There is no cure for what you get when you are diagnosed with cancer. As I walked in one last time to my Oncologists office, there they were. Others who live in fear and bathe in hope that there will be another day.
At the desk checking out after her checkup a woman perhaps 70, who I have seen before. Her face slightly disfigured from the scars only a surgeons steady hand can make. A smooth line descending from her right eye, across her cheek and down to her neck. There are some that say that familiarity can lead to contempt – but not in here. No words were exchanged but broad grins passed our lips as we greeted each other with that look – that look of gentle submission to the moment – after a hectic few days where I have questioned my place here on this earth for some odd reason I felt at home here were my greatest fears lived for the last few years.
My appointment was the last of the day and it was quiet in there, besides my elegant female friend at the desk there was just an older man in the corner, smiling like a cheeky monkey with a trick to play. Before we had a chance to exchange any greeting he was ushered into the checkup room.
It is here we get poked and prodded and checked, we have faith that the surgeons steady hand, and the Oncologists careful mix of deadly chemicals somehow defeats the demon that grew in us.
After a few minutes he came out and went to the reception desk where he joked and laughed – his sole purpose was to put those around him at ease. Then before leaving he turned to me and we waved at each other, he pulled his collar down and showed his scar and I did the same, we both laughed at our fate and then suddenly he was gone with a skip to his step.
This was officially my 5 year appointment – for those that have been through this we know the 5 year mark is the so called magical point where medical professionals say you are cured. Over the past half-decade each of these appointments carried so much weight as I wondered if “It” had returned.
Today however was different, the fear isn’t gone – it’s not the same now. Death doesn’t scare me – Not doing what I am meant to do while I am here scares me instead. But that fear is in my hands and the outcome entirely in my control.
Someone asked me recently what was the one thing I have learned through this struggle with cancer, or the one thing that changed me. I gave some nicely worded metaphor, but I knew it was just words. The truth is I have gone on a 5 year odyssey searching for something and finding nothing yet being rewarded with everything.
I used to measure myself by all sorts of standards of goals achieved and I saw my worth through the status I created – but none of that ever filled me with the contentment I craved.
What I did find was that nirvana I sought was not at the end of a rainbow, it was right here all along inside of me. It sat with me in those quiet times as I allowed myself to cry at the saddest moments or at the happiest memories. It allowed me to do what I avoided a half century doing – to say sorry and admit I was wrong.
I used to want to be the final word in any debate (and yes there are still times I still try to be) but now the greatest pleasure comes from not knowing and being open to learning – it is a freedom I didn’t allow myself to have before cancer.
Now as I go forward with a clean bill of health, I know I am not cured I’ve just been given another chance to be better tomorrow than I am today.
Thanks you all for your support during this journey.
And to the loves of my life Marina and Alyssa – I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you and I thank you.