I’ve got six months. After the recent kerfuffle that occurred when my first post-cancer-diagnosis, post-surgery, post-radiation, post-everything mammogram had to be repeated to examine some “residual calcifications,” I was doubly thrilled that this repeat mammogram was found to be negative. The weeks immediately preceding this news were fraught with more unexpected, shocking and frustrating twists-n-turns than a bad soap opera, during which I found myself emotionally reliving the entire previous year since this adventure began with last year’s annual physical. Not a pleasant time. But at the end of it, I felt like a death-row convict whose sentence has been commuted. Finally! I’m free of this beast!! Well, for the next six months anyway, until I get my next mammogram.
Fortunately, I have become well-acquainted with living in the moment. And Spring has sprung around here! Three days after my stay of execution, my girlfriend and I both had the day off, so we visited a mansion called Blithewold on a brilliantly beautiful day, and meandered through thousands of blooming daffodils. Magical! During our day-long excursion, I bought the demitasse cups above from a shop that sold French pottery, and later, at another store, a nice little stove-top espresso-maker to go with them. I also bought a dress and a purple handbag.
The next day, I slept late, did errands, walked the dog, took a nap in the afternoon, and went out to a local amateur mystery-dinner-theater production that several friends were appearing in. I wore my new dress, and enjoyed seeing one of my oldest pals in Rhode Island play a Russian ice dancer with a really bad accent! The next day I worked, as I do every Sunday. That brings us up to this week just past. When people asked me how I was, I was able to say truthfully that I was splendid. The weather continued to be springlike, the sun shone, the flowers bloomed, my tax refund was direct-deposited, I had no cancer, the world was my sandbox. Then the stress of the last month caught up with me, and I spent the next few days sleeping it off like a hangover. But I got to finish my work week by noon on Thursday. So today, I felt pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I got up this morning. I got my hair done, caught up with my email, and still had the afternoon ahead of me. For the first time in months, I actually had the wherewithall to contemplate cleaning my house.
This is not a small thing. There are several discussion threads on the online breast cancer forum I belong to which discuss the many-splendored variations of fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder which visit those of us being treated for breast cancer. Fatigue and stress in these circumstances are the subjects of many research studies and seminar papers. I personally belong to two separate discussion threads which are both devoted to bemoaning the inability of the average breast cancer survivor to contemplate any serious housework. Our lamentations are many, and these two threads are two of the most-visited on the forum. So, I assure you, reviving the ability to give a rodent’s derriere about the state of one’s house and then mustering up the energy to address that state is a very significant watershed in one’s recovery.
What finally did it for me, in addition to unbridled relief and a couple of solid nights’ worth of sleep, was the startling realization that I can no longer find anything in my house anymore. I mean, anything. I go to the store for kitty crunchies and hair conditioner, I come home, walk into the pantry to deposit the bag of crunchies, then visit the bathroom, and suddenly, I can’t find the hair conditioner. This happens at least once a day. I spend an alarming amount of time walking around my really very small house and its very small rooms looking for my new tube of lipstick or my overdue library books or the mate to the zebra-striped hoop earring in my hand that I wanted to wear with my new blouse, that I was planning to wear with those black T-strap heels I got last summer but can’t find in the bottom of my closet.
Enough! Finito! Cancer has wreaked quite enough havoc upon my life, thank you very much! I can’t find the top of my desk, I’ve gained 10 pounds, and I have dust bunnies the size of Bengal tigers under my bed. Tomorrow, I start taking my life, my waistline and my home back from the clutches of the Beast!! As soon as I find those new vacuum-cleaner bags I bought the other day.
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