“This too will pass” has been a phrase rattling around in my brain for ages – in fact every time I have felt, or do feel, miserable about yet another event in my life or the effects of my treatment, it makes itself heard. My whole reason for starting to blog about the cancer journey was so that I could have a record of how it felt to be me as I travelled it, because my memory alone would not be reliable.
I occasionally used to be aware of days that felt like weeks and others that passed in a few hours, but in the past few months this time-disconnection has been so exaggerated. Perception of time has been more weird than usual since August 2015 when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. That month was the worst, because it was after diagnosis but prior to surgery in mid September, and waiting for appointments or results seemed excruciatingly slow.
The rest of September and beginning of October wasn’t too bad while I coped with all the trauma of the operation whoospie which resulted in further surgeries and complications, but the latter part of October and early November dragged again until I started chemotherapy. The period from mid November to mid April was even weirder because during each chemo cycle the time was stretched out, yet the six of them seemed to have passed quite quickly once they were finished, despite a hospital admission delaying the final one. I moved to live with my partner in September and started getting my own flat ready to be rented out – this lasted until March. Admittedly it perhaps wasn’t the least stressful thing to do while having cancer surgery and chemotherapy but was necessary all the same – I don’t think I could have coped if I had still been living alone.
Through all those months, whenever I was lying there hating the kidney drain, or sitting watching poison being dripped into my veins, or feeling as though every ounce of energy had deserted me, or seeing every hair on my body disappear, or being driven scatty with issues in my flat, I kept telling myself “This too will pass” and it did. Since mid April time has rocketed by, and this week I had my three month check since the last chemo. I could hardly believe it had been that long.
Undergoing the treatment didn’t stop my activities although it did curtail them a bit. In February and April I organised and administered one-act drama festivals but I didn’t start back volunteering at The Scottish Community Drama National Script Library until May. In December I finally got around to getting two children’s stories I had written many years ago on Kindle, then this last week also published them as hard copies. I used to design my own knitting patterns but hadn’t knitted for 20 years, however, last week I started to learning to crochet and this week have been making a jacket in rainbow-coloured wool to my own pattern (how successfully is so far unknown!) My partner has re-kindled his model railway plans after 15 years so I have been lined up to help with modelling the scenery – another totally new project to add to the great tapestry of life.
At this moment in time – the day before my 69th birthday – I do occasionally have a crash of energy, I still get frustrated by my toes paining, my eyes spontaneously weeping or my peeing bloodied urine, but I console myself knowing it is temporary. My hair is growing back, my energy levels are much better, and the chemo-brain business has stopped (still have senior moments but it’s different to chemo-brain). I still have at least one more surgery to go through and there continues to be uncertainty about how successfully my damaged uterer will have been mended, but it will all be over soon. Although my perception of ‘soon’ might be different from one day to the next, I know all I have to do is to hang on in there and let the time-perception-distortion machine do its trick.
Above all, distorted as my perception of time might be, I am grateful to have plenty of it spreading out before me. Others on the cancer journey have not been so lucky.