It has only been four weeks since my initial visit to the GP, with a mysterious lump in my left breast, but it feels like four years. The ten days since my cancer diagnosis might as well have been a decade, so much has the time dragged towards my surgery.
I find my emotions and thoughts change by the day, by the hour, sometimes even by the minute. I can’t bring myself to say words like ‘tumour’ or even ‘lump’ out loud, so I refer to it as ‘The Thing’.
To have cancer seems ridiculous, surreal, bizarre and yet I am surprised how normal I feel most of time. Friends have commented on this too. Maybe we expect to be weeping and wailing endlessly when faced with a situation of this enormity. The human spirit seems to protect us in some way though, and gives us the ability to carry on.
I know that I have not fully assimilated the knowledge that I have a potentially terminal illness, and perhaps I never will. Perhaps there is no need to. The ability to compartmentalise this, put it away, shut it off from everyday life allows me just to get on with things, as is my wont anyway.
At times – quite frequently in fact – I forget about it but it is perhaps best not to forget, as the remembering is so painful and shocking and sudden. From out of nowhere, my heart seems to crash in my chest and I am washed over with an unfamiliar, extraordinarily deep emotion – somewhere between sadness and fear but unlike either of those quite everyday feelings.
Tears flow, fiercely but briefly, and seem to wash away the fear as quickly as it arrived. I have always been a great believer in the power of tears to cleanse, and never more so than now.
And then there are days like today, when the sun shines with that bright, brilliant light that you only see in spring. I spent the afternoon digging our vegetable plot and planting seed potatoes. I took a break, made a cup of tea and sat on our ancient wooden bench (cautiously as one of the slats is rotted through!)
I closed my eyes and turned my face to the sun. Looking up at the bright blue sky, through branches of fragrant plum blossoms, I felt strangely euphoric – calm, empowered and content. Where did that come from? I decided not to question it but just to treasure the feeling for as long as it lasted.