I have learned a lot of lessons since being diagnosed with cancer four months ago. Things that some people don’t learn until they are several decades into life. There is one lesson however that I’ve come to realize I am having a hard time to learn and has to do with time.
You see, when I began chemotherapy three months ago, there was talk of the possibility of my not doing the whole six months of chemo. Hodgkins responds very well to chemo, as proved after my first treatment when all my cancer symptoms vanished immediately.
But after meeting with my oncologist last week, I learned that the mass in my chest was just too large to be blasted out so quickly. I’ll have to do the full six months, with an additional six weeks of radiation still up in the air.
So at this point, that is only three more months of chemo. Maybe several weeks of radiation. To people looking in on the outside, that probably seems totally doable. To me however, the person who has to deal with the effects of these treatments and cancer every minute of my life, it’s an eternity.
I was talking about this with my dad, who was trying to convince me that in the grand scheme of things, being out of commission for 8 or so months of my life with this cancer thing isn’t that long. In my mind I started trying to do the math on what percentage 8 months of my 25 years is, compared to 8 months of his 57 years. I couldn’t come up with an answer, apart from the fact that it’s a lot longer duration for someone my age compared to someone his age.
My point being is that cancer will make a person grow up a lot, but there are some things that I can only learn with time. More specifically in this case, how to deal with time itself.
I would have never previously labelled myself as an impatient person. In fact, my rare patience is something I valued. But these days, as each treatment, each day, each minute spent being sick drags on, I feel my patience being tested. Time is always looming over me, whether it be the day I’m declared cancer-free, or the day I’m told the cancer has come back. Neither of which of course can be revealed until due time.
These days when I get upset and frustrated over what is happening, it’s not the “why me?” it used to be. It’s the “I want this to be over NOW” foot-stamping temper tantrums. I am so ready for this to be over, but time just isn’t moving fast enough for me.
As I feel worse with each passing day, the following day stretches out into something that feels longer. Three months can pass in a flash when you’re having fun, but it slows to a snail’s pace when you’re grasping to find the energy just to get through it.
I know this is an honest and perhaps depressing post for a Monday, but it’s a very real reflection of something not only I as a cancer patient struggle with, but I think anyone who is sick or injured struggles with.
If anything, let it be a reminder that not everything is “over before you know it.” Because living through some things often gets very real, very gruelling, and very hard. That is assuming of course it is ever over. My cancer may come back. I still can’t straighten my injured left arm. And apparently, I’m still not very good at mental math.