Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Leaving the Front Door Open

I got asked on my last post in what way has cancer changed the way I look at my life and what I see differently then I did before.  Friends always ask the difficult questions. At least Greg does. 

I have to admit that this is not my first brush with a life changing event.  A couple of years ago I ended up being life flighted to Winnipeg for emergency repairs.  I lost over half my blood volume to sheer stupidity on my part.  I won't go into details. I don't regret what I did, but it certainly wasn't one of the smarter things I've done.  Lying in the hospital bed after surgery, I had a lot of time to think on what was important to me, and I came to the conclusion that relationships were. 

Family is funny.  You love them, but a lot of times you don't like them, and sometimes you say and do things to family members that you would never say and do to your friends, colleagues, strangers.  I just shake my head thinking of all that wasted time.  At that point in my life I started to repair the relationships that had fallen by the wayside because it was easier to let them go, then to try and fix them.  It wasn't easy.  There was a lot of animosity and anger and hurt, some of it legitimately my fault.  Some of it was by association; families are complicated.  I went into this whole endeavour with the idea that I didn't want to go back to the way our relationship was before things went south, but to start a new one.  Accept responsibility for my actions, apologize, and make a concerted attempt to start anew.  I am very happy to say, its worked more or less.  I also decided to put in as much effort as the other person was willing to, and accept that is the way its going to be.  Its rather freeing to accept people for who they are.  Sometimes I backslide, but its a lot easier now to not get hurt because someone doesn't email me back.  Their reasons have nothing to do with me.  That was a hard lesson to get through, but it was easier once I realized that when I didn't contact people it was because of my issues, not theirs.

So that was the beginning of the change in the way of looking at the world and my life.  I am not the centre of the universe.  As much as I like to think I am, I am not.  I started looking at what was really important to me.  What did I need to live a happy and satisfied life.  I changed jobs, I started doing things I'd not done before.  I opened myself up to new experiences and new people.  Its been an awesome change.  Another point for serendipity. 

Then cancer, and once again I'm realizing that life is way too short, and anything can happen.  I am starting to see that living each day as if its your last is not a bad way to live.  But I'm trying hard to live it unselfishly.  Its hard.  Really hard.  I can't be there reliably for my children, my family, my friends, work.  It is all about me right now, and its very hard to balance that.

I'm starting to notice details..things I never really seen before, like hawks, and bugs, and how beautiful everything is. And of course the crazy things my two labs do.  Like how Gracie sleeps.

I am more appreciative of the support from friends and family and people I don't know all that well.  And I'm letting them help me.  I find that although I don't have the energy to do  things to help people, I am more free with kind and supportive words.  It really does come back to you. 

I'm thinking of things I can do to make my piece of the planet a better one.  We recycle more.  I'm looking at doing a garden this year.  Not a full blown one, but containers.  I'm buying more local and more in season things.  That is harder to do when you are on a fixed budget, but every little bit helps.  Also, because of the side effects of my treatment, there are only certain things I can eat, so its harder to buy local and seasonal, but I try. 

I am starting to do things that I enjoy, and to learn new things like sketching!  Things that bring me peace and happiness.  I plan on exploring in my own back yard this summer.  I may not be able to get in much camping, but day trips are fun, and I'll take my camera and my sketch book, and my kids (if they want to) and just go explore Riding Mountain National Park.  Its 10 minutes from my house to the south gate.  Last spring and fall, I went on a photo safari with Celes Davar of Earth Rhythms as a birthday present for each of my kids.  I never knew what was in my own back yard. Prairie flowers and Beautiful Girl.

I'm not sure how much any of this makes sense.  I'm still struggling with the why me, but as each day goes by I think less of why me and more of what's around me and what I have to be thankful for.  I'm alive, and I have wonderful family and friends and colleagues and acquaintances who inspire me.  I live in a beautiful province with amazing nature and culture and people in my very own back yard.  Just last week ( I think it was last week)  I went to a house concert and met the most amazing poet, Shane Koyczan.  That man took us on a very personal journey of his childhood that had us laughing and crying all in the space of less than 10 minutes. I would go as far as to call him a wordsmith.  A year ago, I never would have even thought to go to a house concert, never mind go see a poet. 

I think this is what has changed in how I look at my life and how I see things differently.  I am leaving my front door open to the possibilities and wonder that are all around me.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Feet in a Cowpie

Chemo Days. Sounds like some kind of fair or celebration. And I suppose in some ways it is a celebration. Today is treatment 3 of 12. I could look at it and say damn, 9 more to go. Or I could say I am a 1/4 of the way on my journey to being cancer free.

My cousin Megan just finished her treatments for colon cancer and she looks at her cancer differently then I do. She always states "I had cancer. The surgery removed the cancer, the treatments are to make sure it doesn't come back." I admire that attitude. And if I'm honest, envy it a bit too.

My attitude is different. I have cancer and the treatments are to get rid of it. Realistically I know that my cancer (even if I never get another tumor) will always be a part of my life now. It's changing how I live my life and how I look at the world.

Chemo treatments are difficult. I don't like feeling unwell and it's hard to justify making myself feel this way when I have no other symptoms. Logically I know that this is what I need to do, but emotionally it makes no sense.

So I make a conscious choice to look at the positive and ignore the negative. I have this fridge magnet that embraces this philosophy. "feet in a cowpie, head in the clouds"

It's a great way to live. I know the difficulties and challenges but I choose to keep my dreams and my head in the clouds!