I guess I have this one lesson to impart—it ain’t over til it’s over. Meaning that just because someone finishes chemo doesn’t mean all is fine and dandy–see every 4 months I have to go for a check up. Most of the time I am just fine, say hi, have the blood drawn and see my amazing doctor. Yesterday because of all the hormonal changes I was scared. All over again–trying not to freak out because I forget that one simple fact, “I don’t have cancer…anymore.”
But you see, I have friends with cancer, I have friends with recurrences and mets. So I am lucky but I still have that fear that rears its ugly head no and then.
Yesterday I saw someone I knew slightly from a long time ago and I didn’t say hi. I have kicked myself ever since. I could have offered a hand, a shoulder, a laugh, but I was afraid he wouldn’t remember me. Honestly I’m not sure I would have remembered him if I hadn’t been aware of his success in his career. As I am not a successful career woman I didn’t think he would remember me. I need to come out of my shell a bit more. Sometimes I fear I will be wrong but I just have to remember those complete strangers who helped me. A man with stubble on his head a half inch long rubbing it and saying, “See it does come back.”
So I resolve to step out and take a chance.
Yesterday as I was driving in to LA I kept my thoughts calm–which took a lot of work and I kept thinking, “We are so fffing macho.” Us survivors, yes we are brave in the thick of it but afterwards, when we are no longer on our guard all the time, when our lives become about our kids, jobs, husbands and parents and hobbies. It is then that we are really strong because no matter how far we get away from the time in the trenches we still have to go back to the battlefield and visit.
We drive in the same driveway and speak to the same sweet valet parkers. We still get in the same elevator and punch the 2nd floor. We still say hello to the receptionist with the kind smile and to the nurses who draw our blood and take our temperatures. We still have to do those things like a thousand times before. Only this time we got a break. We got 4 months of forgetting. We got four months of driving our kids around, making dinner, taking trips, helping with homework and broken hearts. We got all that time away and then POW! in one fell swoop we are back with the smells and the nerves and the oceans of emotions that live in the oncology center.
I am not always that way. But I was yesterday and I owe it to myself to allow myself the freedom to express my own experience. It was not terrible and I did not dissolve into a blithering idiot. It was like home. A place where people smile and are kind and yesterday…yesterday they gave me good news. That I will hold on to for my next visit, which seems so far off, in December.