With no big medical events on the calendar, I am, in many ways, more normal than I have been in almost three years.
But yet I am not.
I don’t need to rehash the combination of fatigue, lymphedema, fogginess, and trauma I have been left to sort through. I’ve covered that mess already.
If I am not my Old Self and I am not a Cancer Patient, who am I?
For instance, I like to think of myself as reliable. Right now I am not.
Will I ever be again?
Much of recovery involves managing expectations, both my own and other people’s –– and on an uncertain timeline.
It’s not easy. Sometimes I have focus and energy. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I have pain and exhaustion. Sometimes I don’t.
I have not found any predictable rhythm to it.
I have been trying to make room for this uncertainty: don’t overcommit, stay forgiving of my limitations. Let myself rest, bow out. Listen to my body.
Stay realistic, despite the ways I am champing at the bit to get back to that magical land of How Things Were.
Take myself off of a set timeline, let things unfold as they may. People call it a New Normal, but there is nothing normal about it.
If my wellness were the only uncertainty, maybe I could manage to make space in my life for this to work itself out.
But there is that other shadow in my life, the fear of recurrence.
With odds somewhere between 20 and 30%, most breast cancer patients cannot ignore that reality.
It’s a haunting and existentially impossible situation:
What if I give myself time, stay gentle in my expectations, and I get pulled up short again?
How do I let Time Heal All Wounds when I am Racing Against Time? When life may pull another fast one on me and the clock may abruptly stop?