Another busy week has passed. I'm looking forward to what should be a quiet week with some solid time spent in my own house. My nephew picked up a virus at daycare and was home bound all last week. I traveled up to help babysit on Thursday and Friday. Then spent an extra day just hanging out with the family. Always, always a good and relaxing time. My nephew is growing and becoming more and more a little guy each time I see him. I suspect he'll start having a small vocabulary very soon. It's a pretty amazing process to watch and I'm very glad that I have the opportunity to be such a part of his life. Then spent yesterday helping my mom clear out more of the house and my grandparent's things. We emptied out a file cabinet, a large hutch, got started on the box piles, and cleared most of one room. Still a lot more to be done to de-clutter the house. But progress is being made and it sounds like a garage sale is on the near horizon.
Been struggling in my head space since returning from holiday. Starting to deal with the niggling fears that crop up after a NED diagnosis. From what I've heard and read from other cancer survivors, this is how the process goes. Pains and problems that are probably just from everyday life (sleeping on an air mattress for two weeks, post-chemo side effects, being forty, etc.) make me worry that something might be wrong, that it might be new tumors causing the pain. Logically I know that I am in a fear phase, that I just need to accept the thoughts and let them go. But they are persistent little fuckers and fear is a strong emotion. Although I am hopeful that we have cured this forever, I still feel absolutely certain that it will come back. And I feel pinned in by the five year table. That horrible table that just says "negligible percentage" for the five-year survival rate of a stage four rectal cancer. It consumes me in certain moments and I am drowned by waves of regret and sadness.
It keeps me moving and keeps me filling my calendar with item after item. I want to take advantage of every opportunity to be with friends and family. To smile and love and make wonderful memories. I find it difficult to leave at the end of visits. Wishing that I could somehow break myself into many pieces and leave one piece with all the people I love so that I don't miss any moments. Even when I give myself the chance to slow down I feel compelled to do "all the things!" There are too many things that interest me and there will never be the time to get to it all because I keep adding wants to the interest list. And I used to be okay with that in the past. It felt encouraging to know that there were heaps of books, projects, films, music, encounters, places, and people waiting out there. Like grapes hanging heavy on a vine, just waiting for me to stroll by and pick from the plentitude. But now that abundance feels something like a burden. A Sisyphean venture. And I have to tune out the booming "tick-tock" of the countdown clock in my head.
We have this instinctual mental defense mechanism that disallows us from really thinking about our mortality on a regular basis. Perhaps the chemo dulled that mechanism along with the rest of my brain functions. Though I know, with crushing reality, that this is just part of the cancer process. My girl Lori even talked about this in her most recent blog post (Breast Cancer is My Bitch). And she is almost two years clear. I may not have the physical struggles of cancer anymore, but the mental one is only hitting its stride. I have to get stronger, be more willful, stay mindful. I hesitate to be so open about my mind state here. I don't want to worry anyone or bring them down. But this is the place for it. This is where I decided to chronicle the good, the bad and the ugly. And I won't shy away from the truth of this journey.