It is a pretty safe bet that I would prefer not to be writing about this.
How lovely it would be if I was just sitting around waiting for the 11th of November to arrive. I would be celebrating the fact that it has been 11 years since I was first diagnosed with early breast cancer and that cancer was a piece of my past and only a distant memory.
While it is true that in a few days I am 11 years past my very first diagnosis but today it is three years since I heard the words – We can treat you, but we cannot cure you.
It was today, three years ago that my life changed direction. Heading off down a path that just the day before I had not expected or even contemplated as possible. My body had unexpectedly invited squatters in to take up residence all around the place. Mentally, physically and emotionally your world changes right at that exact moment forever. It takes just a little while to deal with being told that you are dealing with a stage IV (incurable) breast cancer.
I think I may begin to refer to it as my ‘squatterversary’.
Well you have to call it something!!!!!!
Celebrate ? – Well I am certainly not excited to be living with squatters that have tried out a few places in my body and have settled nicely into my liver and my bones. I cannot deny that I am living in extremely close quarters with obnoxious teenagers who want to take over my body and if they succeed will not only take my life but end theirs too. (yes, think about it, cancer may be smart enough to work around treatments but the continued existence part seriously needs a little more work!!)
Acknowledge ? – Of course. It is three years since we discovered my body had little surprises. There can be no blame as to why or how. The guilt trip is not helpful and the blame game is pointless. We cannot interview the cancer and ask it how and why it decided to take up residence. If it was that simple, we could stop all cancers from doing it and cancer would be a thing of the past. I certainly wish the ‘trumpet blowers’ would think about this point as I become tired of finger pointing, blame games and conspiracy theories being thrown about.
It is a bitter sweet thing. So I acknowledge today because I cannot ignore it and I celebrate today because I am still here and still living.
Right at this moment I am off all treatments for six weeks as my last medications stopped working and my body really needs a break to gain some strength and balance before the next chemotherapy treatment begins.
If this was three years ago, I think I would have been horrified at the lack of ‘medication protection’ for any length of time. It is only now I understand so much better.
I have finally moved from need to think about treatment as a ‘curative’ measure where the harder it hits the cancer the better it must be (yes, yes, I know I was told this from the start – but you really cannot help it – you really want to believe that you will be different that treatment will in fact cure you) to working with treatments that will hopefully slow down the cancer and give a better quality of life while doing it. I may never hear ‘NED’ (No evidence of disease) but am always looking of the word ‘stable’ to show up on a report.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? I am walking a tight rope while riding a roller coaster and no, it is not an exaggeration. This is how I try to balance my life, love and treatment. It is never ending and tiring and that is why I welcome treatment breaks now.
I have so much living still left to do and I cannot and will not place a time limit on it. When the ‘dark side’ is not trying to recruit me (yes it tries all too often!!) I live by “it is what it is” and work with “change what you can and do not waste energy on what you cannot”
You never know what is just around the corner and what new and amazing treatment is on the horizon. The next treatment may be the ‘one’ to stop those squatters in their tracks. It is something that is beyond my control and I can just balance and manage the requirements as I move along.
I am still happy with how I look at my “Just Do It” list. My camera has become the one big thing that keeps me in the moment. Even on days where I feel less than ordinary, I can head out into my yard and snap away for just a while and forget about everything.
There are some wonderful things on it that without question I would love to experience but some things will continue to stay just out of reach. At the end of the day it is the things that I get to do with my family and close friends that I am looking towards the most.. and finally getting around the house and garden finished (yes, I am still trying to get it finished!!!).
So happy squatterversary to me and may there be many more to come.