A year ago yesterday I was given a diagnosis, and got on the Pooka’s back, thereby starting my wild transformative journey. I could not even say the word mastectomy out loud then, I had lots of fear. (I now know that some of my anxiety the week of my biopsy and diagnosis was directly related to a side effect of the anesthesia I received.) At that time it was hard for me to imagine my life as it is now. I feel so blessed.
In three days I will have my last Herceptin infusion and have my IV port removed, signaling an end to a year of intensive western medical treatments. This also signals that I am nearing the end of my healing sabbatical year. A year off that I granted myself to heal and transform, or alternately, to put my affairs in order and spend time with my children if I were to be facing death. Last year at this time I didn’t know which route this year would take, death or redemption. I give thanks that as things turned out it has been a year of metamorphosis with hope of being a little old lady. For now I get to continue the great privilege of being a wife, mama, friend, sister and daughter.
Thinking about what this year has brought to my life, I can honestly say that the cancering has brought more than it has taken. Which is not to diminish what has been lost- but to acknowledge what has been gained. Cancering is a wake-up call- loud and harsh and dangerous. The cost is very high to learning this particular set of life lessons. My hope is that by writing about my journey others might learn vicariously through my experience, and perhaps avoid cancering themselves. I don’t believe that all lessons must come from the school of hard knocks.
I plan on continuing to write, though probably to shift towards writing more about my efforts to gain habits of health and happiness. I have read and researched a lot about what healing is, and what can help prevent both primary occurrence and reoccurrence of cancering. Perhaps sharing what I am learning may benefit others.
I will likely still highlight some of the difficult bits of my recovery. Because what has been lost is very real, and perhaps others who are dancing a cancering tango of their own – breast or otherwise – may find some validation in my words.
Finally, I will write for myself. Writing has become a powerful spell, a means of changing myself. By writing about my experience I am able to validate for myself what feels true, and reinforce the new direction I am taking in my life. It is a tremendous tool for clarity. By sending my words out into the universe, I hold myself accountable to my commitments. If I start to feel wobbly in my resolve to embrace change or being more fully myself – I can reread what I have written, which feels very empowering. Brain research indicates that creating change requires repetition or practice, writing and rereading provides that.
After my last infusion it will take the usual few weeks for my body to process it. The difference is this time I won’t have another dose coming. As such I am hopeful that the fatigue that has been such a huge part of my life since 2009 will fade. My old habits of running myself into the ground are slowly dissolving, and the tools I have gained to make the most of what energy I am allotted, will continue to serve me regardless of what happens next.
I am not certain what direction my work life will take now. Relishing time with the boys, being more present for their education, is feeling really good. Getting my affairs in order in an effort towards living more lightly holds a lot of appeal. So perhaps my writing will become more about how to live with extreme thrift and simplicity. Even though I do have a certain soft focus clarity on my life, in this moment much mystery remains.
So stay tuned for the next adventures from the A.C.K. Team. (A.C.K. originally Stood for the Alderbrook Chemo Klinic – we are thinking now that it may stand for Alderbrook Conundrum Klinic.). Thank you for being part of this journey. Thank you for reading, and commenting, and for the many smiles and hugs about town. This is iris, your local love amplifier, signing off till next time.