where I promised myself a day of sitting on my bum and reading a great book through from start to finish, or spending an entire day sorting through my clothes, make-up, shoes etc.

Now I have the time…..loads of it, with a limited range of physical jobs I can do, so perfectly suited to my dream days above. So, can I finish a page, be arsed to even open the wardrobe?? Not a mission!!

I can wash two or three cups, swipe at the work tops with some disinfectant, gaze guiltily at the ironing and polish half the coffee table before I think the boredom is going to choke me. Memories of kids on wet, summer afternoons, with their noses pressed against the windows and bedrooms full of toys, moaning loudly, ” I’m bored! There’s nothing to do,” come rushing back and it evokes the same reaction.

“Nothing to do!! Look around you, look at all the things you have to be thankful for! Bored indeed.”

Guilty as charged. 😏

What’s In A Name??

I believe you can find humour in any area or event in life and my cancer journey has    been no exception.

My husband and I were discussing the surgical procedure with the consultant when he mentions that I will have a dye injected prior to surgery that will colour not just my boob area, but the rest of my body as well, blue for an amount of time.

“Ha,” laughed my husband, “Papa Smurf.”

I shot him a look ( one of those husband/wife looks) as the surgeon continued in a sober fashion.

“Well it will have the effect of making your wife look a bit “corpse-like”.”

I looked back to my husband with a new-found respect. I think I’ll take Papa Smurf on this occasion.

“Corpse-like!!!”

So the day of surgery came. We walked on past the newly built, state of the art building where I will go for chemo and radiotherapy. I glance over at the beautiful bronze statue of Florence Nightingale in front of the door and then up at the building’s name.

“Cancer Unit”, writ large!

Not even a “The.”

Had they run out of funds or was the Minister in charge of naming buildings off that day!

I shudder and walk on. A lovely nurse greeted me and cheerily gave me my programme for the morning.

“Now, you will first go to Mamo and then round to Nuclear.”

Nuclear??

Turns out to be Nuclear Medicine. I think the Naming Minister was off that day too.

About 30 seconds after being deposited in the waiting room another lovely nurse comes to collect me. They must have thought I would run away and they mightn’t have been too far off the mark!

“I have to ask you, for legal reasons, are you pregnant?”

I laugh……heartily. “No.”

Lovely Nurse then gowns up and dons a pair of gloves before injecting this obviously hazardous material into my right tit!!

Because of various taping and markers I am not allowed to get “fully” dressed ( no bra) before me and two-hung-low walk back, through the hospital, to my ward.

Cheery Nurse is bustling about the ward when I get back and I ask her if she finds a sudden increase in the patients need of Valium, post Nuclear visit.

Oh, how she laughs!!

 

 

Being Afraid

I am just thinking back to a much earlier blog where I discussed being your own “best friend” because, right now, I would tell my best friend, my loved one, in my situation, “It’s okay to be afraid.”

I am.

I’m not afraid of dying ( I don’t think that’s my path at this time), but of living with the next bit of the journey; chemo……and the rest.

I cry for a bit, feel crap for a bit,  and then remember my amazing family and friends and how much they believe in me and how blessed I am to have them.

I can choose to lie down under this and let it beat me or face it head on, doing the best I can to follow the guidelines and advice and come out the other side, stronger than before; like thousands and thousands of people are doing every day.

So, I have pulled on my big girl pants I’m back in the ring!!

 

 

That Pollyanna “thing” again…..

How many times, especially this last year to eighteen months, with all that is going on in the world, have I bemoaned what has/is to become of mankind?

I have lost count.

Where have all the decent folk gone?

Answer – wait until you need them and they are there.

Don’t give up on the world or the people in it. There is more to be “Glad” about than you may thInk right now.

Life isn’t about stretching from one high point to another, but about finding worth in the twists and turns.

I always appreciated the goodness of the people in my life, but now they are carrying me through what could be termed a low point, sharing their strength, their love and compassion, allowing me to find the worth of where I am now.

Thank you.

And so, It continues………

I am quite good at some things.

If you tell me “X” is going to happen, that it will hurt, but that by time “Y”, I will feel better and that A,B and C benefits will then cut in; then I am good at coping with “X”.

But, in this, I am not unique. In fact, I think most of us are the same.

When we can touch the sides, mentally, with most problems, we can cope with the discomfort of the journey.

I come unstuck when I don’t know where the bottom is or which way is up.

My surgery was over. I have done very well and was feeling positive about prospective dates in my diary.

My phone rings on Friday evening.

The surgeon wants to see me on Monday morning.

For roughly five minutes I panic, really panic.

Then I laugh to myself.

My panic will change nothing for the better. It WILL absolutely have a bad effect on the rest of my weekend. So……I stop.

As simple as!

“Really?” some may ask, doubtfully.

“Yes, really,” I can reply.

This cancer will not rob me of one single second more of my life’s energy than I can possibly help, and I CAN help this.

So I look forward to meeting the lovely “Mr. M” on Monday morning and leave those cards until they are dealt.

I’ll be grand!!

And so, Life turns another page….

“It’s breast cancer Becky.”

I gulped, so did my friend, whilst she held my hand and assured me it would be okay.

The lovely doctor talked on, but I didn’t catch a lot of it. Her tone was gentle and comforting.

“Have you any questions Becky?”

“Yes…..am I going to die?”

“We don’t even talk about that at this stage. Honestly, it will be fine Becky.”

“Do my daughters need to get checked? Can this affect them?”

“No, they are not at any increased risk.”

That was it, I was all out of questions. I picked up all the helpful publications and nodded agreement as to what was going to happen next.

We left and went to replenish our coping mechanisms with tea and cake.

“How come I haven’t lost any weight Stella?” I asked as I snaffled down my hot, buttered scone that could feed three adults.

“I don’t think it always works like that,” she answered sagely. “How do you feel,” she asked.

Five weeks later I still feel the same. Honestly.

Grateful !

Grateful to all those women that went before me, without my luck, and allowed tests to be performed on them , with the hope of helping others like me; to all the millions of people worldwide that have helped fund amazing research into curing this disease and to the doctors, nurses and specialists who dedicate their lives to helping folk like me.

I am so grateful to you all.

There is no “Why Me?”.

Why NOT me?

But I didn’t need this to know I am blessed; blessed with incredible family and friends, who cradle me in their kindness, their love and their humor.

I’ll be grand ! xx

You Never Know

You don’t, ever.

Things and people you thought of as “forever” can disappear in the blink of an eye, often leaving a wake of hurt and devastation, whilst some quiet, unassuming folk can offer a strong, tender pair of arms to help and shelter you just when you need it most.

The older I get the more I seem to hear myself say, “But I don’t understand,” feeling both foolish and childish simultaneously.

Life is just too short, too precious, to spread so much hurt and annoyance.

I don’t understand.

So what do you do? What can I do?

I carry on. I hurt, feel sad, can’t be assed to do stuff, but I keep carrying on. The alternative is grim.

I start, very slowly, with something or someone in my life who warms my heart, and remember why it is good to be alive, even in the crappy times.