I don’t mean any disrespect when I write – It’s just the circle of life. It’s more of a factual statement than one which diminishes the emotion of birth to death. As humans, we have experienced our own birth and someday we will experience our own death. We may even experience by proxy, the death of friends, family and loved ones. As women, we may even experience the gift of giving birth.
As a breast cancer survivor, I have experienced the thought of death as well. Perhaps it’s not just those of us with illnesses that know the darkness that shrouds the fear at death’s door. But it becomes a rite of passage when we are diagnosed with a disease which is a known killer. It’s how we deal with that threat that the disease can take our lives which varies, person to person.
There’s no right way to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis and each of us who have heard those words, ‘you have cancer’ can attest to the fact that our lives completely change in a moment. Forevermore we live with the threat that it won’t be cured or that it will return with a vengeance. We fear the cancer, the treatment and the cloud that perpetually hangs back, in our peripheral view for the rest of our lives. We mourn the loss of good health that we once had. We crumble in the dark late at night fearing the worst, yet hoping for the best, making promises to the Universe or to God with pleas for strength, for one more day, for a cure, for peace.
We endure pain in order to be cured, yet the psyche many times does not ever find peace again to heal our spiritual self. I have seen people who have become broken shells of their former selves after a diagnosis, never to fully regain the momentum of life afterwards for the fear of the cancer returning never leaves us. Even if we put it in the back of our minds or try to totally erase it from our view, its specter awaits, lurking for the next lump’s arrival, the next battery of tests that are not within normal range, the next procedure to investigate some abnormality in the body. It doesn’t really ever end.
I am coming up on 16 years since I was diagnosed and I can attest that it never ends. Sure, we can go on merrily with our lives, hoping our happy-go-lucky charade continues to not provoke questions from others as to our health status. We can cry at night when things aren’t good, but nobody understands this unless you have endured it. We can be strong when needed and mask our fears to the masses. After awhile, we even believe ourselves until something happens to knock us off-kilter and wham, we are back again in the throes of fear and wondering if the circle of life is at its end.
I understand dear friends. I truly do. Even the word remission is not a peaceful feeling as it only masks the tingling sensation of peace for the moment and the trembling fear of if/when the other shoe will drop again.
I don’t know why I am writing this post today. It seems to be flowing out of me at a supersonic speed. My fingers type so quickly and yet I am not sure if I am even making sense. I’ve had many scares over the years. Tumor markers which are higher than normal, lumps that have to be biopsied, scary tests to endure all while knowing that could be in store. Crying in the night or during the day when nobody’s home. Feeling the whoosh of relief when the doctor proclaims it’s ok for now. Reliving the nightmares of past experiences knowing I’m on my own. It’s hard, but we can live through the experience and keep going. That’s the common denominator really. Keep waking up to a new day. Nightfall is hardest I know – that dead of night overwhelming feeling which is only diminished by sleep. And the realization as dawn comes that we must face the reality in our situation. I’m here for you. I have been there and I feel blessed that I am still here to walk with you when you need a friend.
The circle of life begins and ends in a momentous way – birth and death – bringing the light of our souls into the world and then allowing the extinguishing of our soul light to be free.
P.S. I’m fine, so no worries. I don’t know why this post wrote itself today, but it did. xo