I couldn’t find this in my cancer tour guide book; the section on how to determine your cancer-free landmark. It is an important calculation because that is the socially desired way of talking about yourself on the back side of this. No one wants to hear about cancer, as it is. No one wants to hear about the surgeries or the statistics or what wakes you up cold sweating in the dark of night. No, ma’am. People want the success story, the sigh of relief, the dodged-a-bullet story. And I want to cooperate. Of course, cancer-free is a misnomer. What it really means in this context is that the cancer we came to know you had is, to the best of our knowledge, not there anymore. Okay, then, that makes today my cancerversary because a year ago today I had the surgery that removed my cancer along with the body parts that played host to it. Gone and no signs of anything new since.
One year is a long time. One year does not seem like much at all, especially when most of that year was spent mired in the aftermath of reconstruction. I thought I would feel proud or at least relieved to be speaking from this day. I am not. I am angry and emotional and extraordinarily depressed. What is happening in the world horrifies me and more so today. What is happening in and to our country is a living, terrifying nightmare and more so today. And then there is cancer which gave me this day, this one year landmark, making it, too, feel more real today.
I cannot muster confidence that one year means all is well; I can only muster comfort from what surrounds me, but I have to stay very close to home in that pursuit. Gordy is traveling. I am home alone with the dogs and the horses and no one but me to get myself up to do chores and take care of these lovely beings because they count on that. I do, too, meaning that I count on them. I count on the rhythm of the day that demands I show up and make their world revolve as expected. If it wasn’t for that, I might venture a little too far down the dark paths that crack open for me in the dead of night — dead, being the operative word there.
So, if you have managed to drag yourself through the ugliness of my cancerversary induced fear-thoughts, let me reward you with pretty pictures of ponies and puppies, each one of them, all taken today. It’s what I do — take pictures; try to freeze frame a moment and hope that it will stay with me forever, however long forever is. The view is wonderful, close to home.
4 thoughts on “Cancerversary”
Dear, dear Lisa,
You write such that I feel your pain all the way to Minnesota. And you deserve each and every minute of it. The last year has been hell for you and Gordy. What would you ever have done without your four-leggeds? They must have been the reason you got out of bed on many days, no?
Thanks for telling cancer’s story truthfully. All of us who remain cancer-free (for the moment) know there’s an “after cancer” life and our hope is that it’s rosy. But we know it’s not. Ever.
As one of many, however, I’m grateful you’re here. No matter what shape you’re in. No matter how you count whatever. I’m just so grateful you’ve persevered through it all. I know that’s selfish on my part and I’ll take the hit. I just want you here, with your beloved horses, donkeys and dogs.
So, thanks for enduring and being here for us. You’re our gift.
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Bonnie, exactly and best words — cancer-free (for the moment). Who can know or say? It is just always this moment. I am so hoping your hip recovery journey is more encouraging every day. I am so looking forward to spending time with you and Jane, I cannot tell you! Peace and hugs to you both.
Thanks, Lisa! I was not daunted by your cancer log at all! All of us need to keep our eyes open to the what is here and now! And not discount or hid our anger and discouragement. Since my return, I’ve succumbed to (no surprise) laryngitis, sore throat & cough! (Open up that throat chakra, Pat!) So….. with the first part of your post, I flashed back to the lovely cracked open tree in your pasture….green and alive. Mark Nepo’s April 18th meditation spoke to that! “Look for something that resembles your pain”. I couldn’t think of any better example that your tree. Cracked open! Green! And alive! Our world is cracking open, our darkness exposed….and it’s hard to watch. Infuriated, hard to watch! But with that I’m seeing the green! Green is hearing my 16 yr old grandson opening his mind and heart to talk about both sides of an issue (which means his father has as well)! Green is the people marching at the State Capitol for Water yesterday. Green is reading an editorial in our local paper written by art teachers calling out our state representatives for not supporting the arts. Green is hearing the Ramone Institute has taken on defending those charged at Standing Rock. Green was being with you and your family of animals! I’ll keep looking for the “greens” …. AND thank you for reminding me not to lost touch with my anger and to honor my fear!
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Pat, first let me say Mark Nepo has been speaking to my soul! Thank you so much for the book and your incredibly brilliant timing of the gift it is. Second, I spent time with the cracked tree after you left and when you look at her closely at her base, you see she is connected to her sister tree next to where she once stood. Her sister is keeping her alive. They are alive together! Now, if that isn’t the metaphor I needed for life, I don’t know what is! Thank you so much for being you, Pat. Let yourself out; the world needs your voice! Hugs. ❤