My husband and I were talking late into the night. We talked about the “old us”, the us before cancer came into our lives.
We talked about how much we have grown and changed in the last three and a half years, since cancer came to call. And while it’s terrible that the cancer is back and we’re fighting it all over again, we both agreed that we actually like the way cancer has changed us.
We’re more grateful for everything good in our lives. We’re more thankful for what we do have. We don’t sweat the small stuff anymore (mostly). And cancer has brought us even closer together in our relationship. It has taught us invaluable lessons in life that we may not ever have met otherwise – the real importance of family and friends, that happiness really does come from within and not from material things. It has shown us just how strong and resilient we both can be as individuals and as a team, when our backs are against the wall. It has tested and tested and tested our love and every time, we have won.
We’re in a new chapter now, and we’re not sure where it’s headed. But we’ve been through so much that we know that all we really have is today. Today is all any of us really have.
And we’ve learnt that looking forward or looking back is often the cause of our stress and anxiety. So we work on living in the present, on keeping our mindsets strong and positive, on growing my husband’s business and on the number of proverbial “horses” running in my race back to health.
Having a “stage 4” diagnosis is a strange situation to be in. On my good days I can almost forget about it. On the bad days, it’s like living in a nightmare that you’re never waking up from. Often even just the thought of the label threatens to ruin the special moments in our lives.
I’ve learnt things can change day by day or even hour by hour, and that nothing can be taken for granted.
My mind is full just with keeping on track with all of my medications, supplements and appointments. If I take my eye off the ball for a day or two, there’ll more than likely be a problem as a result, for example, constipation, anxiety, additional pain or exhaustion. So I’m sorry if I seem distracted or I never got back to your message. It’s entirely unintentional.
Friends are reluctant to share their news with me, they feel I have enough on my plate as it is. I miss the connection that comes with sharing life’s ups and downs honestly with others. I’ve been lucky so far not to have lost my hair, so strangers get no clue as to what my life is really about. Sometimes this is great but sometimes it isn’t either.
I wonder what it must be like to be a friend of mine, or someone I worked with at some point. Or just a new person meeting me for the first time. Am I the “mom with cancer” or “that poor woman”… Hell, if I knew me, I don’t think I’d know what to say to me either. (Hint – just treat me the same as you would anyone else.)
While working with Olive on my fundraiser, I half-joked with her that I felt so sorry for this desperate woman we were raising money for – me! I guess if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry, right?
I hate thinking about my life without me in it. I wonder what my home would be like without me here. I wonder how much time I’ve got – is it days, weeks, months, years? I wonder is it normal to wonder these things.
Stage 4 cancer. Is this really happening? Sometimes I can’t quite believe it is. I still feel like me, I haven’t become someone else. Sometimes it feels like this is happening to someone else and I’m watching from the sides.
I want to live so badly. So desperately. I want to see my little boy grow up. I want to be there for all his milestone moments and make sure he has everything he possibly needs from his mom. I want to make all the memories I’ve dreamed of of life with my husband.
I smile ruefully when I think of how much time I spent worrying about the cancer coming back. It’s back. Ironically it’s one less thing to worry about. Now we just have to deal with it and sometimes, crazily, that seems easier than that worry used to be.
I don’t entertain prognoses for a second. I’ve never asked my oncologist how long he thinks I have, nor have I Googled it. I won’t be dying on time for anyone. It is my intention that I’ll be smashing every record and living for a long time yet. I still have dreams for the future and I’m not going to limit them now.
A Happy Magazine reader recently told me she is about to reach 30 years living with cancer. How these words gave me hope. While I know many would say there is no hope for me, that’s not how I choose to do this, most of the time. I tell myself that others in worse situations than mine have found remission, one way or another, and that if it is possible for them, it’s possible for me too. I work on that.
These may be the cards we have been dealt, but we’re playing them and darn it, we’re making it an epic game.
By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy.
Are you also a Stage 4 thriver? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below if you would like to share your story on Happy Magazine and we will get in touch.