As we proceed through the passages of life, there are certainly opportunities for change along the way. However, many of us do all we can to keep things constant, especially when it is often too great a task to determine where we fit in and how best to adapt.
Similarly, life changes affect the many roles we experience. To name a few, I currently find myself in the role of wife and mother, grandmother, a citizen of a community of professionals and neighbors, participant in a faith community, guardian to the environment sometimes a benefactor.
The role of cancer
As a woman diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, several new roles present themselves and occupy my time and attention. Suddenly I find myself encompassed in the world of doctors and treatments which overwhelm my daily life.
Truthfully, I dreamed of much-deserved time with my husband and family. I hoped the most challenging task would be dinner plans or travel arrangements. I was not ready to end my professional involvement and thought about a renewed devotion to our local community. Yet, instead of entering retirement with the grace and joy anticipated, I am fighting for my life.
As a result, I often feel tricked and cheated. My bubble burst rather quickly when I realized that I am so dependent on the good graces of others. With my post-chemo "darkness" lasting as long as twenty-one days a month, the best I can do is to look for the few days where I can recognize I am still present.
My husband shared, "I feel as though I already lost you." Upon awakening, I never know which person I would find. Will you be the joyful soul I am used to or the person struggling with even the basics of staying awake?
Author James Balwin states: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
Although it took some time, I am effectively embracing change and looking for ways to incorporate who I am. When being honest with myself, this new awareness is a gift. You see, life doesn't go on forever. It needs to be cherished, and I need to use it wisely.
Truthfully we need to be intentional in our effort to live every moment. But, even more, important to me, as the eternal control freak, I need to be the architect of the design of my life ahead.
Let's not waste a moment
We began this week by having very frank discussions about the awareness of anger in our couple's relationship. I realize that, while painful, anger can be a coping method. I reminded my husband that his "frustration" about our circumstance has a way of pushing me further away before "death do us part." We needed to clear the air, and it immediately helped.
It's also time to face treatment decisions. When PET scans demonstrate more cancer involvement, I quickly sign up for another round of chemotherapy. By acting in this manner, I am hopefully keeping death further away. However, I have to ask at what cost. In the long run, it deprives my family and me of time together. Life may be shorter than for most and therefore becomes more precious.
Acknowledging it is a privilege, I can decide how to spend the rest of my time on earth. I am more and more inclined that I want to be present to the people I love and those I hope to serve. I believe knowledge is to be shared to be a help to others. Also, I think that God's hand is present in my thoughts and words and in everything I do.
I pray that we all receive the guidance and wisdom to embrace change and effectively live our lives to give you each the greatest joy.
Have you taken our Advanced Ovarian Cancer In America Survey yet?