As we sit here, several weeks post operation, I've had a copious amount of time to reflect on our journey. This journey has reminded me of many things about life and it has also taught me a few things as well. I'd like to tell you that our journey with cancer can be wrapped up, put in a pretty little box and set on a shelf, but that's just not the case. Our journey is far from over. In fact, I don't foresee our journey with cancer ever being truly over. We've learned of some new information that has lead us to do quite a lot of research, which in turn has caused a bit more worry. I'm certain at some point we might begin to let our guard down a little, but for now I've got my fighting gloves on. More on that later.
I've learned that when times are tough, I mean really bad. When you are in the trenches fighting the war, you have to let a few things go. I'm what most of you would consider a 'control freak.' I'm also what many of you would call slightly anal retentive or OCD. My mind works in weird ways and often plans out paths of greatest efficiency. I like to plan things and when things don't go as I have planned, I get crabby. I'm learning. I'm slowly learning that when life throws you a curveball, you might have to drop the reigns and let someone else pick them up for a while. So what if your in-laws folded your laundry and saw your post pregnancy, cesarean section recovery, oversized granny panties? So what if you found your clothes in your husband's closet and his in yours? So what if it meant that your baby ended up wearing a pair of your two-year-old's leggings because they were placed in the wrong drawer? So what if the dishwasher was loaded a little differently and you were unable to find a bowl or utensil because it was put away in the wrong cupboard? So what if your kid was fed candy, chocolate shakes, and carbohydrate filled meals for a few days? All these things sound like they are no big deal. You're right! I was given a big reminder to let things go. Let the small stuff go. I'm a work in progress.
I've learned that science is amazing and there are so many technological advances in the world of medicine. Robots, prosthetics, transplants, medications, testing, the list goes on. I've learned that there are some amazing doctors out there that are dedicated to helping cancer patients. I've learned that science can also be frustrating. In this day in age we (by we I mean I) expect to have a vast knowledge gleaned from research, especially when it comes to diseases and viruses and cancers that have been around for years. I've learned that's not necessarily the case. I've learned that science can be scary, especially when there is an unknown.
Eight years ago, I embarked on a trip. I traveled to 10 countries in 70 days. I visited the homes of people in remote locations, traveled to an orphanage, toured a holocaust concentration camp, walked dirty streets, and saw many parts of the world. Granted, I didn't even set foot in a third world country, but what I did see was eye opening. I vowed to myself after I returned from that trip to do several things. I wanted to be more adventurous, less judgmental, more helpful to others, and less of a faster/cheaper/better American. It reminded me to live life, not just be alive. As time passed, I let those memories fade. As a marriage and children often do (and should), they changed my focus. l've been reminded to live life to the fullest. I needed to reevaluate things and find a better balance. I need to walk a little closer on the line that crosses between throwing caution to the wind and reality.
I've known the word cancer for many years. If my memory serves me correctly, I can remember hearing the word when I was in fifth grade or so. My great grandpa was diagnosed with cancer and passed away from it. Of course, I didn't have a full understanding of what that meant at the time, but now I do. Now, I understand that cancer is everywhere. Cancer is changing the lives of thousands of people every day. Cancer is vicious and holds no remorse. Cancer comes when you least expect it. Cancer makes its mark not only on the victims it chooses, but also their families. I have learned to hate the word cancer and what it entails. I hate hearing of newly diagnosed soldiers, it tugs at my heart strings. One of Patrick's coworkers was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and will go for surgery in a week or so. I hate cancer. Two days ago, I learned of a couple who were both diagnosed with cancer, just 9 days apart (www.friendsofnathanandelisa.bloodspot.com). I hate cancer. When can we find a cure?
Our journey has been a great reminder of who is behind us, who will be there when things get tough, and who will hold our hands. We have a clear view of the family and friends that will call when we are so far down we don't think we can get up. We know who will stop by and drop off food, who will send encouraging words, who will lend a shoulder to cry on. We have a long list (not literally) of people who would come to help at any given moment. No questions asked. I have learned that I can call on people near and far and they will be there to help us. It's reassuring. It's love.