It’s the last day of 2015. Helluva year. Twelve months ago, fighting cancer was certainly not on my radar screen. Now that I’ve finished my radiation therapy as of yesterday, and chemotherapy is two months behind me, I am facing the last few hours of the year cancer-free, treatment completed and ready to get back to being me. Yippee!
It’s not often you get to hit the reset button on life and get a complete do over. My hair is growing back, and it might be a different texture and different colour (it’s a mystery until the pigments grow back). My organs are recovering and regenerating after the toxic assault of chemotherapy. By the time it’s all finished, I’ll practically be a brand new person. Not many of us get to say that, and I am profoundly grateful for the chance to do so.
Much – but not all – of my focus and energy for the past six months has been directed at fighting cancer. Now that I am finished my treatments, my treatment team has warned me that many patients experience a feeling of depression as they adjust from focusing on the fight to ‘what do I do now’. I can see how that could happen – getting through treatment takes enormous focus and commitment. It is in many ways more of a mental than a physical challenge. Staying positive and channeling your energy towards recovery takes tremendous effort. When that laser focus is gone, you’re left with a feeling of loss.
Cancer was, for obvious reasons, a big part of my life this last half of the year. But it was not the only focus I had. I chose to continue working so that I would not be solely thinking about and focusing on cancer the whole time. I also knew that by continuing to contribute to the world of healthcare through my role in user experience, I had a chance to help foster positive change from the inside out – and that was (and remains) a strong motivator every day.
I was very fortunate to have had many more positive experiences than negative ones during my cancer journey so far. My body figured out how to cope with chemotherapy and radiation and their side effects. I got to meet wonderful people who continue to be a part of my life. I was buoyed by a network of love and support that I never knew I had. Strength was found in unusual places at times when I didn’t know I had anything left to give. And, I learned to be comfortable with vulnerability. That’s a huge lesson for a control freak. Letting go of being in control, and putting faith and trust in those around you – beyond scary.
So yes, I am glad to see the end of 2015. And at the same time, despite all the shitty things that were a part of the second half of this year, I am grateful for all of the good things that came along for the ride. They far outweighed the bad.
Happy New Year.
Anusara Invocation (translation & meaning here)
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave