I mentioned before about sunshine and flowers. I wish I could say that I was the kind of person that found out they had cancer, and suddenly every day was magical, fueled by the miracle of life. I would like to be that girl that frolics in the sunny meadow, twirling around with her arms open as her beautiful size 2 Sundance Catalog skirt flows around her in the field of blooms. Where there is a theme song of glorious music, and it rains bacon. I don’t know why I wrote that part, because that is ridiculous. I just really like bacon.
My life is so full of irony that I couldn’t make this stuff up. Cub 2 literally just came in and asked if I would clean the barf off the bathroom floor. Yeah, I am so NOT that girl in the meadow. I’m also the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life except for pregnancy, and size 2 wouldn’t fit around my thigh. Strangely enough, I might be the most at peace with my body I have ever been (a lesson there — that is another post).
I want to be that girl… but nope. My kids still make me crazy (a lot), I still yell (maybe not quite as much, but still an awful lot), there are moments and even days that are NO PART of magical, and with this damn chemo-brain I forget stuff all the time. Seriously. ALL THE TIME. I’m also way less of an attentive mom, and somehow I think that girl in the meadow must be totally on top of everything going on with her kids – the same kids that didn’t leave a single stretch mark, I’m sure. The other morning, Cub 2 came downstairs to put shoes on for school and his mouth reeked. Seriously. Like something crawled in and died there. Very disturbing smell to emanate from a 7 year old. I’m like, “Seriously, child. You need to do some very dedicated tooth brushing RIGHT NOW. There is no way you can go to school smelling like that.” He says, “I don’t know where my toothbrush is. I’ve just been using the fluoride rinse.” WHAT?!?!?!? Turns out he hadn’t known where his toothbrush had been for FOUR DAYS. Yup. Four days of no teeth brushing. Let’s just say that the pre-cancer me would have been all over that. And even if I wasn’t, the pre-cancer me never would have publicly acknowledged it.
I did NOT take a break from writing this to address the vomit and Cub 2 just yelled at me again to PLEEEEEEEEASE CLEAN UP THE BARF! I’m so far away from the meadow now, I can’t even hear the theme song in distance.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are in the CC (Cancer Club – it’s exclusive and I hope you never get an invite) get deeper into their faith. Maybe that is part of where the sunshine and flowers come in for them. ‘Cuz I’ve sure read a lot of cancer blogs with an awful lot of meadow-dancers. I have complicated feelings about all that. I have always been a believer, but my Jewish family has never been the kind to knock on doors about it or shout it from the rooftops. My relationship to God and my faith has always been more private, more personal. That said, one of the most touching things to me through all this is people telling me they are praying for me. I intensely believe it works. Even if it doesn’t heal me, it gives me so much comfort.
(Now there is apparently a “GIANT” spider upstairs that my 2 brave boys are afraid to smash. SOOO much to comment on there, but I really do have to take a break now, as the kids are threatening to never go upstairs until the spider is gone… and bedtime is close and necessary. Mostly for this momma bear. I want to stay on topic, but I must tell you – there would NEVER be spiders in my meadow.)
[Big sigh. Okay back to the God thing. Do me a favor… have a glass of wine RIGHT NOW. Seriously. Sit there with it, and it will kinda be like I’m not drinking alone as I write this.]
I remember a time post-surgery when I only had the lung stamina to walk to the end of the street and back. My dad went for a short walk with me. I told him that I thought God had probably gotten REAL TIRED of how stubborn I had been. I was like, “You know… in hindsight, there were some signs that I was sick and needed to address it, and there were FOR SURE signs that I needed to get out of my marriage, so I think He just got fed up with me and was like “Oh for the love of ME, I guess I am going to have to just make this really clear!” (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, at some point I will have to get around to my whole story… just not there yet. Probably soon.) My dad looked at me. Then he said dryly, “I prefer to think He was just napping.”
We had a neighbor growing up that was apparently in REALLY good touch with God. I was like maybe 10 when she told me that God told her what to make every night for dinner. It occurred to me even then that if God had nothing better to do than plan that family’s meals, we were all in trouble. Then they got a new puppy and my mom told me later that they put it down because God told them to. I’m all for tolerance and believe it is the differences that makes our world go proverbially around, but I don’t think my God would tell me to kill puppies. Or give me cancer. I think sometimes bad things just happen. I think He had a really unusual way of making sure I found out about it in time to fight, but I do know He is with me.
So, what’s the lesson here? It’s this: Cancer has taught me that there are things that I just can’t control, and I have to just have faith, pure and simple. Cancer has helped me realize how much I love my (highly imperfect) life. I love my REAL life, and real life isn’t always sunshine and flowers. Far from it. So many people suffer, and I’m only now talking about right here, with relationships and kid stuff and money and illness… nevermind the grand suffering like famine and genocide going on in other parts of our world. Some of my friends are afraid now to tell me about what is going on in their lives, afraid that it somehow is insignificant in light of what I’m dealing with. That bugs me – I crave knowing what is going on and all of the real life things people are doing. I love being a facebook stalker (although that original title belongs to my mom.) Before cancer, I was much more invested in ‘being/seeming/doing everything/trying to look’ perfect. Now I think trying that hard just makes you sick. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. (Although I could do with less barf and spiders, and I’m quite sure the cubs could do with less yelling.)
It’s all about perspective. The statistic of a 5% survival rate is really commonly linked to stage 4 lung cancer. When I went to go see the specialist, he acknowledged that but also said that I had a “30 to 40% chance” of knocking it back enough and keeping it at bay so that I could make my goal – to see the cubs graduate high school. I was so excited! And, yes, perspective… if someone had ever said to me, “Look, you have a 60 to 70% chance of being smote down when you walk out your door” I would NEVER leave my house. Yup. Perspective. Because I will take that 30 to 40 percent, and I will RUN with it. Maybe even through a meadow.
And, hey cancer??? FUCK YOU.