It’s like I haven’t even been sick. For the last couple of days, cancer has taken a back seat to hard work.
Nearly 15 years ago, Kevin and I invested in a townhouse. The purpose was to help our children with their university educations. At the time, we hadn’t consider capital gains tax and so we thought we had a solid plan. As real estate investments paid off, Kevin and I were struck with the reality that if we sold it – we would lose a lot of our investment to taxes. So , we held onto the townhouse. It is now vacant and we must decide to sell or to rent again.
Funny how life’s circumstances change one’s decisions. I’m inclined now to sell. I want to see the profits of my “life’s” work while I can. Who knows how long any of us will live, but seriously, I have to face my statistics with a sober second thought. Maybe “now” is time to sell off an investment – maybe “now” is the future?
Brian McCracken, our real estate agent, has bought and sold houses for our family for probably more than 30 years now. We trust him. So, when the townhouse became vacant, we called him for advice.
That place had seen many, many tenants over the years. Some were single Moms and their children, some were young families waiting for their new home to be built, and some families separated while they were there. Many, many a meal must have been eaten in that kitchen and many, many must have sat in the back yard and enjoyed the sound of the birds in the trees growing in the backyard. The townhouse backs onto green space.
Many, many tenants had been through making a mess too. The wear and tear showed: the carpet, the roof, the appliances, the paint. Things needed to be spruced up. Nothing was really destroyed. There were a few holes in the walls, but nothing really major. I knew, when we were walking through for inspection, that I could do the mudding and taping and painting – if only I weren’t on chemo. I had, afterall, mudded and taped our entire home in Collingwood. Dad taught me how. Mom helped me paint. It wasn’t difficult once I got the hang of it – other than the fact that Ben had just been born and he woke up every once in a while to feed. I had to put everything away, wash the tools or they would rust, clean up and then feed him. Once he was back to sleep, I’d put him in the swing and climb back up the scaffolding to work once again. I guess I was driven to complete.
I didn’t realize until yesterday that I like hard work. I mean, I always knew I liked working and was compelled to finish a job once it was started. But, I didn’t know how much I LOVE hard work. There is such feeling of accomplishment to be productive. In the end, there is a physical, tangible testimony to “your” efforts to be seen. I began in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure how long I would last – I was four days out of chemo. Ben was with me. He began hanging a new door. We worked for five hours. I scraped the oven, washed the walls and cupboards, scoured the floors, washed the windows, changed the hardware, and then went home and cooked dinner for seven people. Ben was right there with me, helping. I couldn’t believe what had happened to me. I didn’t feel the least bit tired. I was, in fact, energized – five days off of chemo.
The next morning, I could barely… wait to get back to work. I woke up at 3 in the morning, dreaming about fixing the holes in the walls. By 8 am, Ben and I were at it again. Ben installed new lights and I patched and sanded holes, scrubbed doors, and painted trim. We took garbage from the back yard to the garage and carted new paint from the shelves of Lowe’s back to the townhouse. We worked another solid six hours. I was six days off chemo.
“Maybe I’m reacting to the steroids, Ben?” I questioned. “I can’t believe I have so much energy. Maybe this is what the after-effects of taking them are?”
I honestly felt great. I had no idea why. I thanked God for the day.
“Maybe you should have gone kayaking, Stacey”, Kevin suggested. “Make decisions that will make you happy – enjoy your time. Don’t do things that you may regret having spent time doing”.
This, was a response to my summer of 2014 – before cancer – when I spent the summer painting our very tired and weary house. The paint was peeling badly and we either had to hire someone or I needed to do it myself. I had regretted the time I had spend working instead of playing with David. Remission had given me a second chance because the summer of 2015 was a summer of play.
But, David was in school and nothing was really compelling me to play yet. The weather over the last couple of days, while warming, was still a little too chilly to play. Other than Grandma and Rita, no one else was home. So – I worked on our townhouse.
I am up and ready to go again today. I am excited for the day. Katya’s friend and I will be painting all day and I hope to finish that job. I’ll get David up and out the door to school and then head out. I can. I am able. The only thing that hurts me is my arm where the chemo was injected; a reminder that I am now seven days off chemo. It has been one week.
When I work, I can forget that I have cancer. I feel normal. I still have my hair, so if I don’t pay attention to my knees, my ankles, and my arm, I forget. It is like a mini-vacation.
When I work, I have a goal and I am focused on that goal. Having accomplished the goal, I feel a sense of accomplishment.
When I work, I feel I have a purpose. I feel meaningful.
I love being productive. This is my lesson. I am so very, very lucky that I have not (yet) suffered severe consequences of my disease. I am painfully aware that, one day, this may change. This has taught me, however, that as long as I am able – in any way, shape of form – I will “do”. Hard work is the elixir that cures all ailments.