Hi there! It’s so good to be back in the Bloggerverse. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on this platform. Because I’ve been away for so long the “what do I write that warrants a first post in a long time” feeling has discouraged me from writing. I could regale you with my surgery/hospital stay/healing at home stories, but a sage friend recently asked me something that continues to pick at the corners of my mind. “What is the biggest takeaway from this experience?”
As a cancer survivor, people tend to want to hear something about how much more I take care of and appreciate my body or how much my zest for life has invariably been multiplied exponentially. Don’t get me wrong, both of those things are true. But those aren’t the most poignant for me. The most poignant are:
- Learning how to ask and accept help– this is something everyone I know struggles with. Picking ourselves up by our bootstraps is the American way, after all. Independence is woven into the fabric of our culture. In short, it’s a difficult quandary to need help in our society. Someone needing help at its core is perceived as someone less than, someone who ought to get cleaned up, go get a haircut and a job. And I got caught in that falsity. After saying one million “I got its” and “No, I’m goods”, I found my life decaying into loneliness and anxiety. There was a moment early on in the process when I had to just let go. Let my pride go. Let go of the inherent notion that needing something makes me or anyone inferior. I have even progressed to the point that I don’t feel like I owe someone something if they help me. I check the mental list of people I have yet to send Thank You cards daily, especially with my first surgery. I had a method of keeping track of everyone I should thank. But that became taxing as I obsessed over the people who were still on that list. A list that continues to grow. Since my last surgery, I have now accepted that maybe I won’t be able to send formal Thank You notes to all the baby cherubs in my life. And maybe that’s okay because the spirit of giving is not selfish. It doesn’t always have to be quid pro quo (Ugh, don’t get me started on that business).
- Being present in the moment– because there were several times throughout this journey when I thought I might die, I have learned to soak in every laugh, every hug, every conversation, every delicious bite of food, every intriguing scent etc. For the first time in my life, I can say that instead of living in memories or pondering what my future holds, I am truly present. My to do list fades and I am able to appreciate small delights throughout the day. I’ve been trying to achieve this for years and this experience gave me that most precious gift.
As I continue to heal, I continue to process. As more layers are processed, I’m sure I will discover even more that cancer has given me. I’ll continue to share!
With great gratitude,
P.S. My seven hour surgery couldn’t have gone better. It’s been the most difficult healing process I’ve been through, but I’m finally starting to feel good more often than not. I’m so happy to be alive!