This picture more than anything else sums up my current status. I really did start the week with a big box of patience, but I can see that all I have left are the grainy bits at the bottom. You know when you are waiting and waiting for something and it never seems to arrive? That.
My impatience is not directed solely at the waiting time to see my Oncologist, in fact this week I feel we’ve had a trial run for the side effects of Tamoxifen even before I’ve started it. I can feel myself becoming disproportionately irritated by things, simple stuff that I would typically take in my stride but this week has been harder to gain perspective and get a grip. I simply can’t wait to add the potential fatigue into the mix from Radiotherapy and my world (and Steve’s) will be complete!
The hump of the week- Wednesday however was not irritating at all. I spent it with a lovely friend Anne in Birmingham, wandering around the city looking at the architecture, lunching, mooching, catching a canal boat trip and then heading home. Our conversations were rich and diverse covering issues such as grief, emotional resilience, counselling, enmeshed relationships and Alexander McQueen’s exhibition at the V & A all washed down with a carafe of chilled Sauvignon. That was a good day even though some of our conversations were deep and harrowing. I’ve known Anne for a long time and she’s one of those wonderfully aligned people who knows just what to say and what to talk about when. She sent me this image at the end of the day suggesting that the sentiment fitted the bill. She’s spot on as usual. (Sorry for the F word Mum x)
The other thought process that is starting to raise its head this week is that of holidays, adventures and life out there. I feel that I’m currently surrounded by people who have either just got back from holiday, are on holiday, are going on holiday soon or about to launch into new ventures and exciting projects. I’m genuinely pleased for them all and yet I can’t help but feel like the kid who is left out of the netball team which is totally pathetic, but there it is. I’m putting that out there. I genuinely don’t mean to sound self-pitying but I know that I do!
I’m aware that there is an ebb and flow to support structures when you are going through some sort of challenge in your life. At the start you are flooded with messages, cards, offers of help and the suchlike and then it (understandably) ebbs away. This week I’ve had visits, flower deliveries, cards and messages all of which are beautiful. I love them. But what people forget I’m realising, is that even though you appear to look ok on the outside you still feel vulnerable and in need of acknowledgment from the world out there, perhaps in particular from those you’ve either not heard from at all, or not for a while. It’s not about creating a guilt-fest but still feeling that you matter and that you belong in that world, the one you inhabited before all of this.
Many of you know that some years ago I was a volunteer at our local hospice and during the training sessions we explored support structures for cancer and terminally ill patients. On one occasion the Volunteer Manager said ‘Don’t think that just because someone has cancer that their family, friends and acquaintances suddenly become the most caring and supportive people in the world’ and I remember being appalled at that statement. I couldn’t (or didn’t want to?) believe that human nature couldn’t reframe itself to demonstrate care over a prologed period of time. Of course, she was right and I was not exactly right either. People are people. They have their own domains to inhabit. Many forums and websites talk about this ebb and flow in terms of contact with people and their advice is that it’s not personal, but it’s hard when you’re feeling even slightly despondent not to take it as such.
<pass her the tissues someone; increased self-pity alert. Jeez>
So back to holidays. The vague plan at the moment is that a holiday might occur at the end of treatment. But where? Ideally somewhere calm, quiet, relaxing and a place to regroup. The typical filters that apply to deciding where this might be will unfortunately be determined not by where we want to go but where we can go as travel insurance is as I’ve said before, a little tricky. Some countries definitely don’t want you and others are happy to have you but you’re on your own mate if anything should happen. Not exactly the most relaxing context, but hey live a little. You won’t get out alive.
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, take time to contact someone you’ve been meaning to for a while who might be lifted by your message.