Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Me and My Shadow

A shadow has passed over me lately, blocking my sun.  That shadow has a name that we all dread to hear--cancer.  This shadow isn't necessarily the shadow of death per se, but the presence of my own mortality coming to the forefront, becoming a real possibility.  Most of us put our own mortality into a deep pocket inside our minds that we sometimes dare to open in rare moments of introspection, but most of the time, to most of us, time is boundless and, sadly, for most of us, true happiness is just out of reach, but always a possibility, to be achieved in the future, sometime.

When we are faced with our own mortality, happiness is something that we need to reach out and grab immediately.  There is no time to wait and hope anymore.  All those trivial things in life fall away.  Even when observing everyone else going about their lives as usual, we stand by in disbelief about the truly petty concerns of others, like those unwanted wrinkles or those last stubborn five pounds.  Within this passing shadow, a strong, clear light begins to shine on our lives-clarifying things, brightening things, exposing the truth behind all the fiction and unimportant concerns.  My shadow has given me a sense of peace, a need for serenity.  I appreciate things so much more now.  I truly cherish my family and friends and love their unwavering presence at this time when I need them the most.  I think twice before getting angry or annoyed now, or sinking into a state of passivity.  The passionate, forward-moving side of me has been activated.  Even writing now seems senseless, but of course only superficially, when there is so much more I could be accomplishing out in the world, people out there who need my help or guidance in some way.  I now want to reach out and touch as many as I can.

I sometimes wonder if my cancer is just a side effect of my passivity-my inability to take action, to pay attention to my own power, my God-given potential and spirit, the power within my own body to be the best that I can be.  To be honest, my own insecurities and anxieties have held me back in a way, so my life at home has become my safe haven away from potential hurt or fear.  But, nice as it is to be at home away from the hustle and bustle of life, it has only given me the opportunity to hide within a shell of my own making.  I've always believed I was merely simplifying life by leaving it to take care of my family, but my family really doesn't need that much care.  My family needs ME--my presence, my energy, my potential, my strength, not my availability.  It is time for me to move forward, get out into the big world, start breathing again.  My cancer has woken me up from my reverie, enabling me to live a life of my dreams.  Anything is possible now.

When I first found out that I have cancer, I thought, "Why me?".  Now I see it as "Why not me?".  I am human after all.  And for someone who has never quite fit in, I now feel more a part of the human experience of striving and rising to our fullest potential.  Life isn't about our own death.  Let's face it.  We don't get to witness the aftermath.  Life is about what we do with our lives while we are here, right up until that last moment when we finally have to leave.


Avid Reader said...

“My cancer has woken me up from my reverie, enabling me to live a life of my dreams…. I now feel more a part of the human experience of striving and rising to our fullest potential.“

What a beautiful thing to discover in the midst of your trial. I hope this thirst to embrace life will remain with you long after the cancer is gone.

TheWingchairTraveller said...

I hope to keep it going, Avid Reader, for as long as I can. Although, I really can't see forgetting about it anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey Suzy,

I came upon your blog within days of being diagnosed with triple negative cancer and it resonated with me enormously. Like you, this was a rare specimen I could have done without! I’m a girlish 51 year old journalist married with two teenage boys. After a number of mammograms, an ultra sound, MRI and three biopsies, an excision biopsy was carried out. I was diagnosed with a 5 mm tumour. A sentinel node biopsy was then performed and thankfully it was negative.

I have just agreed to four rounds of chemo as well as radiation. My oncologist said he wouldn’t normally offer chemo for tumours under 1 cm but triple negative was more worrying and there was growing data to suggest these little tumours responded well to chemotherapy. That said, he couldn’t point definitively to strong, scientific evidence and the overall benefit to reducing the risk of recurrence was put at a couple of percentage points.

I’m reluctantly ‘winging’ my way towards chemo because early detection and a blast of drugs seems the best shot at ‘curing’ this disease. If triple negative came back again in the future I would be talking about controlling rather than eliminating the cancer.

I would love to hear where you are on your journey. Hope you are in the clear so to speak. Did you completely avoid chemotherapy. What was the radiation experience like?

I know your triple negative journey is just one of your many faceted blogs. They’re stylish, creative, funny and well written.!

Susan E. Harris-Gamard said...

Best of wishes to you as you start your chemo. I know many women who have gone through it and say that it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be. I am so far over 2 years out from diagnosis (2 years and 3 months, but not that I am counting). From what I have encountered over the last couple years, 5 mm. is normally the cut off for chemo for the few of us with small triple negative tumors. Honestly, radiation was difficult for me, and I am still feeling the after effects (a stubborn yeast infection on my skin and still a little truncal lymphadema), but quite honestly, so happy to be alive and grateful,oh so grateful. Take care as you start on your own journey. Thank you for commenting and reading my little blog :).