Strangely calm

So the witching hour approaches. Well, 2018 anyway. I have to say that Christmas wasn’t a typically magnificent time this year. I should have been jumping for joy that I wasn’t all dosed up with chemo and flat on my side, unable to take part in anything because of nausea and a fatigue like you’ve never known. As it turned out, the missed chemo meant that I was able to cook and oh joy, wash up on The Day. But nothing in the day really clicked.

So a week on, I have now missed two chemo infusions because my white blood cell count is so low. It didn’t shift one bit between 22 and 29 December. Too dangerous (again) to receive chemo three days ago, I was sent home (again) to wait it out. Be a patient patient. And rest and eat properly and drink water and exercise gently to encourage those little old white blood cells to get kickstarted into action.

But being in limbo this week has been a different experience. Last week’s missed infusion sent me into a bit of an anxious state, worried that I would miss a further infusion. I did. But this week, I’m strangely calm. I’ve been getting used to ‘hanging out’ and not actually doing very much. Even in the holidays, I can normally find quite a bit to ‘do’ but this time, I’ve purposefully switched to a lower gear, am moving slower, not rushing at preparing meals, not bounding up the stairs just because I can. I’ve not turned into a sloth dear reader, oh no, as my running (re-named ‘walking’) watch will testify. But for non exercise time in the day, I’m spending time truly in the moment.

And it’s good.

I’m not thinking about ‘what if’ my bloods are too low again. What’s the point? Either they will be or they won’t and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m not thinking about the end of chemo either in a few weeks’/months’ time. What’s the point of trying to second guess the destination when there are still so many more twists and turns on the path: more chemo infusions, a PET scan to chart progress (or not), and more surprise oncological delights.

Instead I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful things that have happened in 2017 that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer. To name just a few: the joy at finding time to have gorgeous friendships; receiving the love of friends (and their practical support, bless them); the time to find new ways to support and strengthen the bond with my anxious, clever son and understand more about the world he lives in; the chance to take stock of how I live and eat, and interact with the world.

So, on the eve of 2018, I’m strangely calm in a good way. And very joyous in my heart. Whether that’s the result of being optimistic about a ‘better’ 2018 since the recurrence of cancer in 2017, or whether it’s the product of spending time truly in the moment, I don’t really know. But if I had to put a bet on it, it would be that I feel calm and joyous from being able to stay in the moment. Mindfulness, I love you. Roll on 2018.

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