Like so many people, I love fall. The changing of the leaves and the crisp air seem to signify celebration. If I could still do cartwheels, I would say this is a cartwheel season. It just seems like there’s a lightness that comes with the reprieve from heat and humidity. There is a renewal of spirit as the colors present themselves just a little bit differently each day.
I left home this morning, a beautiful crisp morning, for my quick trip to the clinic. It was time to access the port to make sure it stays open. It is a simple routine at this point.
- Port number three is still a part of me.
- Scans are scheduled to be done in a couple of weeks.
- Maybe I will hear that the port can be removed.
These are thoughts running through my mind as I drive the familiar route. I am reminded of many visits when I had superheroes accompanying me. Memories return with each trip. Memories return of tough days and tough cycles that involved difficult countdowns and moment by moment living.
There are new faces each time I go to the clinic. My heart is directed to those in the waiting room and I wonder about their stories. As I walk through the infusion room I breathe slowly and try to note each person. I try to carry a light smile but do not want to make light of their battle. I try to note each person in my heart, as we share an unusual connection. Along with patients, their support givers and the care-providers who are new to me, there are familiar faces. I see smiles, eyes and hearts that took part in my treatment and my healing. They are so important to me. Perhaps it is the relational, mercy driven side of me. that makes them so important. Perhaps it is all of that combined with tough days, tough cycles, difficult countdowns and the moment by moment living that falls under the umbrella of a life changed by cancer.
Today my port was easily accessed. The necessary details of the upcoming scans were discussed. These things didn’t take long as they are strangely routine. Upon exiting through the infusion room, I saw a precious friend. We had connected last year via the awful beast called cancer. About mid- way through my treatment last year, sweet “G” drew my blood and in the course of our conversation during that visit, she shared the wrenching news that her father-in-law was starting his fight against colon cancer.
I’m not sure the direction of my writing today — this is the sorting process — my heart was hit today —so many mixed emotions.
As I walked out of the clinic today I knew it was time to do some sorting. Sorting often involves writing for me. However, first I needed a walk. You see, as “G” asked how I was doing and noted that it was great that I would be entering the holiday season feeling much better this year, I asked how she was and asked about her father-in-law. This man had become my friend. Our homes separated by many miles, in fact many states, did not diminish the connection I felt due to our similar experiences. “G” was always someone I would stop and visit with if our paths crossed at the clinic. She has an infectious and gentle way about her. She always remembers my name and inquires about my life. She has a perspective on my fight that comes from beyond a clinical view. Her father-in-law fought the battle as well.
While I still feel like I’m in the fight, my friend’s fight is over. He passed away recently.
I share that I’m still in the fight, not because there is cancer present in my body. I am still considered cancer free (!!!) but there is still an awareness that I’m living day to day, working toward that five year survivor mark, taking the moments as they come.
I shared my sadness in hearing about the passing of “G’s” father-in-law, my friend I never met. She shared a few changes that have occurred in the lives of her family since his passing. We hugged and she told me “it’s okay.”
I wanted to stay and share with her much longer. I wanted to say that it’s not okay. I wanted to fix what cannot be fixed for that family. I told her I was sorry and that I would continue to pray for them.
Emotions, combined with questions, washed over me and I knew I needed to go for a walk. I have a feeling the questions won’t go away quickly, if ever. I shared some of my questions with my husband a few hours after my walk. I would imagine some of the questions may never be uttered aloud…I cannot say for sure.
There is so much about my story, my life, I don’t understand. Like most people, this can be tough at times. Most of the time, I don’t dwell on the questions. I don’t typically ask”why me” or “why him?” I can truly be content in not knowing those answers.
I’m sure there are many who would reply in kindness and say “God’s not done with you yet” or something along that line. I would ask that you refrain from such comments to this piece of writing as I’m sorting through things. You see, I’m not looking for a celebration of my life, or the survivor-ship status I hold at this moment. I don’t really know what I’m looking for, if anything at all. I’m sorting through the reality that I’m missing a friend I never met. My body feels a loss that strikes me in a distinct way. It reminds me of what I have been through. It reminds me of what my husband and kids have been through.
My reality is that cancer still impacts me every day.
I do not dwell on it (the cancer) and for that I’m thankful, but I did not expect that it would come to mind at different times, in different ways, virtually every day. Of course, I did not expect any of it.
Perhaps I need to write more. My life seems to be an endless effort to sort through thoughts, emotions and experiences. It is not easy for me to turn off the thoughts, and yet I’m thankful for them. It is not easy, yet there is peace…and thankfulness.
As I work through my grief for my friend I never met, I want to remind myself to be purposeful in kindness. I want to listen to other’s stories and recognize their value. I want to work through the painful times with grace and celebrate life. Today I was reminded again of the importance of living moment by moment.