Eight years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My reaction: terror.
For a very long time -- I can no longer remember how long, exactly, but at least a couple of years -- the terror was keen and unrelenting. World turned upside down and inside out.
It felt like I would never be free from that pull of . . . the undertow. Every day, no exceptions, I thought about the cancer, I thought about death and feared it. I feared whatever terrible things might come next. I feared pain. I feared so much. I was consumed by fear and dread.
Women who were farther down the breast cancer road said it would get better, slowly but surely. That I would get better at coping, at being braver despite my fears.
Miracle of miracles, I did. Slowly but surely.
Am I no longer fearful? Ha ha, of course not! I am still a big fat fraidy cat. Also a whiner.
BUT. I am much less fearful. I live with cancer now, much as I live with any and every other pro or con in my life. It's just one part of the whole big list of "parts of my life." It used to be this huge, glowering monster that stood out above everything else. Its shadow cast a darkness that swallowed up all the other, smaller parts (seemingly smaller at the time, that is) of my life.
Now? Now it's just one more thing that regularly gets put on one of my many, everchanging "to-do" lists.
Buy more dog food: CHECK.
Send new batch of poems to Julie: CHECK.
Start working on Fall Session class schedule: CHECK.
Change date of next chemo appointment, and don't forget to ask about MRI results: Check.
Hair appt: CHECK
Skype Will: CHECK
Clean up bedroom!: CHECK