Living in Cancer Time

When I was pregnant with my babies, it was sort of like the entire world became those nine months.  I thought in terms of weeks and trimesters.  Even the time following their births were ticked by months and well baby visits.

Cancer is the same.  In my case, there was the biopsy/diagnosis, surgery, and chemotherapy, and then there will be radiation and hormonal therapy.  Although I had my last infusion Tuesday, I am far from done.  And that last dose was a doozy.  I feel worse than I’ve felt in weeks.  I think I had it in my head that I would magically feel better with that last Taxol, though my pragmatic side really knew better.  I’m on more pain meds than I have been on since starting chemo.  Ah well.  Nobody said cancer was easy.  Anyway back to my original thought. 

The other day a woman in my treatment group on the YSC board asked if we had life goals.  (Heh.  I actually just typed life goats.  I wonder if they need constant hugging? Um.  I blame the meds.)  I realized that once again, I’m living in short increments.  Five years from now, when I’m finished with Tamoxifen, I’ll be almost 40 years old.  I can’t conceive of that.  Both J and L will be in school.  I’ll probably be teaching again (provided music doesn’t get cut from the schools).  So what are my life goals?  I can’t seem to get out of the cancer shroud.  All I can think of is that I hope to God I’m still living and that it hasn’t come back.  It’s like I’m afraid to ask for more because that’s such a huge thing.  Huge.

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5 Responses to Living in Cancer Time

  1. xin says:

    My mother had breast cancer when I was 11. We don’t talk about the process she went through mostly because it happened when I was quite young (although she does remind me of when to start going for mammograms). In many ways I know she doesn’t want to talk about it also because she knew she had to live , for us and for herself. I suppose in her agenda the cancer wasn’t going to stand in the way of her life and her responsibilities.

    I know it’s never easy and I only hope the best for you.

    Lots of love.

  2. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, it seemed like I could not even meet someone new without introducing the fact that I had cancer.

    A year and a half later, when I thought I was finally done, I realized that I had moved “past” the cancer.

    Yes, I had to go to check-ups, and stuff, but cancer was no longer the primary focus of my identity.

    True, the cancer did return in my case — but I am a statistical anomoly.

    Anyway, my point is that though you seem to be measuring time now, in terms of the cancer, you will move past this point. Just as your measurements of time increased after pregnancy (from weeks, to months, to years…), so will your measurement of time increase after the cancer.

    One morning, you will just wake up and realize you have moved on….

  3. Jill Aldrich says:

    I love that you typed Life Goats. What a perfect cancer metaphor. Cancer gives us these smelly, hungry life goats: fear, doubt, insecurity, anger. But after they linger incessantly in our garden, chewing up all the flowers, new life springs up again. And it’s so incredibly sweet!

  4. imstell says:

    It certainly is all consuming…

  5. bcjenster says:

    The shroud will eventually fall off. Just like Rivka said – someday you will move on. That’s not to say you’ll never give it another thought. On the contrary – I think it’s still part of my daily thought process. But it will be different and not the focus of your life.

    You and Jill and your goats cracked me up!

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