First, apologizes for not writing more often. It’s been a busy month – my brother and his fiancé came to visit, I was sick, I moved house, and I’ve been working on some proposals/ideas for the future. I’ve been too tired to write, yet several posts have been mulling around in my mind. In particular, I had intended to write this post before my last treatment – the half way point – yet it didn’t happen, so now seems as good a time as any to release it (although the blog title “half-way there, yet half-way to where?” would have been much better!).
Being diagnosed with a cancer that doesn’t go away with treatment and/or surgery is an interesting phenomenon to wrap one’s head around. There is often this tendency to think that once treatment is over, so too is the cancer, yet this isn’t the case for me (although I am still holding some hope for spontaneous remission). Instead, cancer will likely be a chronic condition for me (much like living with diabetes, which in many ways is a blessing – I’m not likely going to die from this), and I will undergo chemotherapy several more times throughout this lifetime.
Despite this reality of mine, I often find myself trying to fit my experience with cancer into the standard frame (I’m trying to put a square peg in a round hole). In conversations I frequently refer to the number of rounds I have remaining (currently I have two more to go), and this tends to bring a level of ease to the conversation and the uncomfortability of cancer. Yet, while I feel comfortable talking and conversing in this way, there is also a little voice in my head that adds the words “this time” (e.g. you have two more rounds…this time). I sometimes wonder who I’m saying it for – is it for me, others, or both?
Please don’t get me wrong, I feel incredibly blessed to have only two rounds left, and I am certainly looking forward to having some semblance of normal (e.g. returning to work, travelling, dating etc.). Yet, part of me also worries and wonders what my new normal will look like or “be” like. I wonder when the next flare up will be – is it months, years, or decades from now? – and how it will affect my hopes and dreams for the future. I also find myself asking questions like: Can I fully commit to employment given the unknowns? Is it ethically sound to want to raise a child knowing there will be times when I can’t be fully available? How will cancer affect my ability to be in partnership? In such moments I come face-to-face with my reality: my journey with cancer isn’t over. I gently remind myself that this isn’t bad or good: it simply is, and I try to remember to take a deep breath and let go of the worry and unknown.
And so, as I prepare for my 5th round of treatment on Tuesday and Wednesday (after which I’ll have one more round), I feel grateful to be one step closer to the end of this chapter. I also acknowledge that my journey with cancer is likely not yet complete, and I hold space for the continued unfurling and uncertainty that will most definitely offer new lessons, adventures and insights along the way.
Happy Easter everyone!