This summer, cancer walked behind me. Today – it walks beside me. I don’t want it to walk in front of me ever again. And so – I put up a firewall between cancer and I. That way, I can avoid it. Or at least I think I can.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked me this morning.
“Nothing. Why?” I responded.
“You seem impatient. I can’t read you this morning.”
“I’m fine.” I retorted, thinking, “What’s wrong with you?”
It’s easier to blame the other person for misunderstanding you than it is to look inside and see if there is something wrong. That’s what I did.
“Barb’s knee gave out this morning” I began. “She had to ask her Dad to come and pick her up half way through our walk. She was in so much pain. After she was picked up, I continued the walk – alone. That gave me a lot of time to think. I’ve been so busy with activity that I really have not had much time for thinking. That’s a good thing, especially since this morning triggered me to walk with my cancer again.”
And there it was. There was something wrong. Summer is drawing to a close. This summer has been so free for me. I’ve been able to play and do things – to set goals and achieve them. My family has been surrounding me, albeit with some breaks here and there. But, we have been together and I’ve shared moments with each of my children and, of course, my husband. This morning, I noticed the Canada Geese have begun to cluster on the pond once more, preparing for their flight south. The maple tree along the walking path has hinted that it may just turn red soon. My eldest son, Ben, has booked his flight to return to school in Thunder Bay. The sky just seems to be “different” – like me.
Monday is the day the results of my recent blood-work will be revealed to me. I’ve been counting down those days for the past week – and now, I can almost count the minutes. What will I do if the results of my CA- 125 indicate cancer has returned? How do I cope? How will I have the strength to fight again? I know I have to – how can I find the energy? It is so much easier to put up a firewall and keep these thoughts out than it is to deal with them.
“Kevin, I’m scared.” I finally told him. “I don’t want to admit it or talk about it because I’m not sure I can return from the fear. If I don’t talk about it, I can hide it and it goes away. If I talk about it – it comes to the surface and it becomes so much more difficult to “play” again.”
“You have to talk about it, Stacey.” Kevin replied. “Otherwise, how do I know what you are feeling to support you and be more empathetic? I’ll just think, “what’s with her?””.
He was right. So, I talked. And I cried. And then cried some more. And then I felt sorry for myself. Kevin hugged me. No more words were needed. I needed some quiet time.
Here I am. I can’t shake it off. I knew this would happen and yet I am almost relieved I have been given permission to be down. It is going to be that kind of day. Even the weather is down. Pathetic fallacy is what it’s called in English. It just started raining outside – and it feels the same way in my heart. So – I write.
It is nearing a year since cancer became an identified figure in our lives. This time last year I remember being in so much pain in my liver, thinking, “why am I going to a gynecologist when I have problems with my gall bladder?”. This time last year, I was gearing up for school and wondering what challenges we would be facing as a school team? This time last year, I was living life on the surface, complaining about the small things – minding my children but not really taking time for them.
So many things have changed. I’ve walked – we’ve walked such a long road. There were so many times that I believed I’d never see “today”. To celebrate my birthday was unimaginable. And then when chemo began and my energy was zapped, I believed I would be incapacitated forever. I believed I’d never be in my garden, never climb a hill, never dance again. Yet – here I am. I do all these things – while cancer sits on my shoulder.
No. No kayak today – no bike ride today – no gardening today. Today, I will regroup. I will walk the mental journey through the day – it won’t look pretty – but I’ll get through. There is no calling my Dad to come and pick me up. I wish. But there is calling my Father to come and walk with me. And I have faith that He will as he He has brought me this far.
Today the firewall goes up. I need some quiet reflection. I need to be alone.
Tomorrow will be a new day. And I thank God for it.
“Are you coming out with me to run some errands, Stacey?” Kevin asked.
“No. Not today, Kevin. Not today.”