Some days the weight of it all is too much.
Here we are nearly halfway through the month of October and my self appointed task of a ‘post-a-day’. Well, I have to tell you I’m actually finding this quite hard. Hard, as in difficult. Yes, the admin of scheduling the posts, even though I do have a plan, but things change. You know life happens – or death – so Steve Jobs gets an impromptu post. And I am indebted to Ronnie here, for his help and guidance as we look at the schedule and decide what will work.
And then there are the comments. Moving. Sometimes achingly so.
I’m saddened that there’s even enough subjects for a post-a-day, in fact there’s more than enough. I’m moved by my friends’ reactions, by what they write. By how deeply this touches people around me. Oh, but the weight of it all.
Yesterday I was having a chat with my friend Rach (more about her tomorrow, she wrote yesterday’s post) and we talked about the ‘how do you talk about it’ side of things. I was relating how difficult I find it now in new social situations, and whether I disclose the fact that I am a breast cancer patient or not. Because once you say it, you can’t take it back. You get that ‘look’ from some people, the pity or the fear. Then they don’t talk to you as much as they used to. Sigh.
And then the comment today from ‘Jack’ on The well trodden path about his partner Adreinne. It was so moving, I’m posting it again here:
Adrienne lived with metastatic breast cancer for 6 years. She hated the idea of being treated as either a victim or a hero so she kept her condition a secret from her family, friends and work colleagues right up to the end.
We maintained the story that her progressive disability and bone pain were related to osteoporosis or something similar. The fiction allowed her to lead a “normal” social life, being treated with respect and affection at work as a teacher, as a mother, daughter and as a friend. No triumph, no tragedy, as they say in the disability rights movement.
After her mastectomy in ’96 she was given the All Clear and given no cancer related drugs – the mistake was found a year later by which time the disease had metastasised. Whether earlier treatment could have saved or extended her life we could never know and it never concerned her. She took the view that she was living with cancer, not dying from it.
Adrienne died on 12th October 2003. I’m sure she would have appreciated this blog and wished all its contributors strength and peace.
I just couldn’t believe it. She kept it a secret so she wouldn’t be stigmatised. That, to me, says so much about this crappy disease.
The things that come from the pain. The distress I feel about my friend Rach dealing with metastatic breast cancer, my sadness about her situation. My guilt that my life is opening up while hers is shrinking. Here I am, I can run, box, play squash, work, dig… and yet she can’t even leave the house to walk up a few steps to her mail box for fear that she will fall as she is so weak from the treatments that are keeping her alive. I hate it. The weight of cancer. This burden.
I’m grateful to my other friend who reassures me that I am not selfish to want an ‘after’, an ‘after breast cancer’ life (thank you G). I want an after. But I know it’s not guaranteed how long it will last. I know that.
I skipped home yesterday from training at the boxing gym, the drops of rain on the grass shining in the car headlights like diamonds and everything felt amplified. Today the weight of breast cancer is on my shoulders. It feels like the proverbial albatross, and I need a break.
My new editor is Ronnie Hughes. You know him. You will be in good hands.
I’m not disappearing, you’ll still hear from me sometimes. But right now I’m going for a rest.