Cancer’s a game changer but I’ve still got game

2013 was supposed to be the summer I got a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. My goal was to enroll part-time while working. Instead of university studies, my 2010, 2011, and 2012 paralleled which body part was being assaulted, and I had only medical, laboratory and radiological studies instead of literature. Here’s how that went:

2010 was the summer of breasts and lymph nodes.

2011 was the summer of exhaustion and paralyzing fear.

2012 was the summer of brain fog and confusion.

Now I’m aiming for 2013 to be the summer of love and publishing.

2010 was a game changer, a kicking where I couldn’t put a face on my abuser. Cancer has no face. It beat me up from the inside out. I couldn’t dash out the door or turn off the computer to escape. It wasn’t lurking around the corner for me; it skulked and stalked inside me, bidding time, looking for vulnerable places to root, grow and kill. It’s a bully that doesn’t mature in a good way.

Summer 2011 crawled over me like a bulldozer and I crawled through it. For months I dragged myself to work five days a week, cried throughout my walk home, and was catatonic with anxiety about cancer’s return during the hours in between going and coming. My words were insensible, my thoughts a muddle, and my work substandard. If I wasn’t in bed before 8 PM cancer looked for a comfy place to plant. I panicked if I got stressed or overtired because those were cancer’s nectar and ambrosia. Eating was a series of fretful decisions about what would or wouldn’t feed me, and wouldn’t or would feed cancer.

Somehow, I got to spring 2012 before I screamed for help. After three health care professionals recommended I temporarily lay off work (the fourth suggested I quit and find my bliss elsewhere) I caved in and took a leave of absence from my dream job, starting 1st April 2012.

The summer of 2012 was a game changer. The leave of absence meant I finally had enough rest, time to meditate, exercise to get back to my normal self, and enough recovery from brain fog to enjoy people. I went weeks without crying or paralysis. I read simple novels and wrote again, listened to the radio without overstimulation from endless words I couldn’t follow.

I still feel the old bleakness when Decker wants me to linger in nature when I’m hungry for a meal, or to stay with him because he’s having a good time, or to have some food because it has only a bit of a forbidden ingredient. Then, I hear the dire voice whisper, ‘does he care if I live or die?’ Or, ‘when they tell me the cancer’s back and I have four months to live it’s a little late to wish I’d gotten more rest, exercise, and eaten better!’

Where last year I had hysterical meltdowns, now I tell Decker: ‘No, I’m hungry and I have to eat before my insulin spikes and the cancer comes back.’ and, ‘No, I’m glad you’re having a nice time but I’m going to rest before the cancer comes back.’ and ‘No, that food will feed mutations so the cancer comes back.’ Yes, I’ll be rigid for the next six years I’m most at risk so that I can live to enjoy other pleasant evenings with you in years to come.’

Now, when the voice of anxiety about recurrence whispers I hush it. The thoughts come and I have enough resiliency to cope. I whisper back. ‘I’m doing all I can to stay in remission. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with. In the meantime, I have a future to live and a grandson whose wedding I plan to dance at.’

Somehow, I’ll get something creative written for the summer of 2013 because it’s my summer of love. That’s how I intend to change this cancer – with love.

Enjoy the images. What are your plans for 2013?

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