I’ve made a decision! This is to be my Year of Living Optimistically. Not that I’m a pessimistic person, but I don’t feel I’ve had much to feel that optimistic about in recent years. Those of you who know the history of my recent past will know why, and perhaps I’ll get to writing about it here, over time. And then, on top of that ‘recent past’ (2011 to 2013), this week, a year ago, I found a lump in my left breast.
I was in the shower, and knew immediately something was not right. I made an appointment to see my GP the following week. However, three days after finding the lump, my lovely, gentle Dad died. Inexpressably sad, but at the same time a huge relief washed over me at the thought that he and Mum would be reunited in death – Dad was so lost without her by his side.
Then followed a two or three week hiatus while I joined my sister and family in SA to attend to Dad’s affairs and then back to London and a new appointment with the GP. Fast forward through April and May, countless visits to doctor, specialist, mammograms, ultrasounds, and, in the midst of the seemingly endless diagnostic process, an appendix that blew up for no good reason and had to be removed. Mid June, the 16th, to be precise, and I heard the words I really hoped I’d not hear from my consultant: “You have cancer”. My reaction – a blank stare and a voice in my head going: “really?… I mean, REALLY?” And then, very quickly, the strong independent woman in me kicked in and I went into pragmatic mode.
Face reality, listen to the experts, put your trust in them, make your own informed decisions, move forward. That’s how I handled things. I simply did not allow myself to dwell on questions of “why me?”, or “what if…?”. I set about living through surgery and then six months of treatment with a one-day-at-a-time mantra in my mind and heart. It worked. For the first time in years, I was actually living in the present, consistently, every day. On the bad days, I acknowledged them for just that, and simply went with it, reciting my Dad’s mantra of “go with the flow” and inevitably, the next day was just that little bit better. On the good days, I used my energy well to look after myself in the best possible way.
And here I am, a year on from finding the offending lump, and tomorrow, it’s a year since Dad died. Yes, it’s sad and poignant and all that. But I am feeling so alive to the possibilities that lie ahead. Life is good. I’m in a good place. I’m going to be okay. I am okay.