This blog is dedicated to my friend Elizabeth Torres Hagemann. You are a big part of my strength and courage through this journey. You showed me how to be strong with your own battle, your love for God, your courage to move forward even after the loss of your groom. You showed me God has a plan for us and to just have faith and believe in him. I am so glad to have had you in my life helping me deal with the “New Normal”.
Every now and then, (even though I try to live outside the cancer box) I am reminded about the magnitude of my cancer diagnosis. I mean really reminded. Despite the way breast cancer is too often (ad nauseum) portrayed, I understand the seriousness of this potentially deadly disease all too well. I’ve seen the horror of it up close. I understand what my diagnosis means. I know I will never be in the clear. Not totally. But I go about living my life. I move forward each day. I live my life. I do stuff. I don’t do stuff. I’m changed. I’m not changed. I forget. But I never forget.
I’ve been through a significant amount of ups and downs when it comes to my health caused by the daily meds I have to take. In this environment, one learns to become fluid and quickly adapt. I’ve had the opportunity to revisit and evaluate several facets of my life — priorities, family, careers and other relationships. I am still constantly making those assessments and adjustments.
Just like you, I go about the business of living my life.
And then unexpectedly, it hits me like a ton of bricks.
It’s like cancer doesn’t want me to feel too relaxed for too long.
You might think since I blog about cancer, read numerous (I have no idea how many) cancer blogs, have read cancer books other people write, watch cancer movies and TV shows about cancer and deal with cancer treatment fallout every single day, I wouldn’t be surprised by the weight of this ton of bricks when it unexpectedly hits.
But sometimes I am still surprised by the sheer weight of it all.
I am surprised by the fact that I am still surprised, if this makes sense. And I’m not sure it does.
I’m still “surprised” every time I walk through my cancer center’s doors and sit in an oncologist’s exam room talking about cancer – my cancer. I’m still surprised when I look at my reflection in the mirror. At times, I’m unrecognizable even to myself. I’m still surprised when I pop my little white pill, or as dear hubby calls it, my low-dose chemo (pharmacists says)pill, each evening before bed. I’m still surprised when my toes feel numb and my joints ache so badly I don’t want to step out the door to take the walk I know I must. And on and on…
But there are times when it’s more than a surprise.
Like the time dear hubby and I were joking around about our health issues while contemplating our retirement years. In a cavalier manner I said to him, “Well other than the cancer thing, I’ve always been pretty healthy.”
He didn’t find this statement amusing. At all. And he told me so.
“You will not go before me. I won’t allow it.” He said to me. And he meant it.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
Then there was the time I settled in to watch the PBS Documentary, Cancer: the Emperor of all Maladies. In the opening segment when the announcer referred to cancer as one of mankind’s greatest scourges, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I thought to myself, shit, I have had an up close and personal relationship with the scourge. I am part of the damn scourge. My husband is also part of it. And my mother is part of the scourge.
Recently, during an innocent conversation while my dear hubby and I were on our way for a week at the beach and I asked him, “Do you still worry about me dying on you?”
And he said, “Yes. I do. I could not face life without you. I am not as strong as you are. I have to go first.”
His facial expression and tone of voice said way more than his words.
Once again, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I felt badly to still be the cause of such deep worry, even seventeen (for the first time) / one (this time) year later.
I fully realize my metster friends literally (okay, almost literally), live under the weight of that ton of bricks every single day.
I am “lucky”.
Most days I walk around without allowing the weight of cancer to weigh me down too much.
But I know it will happen again and again and probably when I least expect it.
I will again feel that weight of cancer.
And it will hit me like a ton of bricks. Again.