Everyone has a cross to bear. I said this to my aunt the other day. Mine just happens to be breast cancer. For others it may be the struggle to get pregnant or have children… Having your marriage or partnership consumed by years of fertility treatments… Miscarriages… Disappointment… Then there’s others who are stuck in toxic relationships… Caught up in never ending family feuds… Or surrounded by people who are not supportive or loving…
We all have something we are stuck with. Some troubling aspect of our lives that we must accept. And while it’s super easy to allow the difficulties in life to become our life, it is so important for me to not to let myself go there.
Sometimes I think about the massive role breast cancer plays in my life and how it will be a part of my life for many, many years to come. From the food I put in my mouth… To my inability to make long-term commitments… To the ways I choose to spend my days… Having metastatic breast cancer means I will forever be getting scanned, examined, poked, and prodded. Spending time at appointments, getting treatment, doing research, and finding new ways to stay alive. Every ache and pain I have is a potential disaster. Is it the cancer coming back? Growing? Spreading? Or did I just sleep wrong? Plus, the endless side effects I now live with – my cracking, fragile fingers that often hurt to touch, let alone perform any of the daily tasks I’m used to performing without a second thought… Or the side effect of becoming menopausal at 37 years old with hot flashes every other hour… Or having my heart checked every 3 months because the meds I’m on can cause severe heart damage. Oh joy!
But this is my cross to bear. I have breast cancer. I will always be a breast cancer patient. Even when I’m given the stamp of NED (no evidence of disease) – notice i said “when” and not “if” – Even then, I will still have to get scanned and examined on the regular. I will still live with the fear that the cancer may come back. I will still question each and every ache and pain and worry it’s cancer.
Right now I’m still awaiting the results of New York’s assessment of my scans from December. I should know something by the end of this week or early next week. I feel surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I’m not having the usual ‘test anxiety’. But maybe that’s because in my heart of hearts I really believe that NY isn’t gonna find anything different than Ohio did.
This is my cross to bear. It is what it is. And who’s to say one person’s cross is worse than another person’s? Every cross is different. And they are all difficult. They all suck. They all bring pain. And yet, our crosses can also force us to ask big questions, re-evaluate priorities, and make a commitment to living a fuller life. Amidst the turmoil we can try to make peace with our crosses. Figure out why that particular cross is ours to bear in the first place. Understand the lessons contained in the suffering. And use it all as an opportunity to grow, learn, and discover who we truly are.
To all those out there with a cross to bear, I feel your pain. We’re all in this together. As my dad, author Spider Robinson, and many of you have said, “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy, increased.” So let’s all keep sharing.
Peace. – T