Cancer is boring.
That came as something of a surprise to me. After the weeks of diagnosis and treatment plans and financial struggle and confusion and sickness and stress, suddenly there was an end to the frantic activity and the anxious waiting and the terror and the acute anxiety.
Without warning or preamble, cancer became the new normal.
I am not sure how it happened. I’m not even quite sure when it happened, though I think it was when she started improving after her first chemo cycle and started eating food again and having energy and being the woman I love instead of the woman I love dreadfully incapacitated by illness and drugs. Somewhere in there I saw the end of the first chemo cycle, and the future became clearer. For the second chemo cycle we will know more what to expect. We will have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do, a better estimate of how far her strength can take her, and be better prepared for the difficulties of chemo such as nausea and lack of appetite. We can start scheduling things for the times when she is strong and planning for the times she is weak. I can plan games and other activities for her chemo sessions. Much that was unknown three weeks ago is known now. And with that knowing, fear recedes.
Of course she can manage it: she’s strong and brave. But I can manage it too. I can be a caregiver, I can be a supporter, I can rally others to her aid. Monkey brain can be controlled. The little whispering voice, while never silent, can be set aside long enough to get things done and be useful. Strength CAN be found.
I know because I found it.
Not that I am kidding myself that it’s all going to be smooth from here. There will be setbacks and trials and stress. There will be sleepless nights and there will be exhausting days. There will be the heartbreak of watching over her when she is sick and weak and ravaged by drugs. Things stretch off into the future – the chemo, the surgery, the hormone therapy, the eventual outcome. We are at the very beginning of a long and uncertain road. But not every day will be bad. Not every outcome will be negative. Not every emotion will be sorrow or fear. There is still room in our shared life for the positive, the fun, the enjoyable. There is quality aplenty still to be had.
Flowers still bloom, even when it is raining.