stupid things keep running through my head. that study that says if you sit down a lot you increase your risk of cancer. the fact that health sites tell you not to eat sugar. the endless questions – why didn’t i find these things earlier, why didn’t i notice that my liver stuck out from under my rib cage, why didn’t i know i had bowel cancer, why didn’t i know i was sick, how could i even know when i don’t feel sick? why can’t any of these miracle cures be real? why can’t i know, right now, if the chemo is going to work?
why can’t i just be going to melbourne to see my friends and celebrate important milestones rather out of a desperate need to see the faces of some of the most important people in my life in case i never see them again? why do i feel like now, i am sticking my life out, attention-like, in front of other people? i am angry at myself for taking people’s attention away from important parts of their lives. i am angry at myself because i haven’t knitted baby clothes for five pregnant/recently had baby friends. i am angry at myself for being so selfish to get upset because i might not get to see them wear tiny shoes, and waddle about and say words, and visit them and see photos on instagram. i am angry that this is happening to me mostly because it is not just happening to me.
i know people keep telling me not to apologise. but imagine how it feels. i should be visiting melbourne to celebrate some great things, some wonderful things, and here i go, showing up, with my STAGE FOUR CANCER in the front stage. i want it to be trivial. i remember booking the tickets months ago, because i was so so excited about the art show i am going to, and a baby on the way of two very important people. my diary has YAY written there, and i put happy stars on the opening night. this is HIS night. this is THEIR baby. and fuck, here i come. fucking cancer lady. fucking blowing in like some… well… rotten cancer that is wrecking an otherwise fully functioning organ. i wish i could have just not told anyone sometimes. i wish it could just be a thing that no one other than me knew about, and everyone could still be ok, and everyone wouldn’t have to cook for me or babysit me, or give me money.
and i am so completely consumed with gratitude that it makes me cry and cry because i don’t know how to express how grateful i am, and it gets caught up in this intense, burning guilt. it is really hard to receive openly. i want to give back to everyone, and i don’t know what to give back, and i don’t even know how, because i feel so … so empty sometimes, like there’s nothing left of me apart from this core of tumours wrapping around my liver, and the blood clots and the spots on my lungs and that anxious feeling like i can’t breathe and the endless snotty crying. i take long showers. i poke my stitches. i am not even anxious, i am just so angry at myself for doing this.
and i know. this is what being human is. it is about giving, it is about what happens when this happens – when the people we love suddenly might be taken from us. it shifts things suddenly and frighteningly. both for the person who might have to go, and for those who might have to lose them. i am grieving the life i thought i would live, the one without Cancer. i am stuck now, inside this hideous lumpy snow globe of cancer where all i can see is the refracted light of what i’m fucking up, and what i am getting in the way of, and learning how to receive openly. there are texts on it, i’m sure. there are ways to learn how to receive. i just feel undeserving, and i can’t process right now how so many people care so much, when i struggle so much with feeling as though i’m a fairly irritating, marginal person. how does that shift who i am? how do i take feeling such kindness? how can i take that kindness into me, and let it make me feel less guilty, less angry at myself?
you know why i want to get better? the biggest reason? because i don’t want to hurt people any more than this stupid fucking miserable shit already has. that is my driving will to live. each message each gift each moment of kindness is what is holding me and moving me and keeping that message of ‘just keep going’ repeating over and over again. i don’t actually care if it sucks or if it’s hard or how much pain i’ll be in. i am focussed now on the chemo shrinking the tumours. i am then focussed on having my liver resected. that’s my biggest hope and dream right now. a major liver resection that’s really high risk. it used to be moving to tasmania.
sometimes when we go to sleep, we lie side by side, holding hands like ottars do, so that they don’t get lost in the water. i feel like everyone around me that has had me interject this cancer into their life and has reached out – every one of those people are holding my hand, keeping me from getting lost in the water.
and this – THIS – is why i keep apologising.