Slow & Steady
How I’m doing right now is a hard question to answer. The short answer is: Better. I’m taking care of myself. I have more energy. I’m starting to feel grounded. My new website is done, the new business cards just arrived, and our home is unpacked and clean enough to show off in every room. I just had 6 photography clients in 3 weeks and I’ve finished and mailed discs to 5 of them already. I’ve been meeting more and more local artists and models. I start a new part-time job in two weeks that I’ve been looking forward to. I learned in therapy that I’m more afraid of success than I am of failure. Life is better.
But “better” after chemotherapy, doesn’t need to be that much. Feeling “better” after chemo can still mean bad. I have dreams that the cancer has returned almost every night. That’s not all I dream about, but it shows up frequently. When I wake up after one of these dreams I feel for the lump I had in my dream, and it isn’t there. I feel relieved, obviously because it wasn’t real, but also because these dreams remind me of the dreams I’ve had during other transitions in the past. When I was first dating my husband, I would have dreams that he would decide he hated me, or that we had never met and he didn’t know who I was. I think these dreams are a sign that what fear I have is only an echo, and it’s source is no longer a threat. If I was to trust intuitively what my body is telling me right now, it sounds something like, “The cancer is gone, but the healing process is still near the beginning.”
The moments after cancer are not easy. It feels like people (including myself) expect things to be a bit more black and white than they are right now. The cancer is gone, and that should be enough to make me feel overjoyed and return to living life to the fullest. More accurately, it feels similar to the loss of a loved one. For lack of better words, I’m still mourning the loss of myself. I’m enjoying the new me about as much as someone would enjoy a new kitten right after having lost a cat they had grown up with. I like the new me. I like her a lot. But I can’t help but look at her with sad eyes and a heavy heart.