Sunday, 22 January 2012

the good stuff

Fear and anger aren't really my style.

I don't really 'do' hopeless.

I woke up this morning, and before I had lifted my head from the pillow, before I had opened my eyes, I felt the tears sliding out of them. I must have made a noise, because Rob came and sat on the bed next to me.

It was the moment where you remember it wasn't all a nightmare, a terrible dream to be shuddered at then hopefully forgotten in the thin warmth of filtered sunlight.

I got up. Greeted my babies with a cheerful voice. Brushed my teeth. Padded downstairs. And then a second remembrance knocked the pitiful wind out of my sails.

People with cancer are desperate to find some aspect of the illness they can control. Didn't take me long to learn that. I think that's why we have so much interest in diet.

I've said it for years about feeding children: what children eat and how it comes out are about the only two things they can really control. Why do you think there are so many battles over broccoli?

Well, the same is true for people with cancer. What we eat is one of the only ways we can control what is going on with our bodies.

Anyway, I was on the stairs, wasn't I? I could smell the coffee Rob had brewed. And I remembered I had decided to cut coffee out immediately.

I've done it before. Caffeine is very bad when you're trying to conceive and in early pregnancy. I have many months - years even - of hot water with lemon under my belt.

But what a crappy thing to remember before I had even properly woken up. So hot water with lemon it was.

While I sipped the bitter start to my day, I tried to squeeze a little positivity out of myself. Began to compile a list of the good stuff.

The Good Stuff includes:

:: what love feels like - how many times in our lives are we told we are loved and cherished by virtually everyone we know, simultaneously? My friends' and loved ones' response to this has overwhelmed me, and I suspect has altered forever my own view of myself for the better.

:: a chance to evaluate - I've spent many hours this week looking hard at my own life choices. And I feel pretty satisfied. I've done some stupid, ill-advised things, but I do feel happy with my journey. I have lived! I've loved hard and followed my heart and I've chased dreams and overcome crazy challenges.

:: more empathy - for people who are suffering, who are frightened, who feel powerless, and especially for those who feel alone.

:: my schedule is free - my lump couldn't have timed its appearance better. The end of June to the middle of January is my busy period. One birthday after another. New classes to get to know at school. Halloween. Advent Fayre. Christmas. Another birthday. And what happy, care-free memories we made last year! There's space on my calender for surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy now. Cancer, you've got six whole months to bugger off.

:: a get out of jail free card - I'm one of those women who walk around with a little yoke of guilt mizzling round their necks: I haven't replied to that email, I haven't posted the thank-you cards, I haven't done puzzles with the baby today, I haven't finished painting the front hall.... Now I'm free! No one's going to expect me to do much of anything other than survive for a while. I intend to make the most of that.

:: a strengthening of bonds - so far, my husband and I have cleaved to one another. What an opportunity to see how much we really mean to each other. And how much we really need each other.

:: my beautiful body - I stood naked before a full-length mirror today and decided my body would still be beautiful in its disfigurement. How wonderful my healthy body is! It is strong and lovely and its flaws stand as testament to the challenges it has faced and conquered before.

There will be more good stuff. I'll add it when I think of it.

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