Today is my one-year anniversary of being back at Fenway. A part of me can't believe it has been this long. I can remember very clearly sitting with my boss at a coffee shop worrying she would try to push me back into full time work (which she has never done). I remember the first time I noticed what the trees near my job looked like in the spring and realized I had made it farther into the year than I had the first time around before Cancer.
For the first time since this all started I feel like Cancer is on the back burner. It flares up from time to time when I have a bad headache or some random ache or pain, but I can turn it off now. I am planning things again. I can clearly see a good seven or eight months into the future. That may not seem like a long time to you, but it feels like an eternity to me. I am thankful for it.
I was talking to someone this week who said something about making a plan for something when I am 40. I gulped. First, because 40 is closer than it used to be. Second, and more importantly, because 40 is father away than it once was. I always assumed I would make it 40. Never a question in my mind. And this is more of the way Cancer is with me at the moment. I don't have the same kind of confidence that I once did that I will live to see 40. It was kind of shock to me to realize this and then say, 35 seems like it will be a big deal. I'd like to say it's the statistics and all the Cancer talk about one's risk of recurrence significantly going down after 5 years. That maybe after 5 and getting closer to 10 years, people might use the other "C" word. Cure. But I'm not sure that's what's holding me back. I don't read the stats much anymore. When I do read about cancer, I read about how people have made meaning out of having it and how people cope with ongoing issues related to what they call "Survivorship." (A term I'm still coming to terms with.)
If Cancer taught me anything it taught me that we don't own time. I can plan all I want. The only thing I know I'm going to do for sure is what I've already done and what I'm doing right now. I might not finish this blog post. I think I will. I'm planning on it. I might be nearly done with it. It still might not happen. I suspect with more time my ability to project or forecast myself into the future will extend. My hope is that it extends in a reality based way. I don't want to go back to some fantasy where I assume I will have time I might not have. I used to be so upset. SO angry that I had lost this sense of my future and instead was left with never ending worry. I have finally had enough time that I am not constantly worried. Enough time that I can see that the worrying and anxiety was the problem. Don't get me wrong. I feel sad I can't see 40. I feel sad about the possibility of not making it to 40. But more often these days it feels ok and good enough that I can enjoy and be present for 34, even if I can't be assured that I'll make it to 40.
One other thing....doesn't it seem like having Cancer should decrease your risk of having Cancer again? Like having the Chicken Pox, once you get it, you're immune and you don't have to do that again? Feels a bit like adding insult to injury that having it once actually increases your likelihood of having it again. I guess I still need more time to work on this one.