With a cancer diagnosis, hopes and dreams and goals are temporarily moved to a back burner but do not permanently discarded them. I am not referring to your bucket list of places you want to go to, but things you want to do for God, family and friends.
My personal list consists of growing old. I have pretty much lived in the moment and go where life leads me. But, beyond that, just because I have come to a fork in the road where I have had to deal with the cancer, it doesn’t mean that all dreams are lost forever. In fact, that is the last thing that should happen.
No matter who you are, where you have been or what you may have accomplished in your life, if you don’t have dreams that you want to pursue or new goals to reach, you will have no incentive or reason to get out of bed in the morning. You will view your life as being done and then you will just sit back and watch the world pass you by. Facing a cancer diagnosis without any goals or dreams to reach will leave you without a reason to keep pushing forward.
Ask anyone you know who has had cancer! It may be that their dream is to watch their children (in my case, grandchildren) grow up and go to college and get married and have time to meet the grandchildren. Maybe a career change is what you have wanted to make. Perhaps you have wanted to move to another state or country in order to be closer to family or enjoy their favorite mountains or the ocean on a full-time basis. Or maybe you have wanted to spend your time hitting every karaoke bar within a three-county range so that they could socialize with their friends and sing their hearts out.
No matter what your cancer diagnosis might be and/or what the prognosis is, your dream becomes more important than ever. It takes the focus from the medical and allows you to focus on what you need to tackle first after the current round of chemo/radiation treatment has been completed. It allows for you to think of the things you want to do, take on an action plan to move forward as soon as you don’t have to go to doctor appointments every week or so. And if you don’t know what it is you would like to do when you have some personal time again, you can think about it and really give it the attention that’s needed to find a path to follow that puts a smile on your face just thinking about it.
Whatever it may be, it is never too late. It doesn’t have to become your future career or it doesn’t have to be something that you share with others and it is not a choice that should be made by anyone else. And if you do choose to try something you have always wanted to do and it turns out to be something you find you really don’t want to pursue over a period of time, you can always walk away with the knowledge that you gave it a try and now you no longer have to wonder “what if”.
I guess it comes down to the fact that we all need motivation to take on and move through the big things in life. But, if we are able to focus on dreams and hopes for the future and how we can bring about the results that we want, we might move through our treatment and recovery with greater ease with the knowledge that when we finish, or reach some pre-set point along the way, we will be taking our first steps toward achieving our dreams. I promise you that nothing can compare with the hope for the future and the achievement of something that lives in your heart. It makes all of the difference in the world.
Sometimes, that is what you dream about—not that you will live to sit back comfortably with the knowledge that everyone is grown and fine, but rather that you will live long enough to be able to tell people what you dream of, and that years later when important things happen in their lives, they will remember. And they will be able to say, look mom, everything is going to be fine. Even if you aren’t here.
When you dream, what do you dream about? Daydreams of the future or Sleep Dreams where any thing can happen?
Normally, my answer to this question is almost absurdly uneventful. I dream about things like getting up and eating breakfast in the morning, taking my grandaughters to the beach, or my husband and i on vacation (my husband doesn’t vacation, he is always working). I’ve always figured that I do enough daydreaming during the day that my subconscious feels satisfied by the time my body finally gets past the insomnia and falls asleep for that five hours each night.
But then breast cancer happens, and your dreams change.
Last night I was even able to sleep for a few minutes on my stomach, in spite of how alien these implants feel to me. As usual, I woke up every 90 minutes or so, and at one point I woke up with a start, shocked by what had just happened, wondering whether or not it was real.
I dreamt that I had a son that had impregnated his college girlfriend…I only have daughters!
This dream absolutely could have been a scene from an actual life; there was nothing surreal about it. And in the dream, David (that was his name) was talking to me. It was as if he was sitting in front of a video camera, but the camera was actually me, and I could not see myself. He was around 19 years old. Of course, he didn’t say that to me, because who walks around saying, hey, I’m 19 years old? But I knew that he was that age. He was saying that he was sorry this happened but it was an accident. He paused and said he wasn’t really sorry, because he had loved Emma ever since the seventh grade. And though he did not describe it, suddenly these images flashed in front of the “camera” in my dream, of these two kids going to junior high school together and then going to different high schools and then finally going to their senior prom together and dating after all that time and ending up at the same college. And I said nothing to him, though I was thinking that I wasn’t sorry either.
He said he would figure it out, figure out what to do, and he would get a job and finish school and everything would be fine. And then he walked away, all six feet of him and wild blonde, curly hair.
And I woke up with a start, not sure whether to laugh or cry. I mean, this could absolutely happen if I had a son.
I was not witnessing my children’s futures (no son), but imagining a future of my grandchildren not yet born, the seeds of the future, and a future scene of one of my daughters.
Oh, what a selfish beast love is.
We want so badly to believe that we will take part in some of this, that our lives will intersect with the lives of the people we love so fiercely, that we will be able to bear witness.