To all you wonderful companions:
I took myself to task last night. I asked myself how I intended to live the rest of my life. Am I going to be full of fear, or full of hope? I’m on a journey, a journey I’m sharing with God and with all of you, and I’ve reached a fork in the road. I’ve got to decide which way to proceed. I’ve got to make a choice.
It seems to me that I’ve been chugging along on ‘Fear Avenue’ since my surgery in July. I’ve been pouring anxiety into my body, and into my posts. Surely, you’ve noticed!
Now, the way I figure it, up until now I haven’t had a choice. Who in my position would have been able to do any better? All this time I’ve been reeling from the shock of discovering I’m harboring a tumor in my brain. Believe me, a piece of news like that takes some getting used to! Have you ever heard someone say they felt as if the ground beneath them had given way? That’s how I feel. Trauma is not too strong a word to describe the effect this cancer news has had on me. I’ve been living minute to minute, never knowing what awful surprise is just around the corner.
Later this week, on Thursday to be exact, Dr. Lee is going to read my MRI and let us know whether my tumor has grown during the time of my treatment since surgery. Every minute of every day has been rooted in the fear that the cancer is growing, that a new tumor is developing, that this horrible, aggressive cancer is behaving, well, aggressively.
Every once in a while, though, the fear lets up and I get a glimpse of what hope looks like. When I’m able to hope, I’m able to imagine a brain free of cancer. I want to be cancer free. I want to be cancer free! Damn it, I want to be cancer free!!! Anyone who believes in the mind-body connection knows that attitude is a big factor in healing. If I want to be cancer free I’ve got to choose hope. I have been scared — in fact, in one way or another, I’ve been scared all my life; but that doesn’t mean I have to stay scared. Fear doesn’t have to be my BFF. I can be hopeful. I will be hopeful.
Dr. Johnson came to visit me the day after my surgery and the first thing I said to him was, “Don’t give me a prognosis. Just give me hope.” That’s how I felt then, and that’s how I feel now. I don’t have control over this cancer and, truly, neither do the doctors. We all have to relinquish the illusion of control, and letting go is the hardest thing in the world — it certainly is for me.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I have no way of knowing what the future holds — nor do any of us. What good is a prognosis? Hope, on the other hand, is something real. It’s something I can see in my mind’s eye. I can see my daughter graduate from college. I can see good times with friends and family. I can see my marriage unfolding day after day and opening us both to love and respect. That’s hope, and hope is real — it’s just as real as the fear had been, but it’s up to me to choose.
For the past three months fear has stopped me from being who I am. I’ve kept myself back from friends I miss terribly; but I’ve stopped holding myself back. I’ve chosen to start accepting invitations. That’s my way of choosing hope. For three months I’ve kept myself from going into a grocery store, or laughing, or entertaining. But I don’t have to keep holding back. I can choose hope. I will choose hope!
My last few posts have been all about exposing my fear. It frightened me to learn that my life is out of my hands. It’s taken a while, but now I can accept the fact that I don’t control the future, that I never could. All I have is today. Today I can choose to hope for a life of joy, or I can live in dread of what might happen. Today I’ve chosen hope. Hope so that I can love and live and laugh. Hope so that I can be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.
Thank you for all being so tolerant of my bleak and fearful blogs in the past. I am grateful to all of you. You’ve given me love, support, kindness and generosity well beyond my merits. You deserve better than fear, though, and so do I. Please keep us in your prayers for Thursday; but whatever the outcome is I’m going to accept it and live this life with hope because this is the only life I have.