Four years, four months, and fourteen days. [Queue Sinead]
Statistically speaking, he isn’t supposed to be here.
For much of the last year or so, I’ve lived in a state of survival. Life became segmented and cyclical, quite literally living from scan to scan. Holding my breath at each appointment, sighing out for ten weeks, and repeating again.
Every holiday, birthday, and milestone event bittersweet. Desperately trying to enjoy the moment, collect the memories, and set aside the sorrow.
Even when the treatments have been working, keeping the cancer stable or knocking it back a bit, I’ve lived within an ever-present uncertainty of tomorrow. Not the ‘anyone could get hit by a bus’ uncertainty. Rather, the unpredictability of living with a disease that can be so silent and yet so volatile. Lung cancer can quite literally change overnight, I’ve seen it happen to far too many.
Two significant events happened at the end of last year that created a shift. On the way to daycare one morning, I was feeling increasingly overwhelmed and stressed to the degree that if I could crawl out of my own skin, I would have. There was no triggering event, it’s just the way I felt…and it was happening on a regular basis. I became more agitated as I began to anticipate the usual morning whining and asks for snacks from the back seat. Instead, I heard singing. Finley sang for the rest of the car ride. I realized then that somewhere in all of this, I had gotten lost in the darkness of it all.
The other remarkable (more accurately, unremarkable) event? Remission. That’s right, Jeff’s doctor used the good ‘r’ word. Never in a million years (or 4 years) did we dream this would happen. For caregivers dealing constantly with our own turmoil of the illness, a time of self-realization and relief from active disease is a blessing like no other.
I feel like I can actively participate in life; a life I had, but lost sight of. I am engaged more than ever in advocacy, I joined a patient/caregiver advisory board with the American Lung Association and I spoke at my first lung cancer conference just last week. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for several years. I’m also going back to school to learn about IT (I’m the only ‘adult’ student and sole female in class, but I do love it) and I’m becoming more active in our community (say hello to the newest Lakeside Neighborhood Board member, baby!). Looking a bit further into the future, making plans that extend beyond a three month timeframe seems safer than it has in the past. I can even imagine us in Ireland, somewhere we’ve wanted to go together since we first met. And maybe we’ll buy a new house some day, or build one, or tackle a renovation together (not like hard labor or anything, just picking out the drawer pulls and light fixtures). The dreams are endless. Now that the fog has lifted.
Much love and much hope! xo!