Last night I had a dream. I dreamt we were back at the house we used to live in. The nursery where both children used to sleep, and where I had my rocking chair was haunted. There was a ghost called Claudia that lived in there, with the door closed. No matter what I would do as I knew she was there, but she would never come out, always darting about the place, always unseen and always with the Nursery door closed. When we sold the house I knocked on the nursery door which had a nameplate on the door (that read Claudia) and I said "Goodbye Claudia, we are going" and the door opened and out came this woman, who was blonde, short hair - looked very much like Daphnie on Neighbours back in the 80's - the one who went out and married Des. She introduced herself and explained that she had died from cancer.
The night I received the news that I had a tumour I dreamt of ghosts and rooms, walking around the house there were different ghosts in different rooms all confined to their rooms until now - they they were able to sit and watch me wherever I went. It is almost like a scene in the movie Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg's character asks Sam, a recently departed soul (Patrick Swayze) whether he informed every spook in town that she was able to hear him because they now follow her where ever she goes, including the shower!
Survivorship I think is about moving on, but moving on requires becoming historical to some extent and facing fears that perhaps we didnt even realise we had. For me, the diagnosis of a tumour cuts away all the deadwood automatically. You dont go through the phonebook and ask yourself hmmm, do I want this person in my life anymore. Your soul makes the decision for you. Two decisions are generally made. For those you love, your patience becomes eternal, the angst and the rush and the impatience is gone. But for those routines, habits, aquaintences, keeping up appearances etc. the egg timer has run out. They are passed over, quietly, gently, forgiven and let go.
I had a conversation with Hubby the other day who realised that facing the possibility of losing me how things were taken for granted, particularly the fact that I would always be around. That I would take care of it. It was always something I was happy to do, but even I know now, that every second that we breathe is joyous. Put your hand on your heart. Go on, do it. Lightly and gently place your hand over your heart. Feel your heartbeat. One day that will stop. That is the only thing I can guarantee. I hope for you its decades and decades away when you are old and grey and lived a full and satisfying life. But, I cannot be certain, no one can. All I know is that one day it will stop. That is how cancer changes you.
So you sort out the wheat from the chaff and you move on. Not because you necessarily make the decision to but because it is what your soul has decided to do. I am not angry anymore. That would be one major change. I don't get mad anymore. I walk away and I quietly close the door behind me. The soul chooses the energy it wishes to expend. I thought I knew what that meant when I used to make the concious decisions on "oh I wont let that person bother me" I had to think about it. In this case, it happens automatically and there is a grace and a peace that comes with it.
Sometimes you feel fractured. At the moment my mind, body and soul are out of sync. I know it because I can feel it. My mind attempts to carry on with the busy frenetic pace that it used to work at but my soul knows otherwise. I have learnt to let go. Naturally and automatically and there is a peace that comes with that. So there is a balancing act or even perhaps a transition of the old with the new.
Today and every day we live it as best we know how. What I can share with you and what I have come to find as one major commonality speaking to and about cancer survivors in general is not the fight to hang on to everything you have, but the grace to let it all go.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.