Not Wasting Any Time

Every once and a while I go online and Google “stage 4 metastatic breast cancer blogs” – and see what comes up.  Tonight I was re-introduced to the blog of a young Boston woman – Bridget Spence.  She was diagnosed at age 21 with stage 4 breast cancer right out of the gate – just like me.  And her blog My Big Girl Pants is fantastic!  Her writing is fresh and real.  And whatever she’s doing is working cuz she’s still here 7 years later.

Reading other Stage 4 breast cancer blogs is always a mixed bag for me.  Part of me really loves the sense of understanding and reassurance I get from reading others’ stories.  It’s nice to know you’re not alone.  But the other part hates the reminder of how much this is going to suck, that the road is long (Bridget has had 8 different surgeries!), and the fact that having breast cancer will never completely go away.

It seems for most stage 4 ladies, the cancer comes in waves.  It pushes up onto the shore and then it retreats.  Even if I am given the “NED” (no evidence of disease) stamp after surgery I will always be aware that cancer is hanging out on the sidelines just waiting to get back in the game again.

Just like Bridget, I live my life in 3-4 month increments.  Making plans but never knowing if I’ll be able to keep them.  Doing things when I feel good and trying to lay low when I don’t.  Silently in my head thinking about how much time I have left…  Do I need to take that trip to India now?  Or can it wait a few years?  Do I need to keep wearing anti-aging cream?  Should I keep saving for retirement?  Or cash in my 401K?

Of course there is no way to know how my life will play out.  No way for any of us to know.

A few nights ago hubby opened up about how sad he is.  Sad that our lives are forever changed.  Sad that I have to go through surgery and be in pain.  Sad at the thought that Miss M might lose her mom.

Of course I’m sad too.  But I’ve gotten really good at detaching myself from the sadness.  Just putting one foot in front of the other.  Trying to enjoy the moment because who knows how many moments you have left…  I don’t want to waste them.  I don’t want to be asleep when I can be awake.  I don’t want to obsess about cleaning when I can be enjoying time with Miss M.  I don’t want to be watching trashy reality tv when I can be reading a good book.

Every single moment truly matters.  Time is precious.  Let’s not take it for granted.

Peace.  – T

11 Responses

  1. I hear you, sweetheart. But remember, wasting time is not ALWAYS necessarily a bad thing to do with it. Sometimes a little comfort-food-type TV or the like can really help. I have faith in your choices, whatever they are.

  2. Lol, your Dad said it for me… You can’t peak every moment, and sometimes we just need to veg!

    As for Miss M losing you, that is the natural course for parents and children, and it’s a worse tragedy to lose children while we’re still alive. No matter when you and her father leave her, it will be very hard and terrobly sad. But your Mom saw you grow to adulthood, and you are fighting fiercely to give your daughter the same gift.

    Anti-aging cream? Maybe it’ll depend on how expensive it is ;-). I will tell you this, though: your improved diet and lifestyle will do more for your appearance than any cream or botox. I’ve been on high doses of multiple anti-oxidents and supplements for twenty years, and although my diet isn’t great, I look at least *ten years* younger than I am, at 61 – and that does not run in my family. That’s not why I do it, but it *is* a sweet little benefit!

    • So glad to hear that the truck-load of supplements I’m taking may actually help with anti-aging too!! And I totally agree that the basics like diet, exercise, keeping out of the sun, and trying not to stress too much are the biggest anti-aging and good skin remedies out there.

      Thanks for the reminder that it’s ok to just veg out once & a while. That’s never been my strong suit :-). xoxo -T

  3. Hello Graceful Woman Warrior,

    We continue to enjoy your very inspiring and wonderful blog. Had intended to send this to you a few weeks ago before your trip to Chicago but think it might also be helpful now. Hope you and your family do enjoy it. Keep up your great positive outlook.

    John O Donohue’s Blessing for Courage – taken from his Book Benedictus

    When the light around you lessens, and your thoughts darken until your body feels fear turn cold as a stone inside, when you find yourself bereft of any belief in yourself and all you unknowingly leaned on has fallen, when one voice commands your whole heart, and it is raven dark, steady yourself and see that it is your own thinking that darkens your world, search and you will find a diamond-thought of light, know that you are not alone and that this darkness has purpose;
    gradually it will school your eye to find the one gift your life requires hidden within this night-corner. Invoke the learning of every suffering you have suffered. Close your eyes. Gather all the kindling about your heart to create one spark. That is all you need to nourish the flame that will cleanse the dark of its weight of festered fear. A new confidence will come alive to urge you towards higher ground where your imagination will learn to engage difficulty as its most rewarding threshold!

    • Thanks so much for sharing this blessing. I really needed to read it yesterday – was feeling shitty & sorry for myself – And reading John’s words was a great pick-me-up. This is the second time someone has shared John O’Donohue words with me. Each time I was amazed by the beauty in his words. I need to read more of his stuff!

      All the best, – terri

  4. “I will always be aware that cancer is hanging out on the sidelines just waiting to get back in the game again.” What is amazing about you, Terri, is that you could take that sentence and replace the word “cancer” with any of these (don’t mind my spelling):

    -complacency
    -depression
    -indifference
    -etc

    and THAT is why you are still here, and why you stay. You have figured out a way to be happy and turn what could ruin most into a gift…and you have passed it on. Ride the waves and enjoy the serene moments, because I am so sure they are more beautiful to you than they seem to most people lucky enough to be here.

  5. “But I’ve gotten really good at detaching myself from the sadness.”
    That IS the huge step that makes you strong.
    Always remember that many canNOT escape the sadness and they drown. Detaching from it IS the way to beat it.
    That IS where the strength comes from to WIN.
    And you WILL WIN. Lee Pelley

    • Thanks Lee. I’ve always wondered if my detaching skills were a good or bad thing. I’ve been trying to allow myself to feel the emotions inside me – thinking that unexpressed feelings may fester and turn into something nasty… But I agree that there’s gotta be some good in being able to detach myself when I need to. As you said, it will help keep me from drowning.

      Thanks for the reminder. Hope you’re doing well. – terri

      • I’ve found there’s a fine line between allowing/acknowledging my emotions and wallowing in them especially when it comes to depression and anxiety. Eventually you just have to say enough and detach.

  6. One of the most important distinctions between childhood and adulthood is the realization of the immense value of time over all other values!
    Thank you for your kind words, Terri. Not everything is right, but ENOUGH IS! Lee

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