So, today, all last-minute test results being well, I start a combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy regime. I cannot say that it is something I am looking forward to starting exactly, but as the alternative is to sit here and wither quietly away… quite literally… let’s just bring it on.
For the next three days they will pump in poisons designed to attack the cancer and drugs designed to convince my own immune system to do something about the cancer cells filling my lungs. I rather like that idea… and I hope my immune system does too.
Meanwhile, my handbag probably needs a police escort as it is full of the controlled drugs I now have to carry. My shoulders ache from the oxygen tanks I also have to carry. And, every so often, my heart aches for all the things still undone and unsaid… but that is not somewhere you dare go when you need to function…
I will, I am told, be ill and worse before I am better. If it works. I will lose weight and yet I must eat… a dieter’s heaven! Except that everything already tastes very wrong and will, apparently, also get worse. In fact, I am being told a lot of things… many of them contradictory… and the truth is that I will know nothing at all until I am on the other side of whatever comes.
Except that I probably will lose the hair… everyone seems to agree on that.
And it is all very strange. Because you cannot pretend that none of this is happening. It affects absolutely every corner of your life. Yet you are not the disease that has you in its grip either. You are still you, functioning, living and breathing… mostly… and yet wearing this invisible aura that seems to touch all those you love until you can see the hurt in their eyes.
The hardest part seems, at this stage, to remember whose life this is and why you might want to prolong it, given everything you are about to ask your ailing body to go through. And then two little girls come around to stalk the unicorns that live in your back garden, but whose horns and magical wings can only be seen by moon and starlight…
And you worry, about how you are going to cope, about being a burden on those who love you enough to be there for whatever comes, knowing they are ready to pick up the pieces when you break and hug them back together again.
Then you read the emails and messages that have come in… beautiful, simple expressions of love and friendship. Messages full of determination from the healers who hold you in their hearts. The messages of the small doings of every day that remind you that it is the little things that make life so worth living… (especially when they cut a first tooth).
And sometimes, you see the pride in your sons’ eyes when they read that in the eyes of others, maybe you made a difference… and that makes all the difference to them. You see their backs straighten and their eyes smile.
Then they can say that maybe it isn’t so bad, this knowing, because it makes sure we have time to say the things that need to be said… and to share what should be shared.
And that when it comes down to it, no matter how it is expressed… from friendship and caring, from hunting backyard unicorns to choosing to walk into the maw of hell, the only thing that really matters is love.