Cancer is a strange old disease, that’s for sure. Its power to evoke the strongest of emotions, at the most inopportune times, even when it is technically no longer even within one’s body, is quite extraordinary.
Over the last few days I have felt an ever-increasing weight on my shoulders a tension in my chest and a heaviness in my heart; these were physical sensations but also abstract, metaphorical ones. I felt like a bottle of soda that had been not vigorously shaken, but gently tipped back and forth so the pressure slowly built up under the lid.
Today the lid popped. Tears flowed. I couldn’t stop them and I wouldn’t want to. I knew this had been brewing for days. As each wave of tears subsided, I thought ‘OK, that’s done. Now I can get on with my day’ but I couldn’t and, a few moment later, more tears came.
So I consciously decided not to attempt to do or achieve anything today. The food shopping could wait; the dog walk could wait (ah, thank goodness for our patient little hound); picking up my repeat prescription of letrozole from the doctors could wait; everything except this all-important emotional response could wait. I accepted the power of my feelings and went with them on the tide.
You could choose to describe this as a ‘bad day’. After all a day spent crying might not seem the most productive, but it wasn’t bad at all. It was just a day. A day in the life of a recovering cancer patient. Actually I think it was a ‘good day’ because tears are healing; they are our safety valve; our pressure release; they cleanse our minds and leave us ready for something fresh, something new or something that will make us feel cheerful or content, which is almost invariably around the corner.
Since my active treatment ended last week, many people have said ‘I expect you’re glad it’s over’. Of course I am quietly pleased that the treatments, the appointments, the sheer drudge of the cancer experience have finished for the time being. But ‘over’? No. In truth, it will never be over.
From now on, my life will forever be defined by cancer in some way. Not dominated by it, not ruled by it, not dictated to by it, but it will be a presence. Sometimes it will be centre stage, other times it will recede into the darkness, into the shadows, into the wings. It may always have the power to overwhelm me with emotion, perhaps when I least expect it, but I can learn to accept that.