I’ve sat at the kitchen table off and on for the past five hours, busying myself on the laptop and only getting up for an occasional light fit of tidying or marking things on the calendar. I’ve even managed to get dressed today and put some make-up on but the truth is I don’t know what to do with all the time stretching before me.
It’s too soon after the event to say I have depression, and the short space of time between where I am today and being told treatment was done affords me the dignity of ‘processing’ rather than being given a mental health label.
How would you envisage life after treatment? Do you think of smiles and the overriding feeling of success and hope? I did. I’ve even felt like that at times throughout the journey and began making plans. The trouble is, I wasn’t ready. I was pootling along in my new norm, going to appointments and resting in-between. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit so by now it’s become a way of life to be ill, looked after, checked in on.
Those pipe dream plans I was making have lost their lustre now I can do them, and anything else I might choose, and even though I was ratty and cantankerous, I miss my family coming in and If I’m honest, I miss that feeling of being the baby of the family again.
Now it’s time to be a grown-up, to once again organise a home and take responsibility, to find a job and more than anything else, find my place in the world. The past two days I have spent willing the phone to ring, the hours to tick by until some social interaction and I realise now how much my life before The Cancer was about my children. I don’t mean this in regards to how I love them but how they were literally my whole life and I went into a suspended animation when they went to their other home.
I have no idea how to begin this fresh start of mine. Please don’t see this as ingratitude, I am not wishing the outcome were any different, It’s more a case of letting you in on the shock of It after spending so long thinking I wouldn’t be here, it’s the pressure of knowing I really need to make life count now when I really want to comfort eat and lie under a blanket until such a time as I feel ready.
I suppose it’s also that the treatment is done, the cancer is gone but the effects are still here. I’m still bald, I still have no eyelashes, I still, as our newsagent reminded me today ‘have put the weight on’, I will continue to be in a chemically induced menopause for the next 18 months with no guarantees that part of life will return to normal after the injections stop.
My confidence which was shaky at the best of times before cancer took hold has all but gone. There’s nothing to stop me now for applying for a job. Nothing that is except my thoughts and feelings.
As for dating? I’m doubtful I’ll be top of anyone’s pile after this. On a superficial level, treatment has aged me. On a deeper level, cancer has changed me.
Even as I type all of this it doesn’t escape me how it could anger some people who may think I’m being self-indulgent after such good news. I don’t have anything in response for you except to say I am sorry. I wish I felt lighter and was blazing a trail. I think, if I’m honest, I half expected to find myself on a path after this where I could think ‘ah, I see,’ as though the cancer had all been part of a much bigger plan.
Yet here I am, looking around the house, checking in on Facebook, refusing to turn on the telly during the day, not knowing what to do next and fearful I’ll waste my fresh start.