Two weeks after my last post — seven months ago — I was diagnosed with a chronic, no current cure, cancer. To say I fell into a deep dark abyss is an understatement, and it is only the last couple of weeks that I feel I have got back to my pre-diagnosis state. As I am a nurse, I had pretty much self-diagnosed myself after an abnormal blood test, but had to wait over the Christmas and New Year period for the docs to get back to work and tell me my fate. Of course, reading up about something you may or may not have, is as scary as hell, and somehow your eyes and brain only see and compute the bad news and not the good. Yes, this is a life-limiting disease, but all going well I will be around for another 20 years if I have any say in the matter.
Honestly, I have had some very dark days which I spent curled up in bed thinking about all the things I might not get to do if I don’t exceed ‘average,’ regarding longevity. While I am normally a very private person and few people get to ‘know’ me, I had a compelling desire to tell people, especially my students, so I didn’t have to ‘fake it till I made it.’ I could be honest in my ability — or inability — to cope with my frequent trips to the hospital and starting chemo. Yes, quite a selfish position drove this disclosure, but the stories it allowed students to share with me, as a result, were truly inspirational and helped my recovery and helped draw me out of my cave.
Of course, one of the major thoughts that went around and around in my head was the fact that I might die and leave no lasting legacy to prove I was ever here. I know this sounds dramatic, but for a few weeks, it became all-consuming. What if I didn’t get to write my books and people — read family — forgot me. I talked myself into believing that if they could see my books on the bookshelf or received royalty cheques, they would be reminded of me. As I ventured out of my cave for longer periods, getting over the shock of the diagnosis, a sense of sanity returned, and I began to appreciate that I was one of the ‘lucky ones.’ Many people don’t get (hopefully) 20 years notice of their mortality. Of course, any one of us could die tomorrow in an accident. Yes, sanity was returning, and in the meantime, my book was sitting here on the computer destined never to be written unless I snapped out of this funk, got my feet planted under the desk, and started writing.
I know I should be able to remember how, but I don’t, but about six weeks ago I came across Jessica Lourey’s non-fiction book, Rewrite your life, and the accompanying workbook, Better than gin. Rewrite your life, changed something in me and was a powerful influencer in getting my bedraggled self out of the cave and Better than gin helped me reconnect with my creative self. In this frame of mind, I allowed other voices around me — namely my husband and a couple of close friends — to penetrate the fog in my brain and remind me that life needed to be cherished and experienced to the full.
If your best-laid plans go awry, have faith that somewhere along the track you will find the strength, time, motivation, or something that will get those clogs turning once again, and you will get back to being the person you are meant to be.
Cheers to staying out of the cave.