No news has been good news after blood work, so when I didn’t get a call Friday telling me I need to have more blood-thinning shots, that was a relief. I had three days of no needles last week, and since my surgeon rescheduled my appointment this Tuesday to next Tuesday, I don’t have any appointments this week. Of course, that might change. I’m learning to have no expectations and to deal with situations as they arise. Too much about breast cancer treatment is unpredictable.
I realized this past week that I used to derive comfort from rituals, like a cup of coffee in the mornings, and that this cancer treatment has taken away my rituals. The chemo has changed my tastes so much that I no longer like coffee. At first I tried various other hot drinks in my coffee mugs in the mornings, but nothing fulfilled that craving, that ritual. I think that letting go of comforting rituals is one part of this journey. I’m having to face my discomforts head on. When I was in the midst of the chemo treatments, just getting through each day was enough, and I didn’t miss my rituals. But now as I’m starting to feel better as my body recovers from chemo, and I head into surgery on December 5th, I’m missing that morning cup of coffee and the comfort it represented. I’m also amazed at how good almost-normal feels. I have more energy, and even though I get tired very easily, I can now stand or walk for a little while without having to sit down. Now I realize that so much that I used to take for granted really is special. The subtle flavors of foods, a hearty appetite, having enough energy to water my plants without having to rest, being able to take a vehicle for an oil change and wait over an hour for it, going out to dinner with a friend. I never thought twice about any of those before I started chemo. Now I’m grateful to be able to do basic activities. Yes, I have surgery on the horizon and then another round of chemo and then radiation, and I don’t know how my body will respond to any of those. But I’m grateful that I’m feeling better and stronger now. Yes the now is starting to be when I live and not in some unknown future. I’d wanted to do that before, and this cancer is helping me realize that now is really all I have. I’ve read that people sometimes say that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to them, and I understand that. Sometimes we can’t see what life is because we’re too busy getting through each day. Any situation that forces us to slow down, to pay attention – that can be a gift. Even cancer. Even chemo. Even having no rituals. Here life is, every moment, each right now. I breathe in, and I breathe out. That’s ritual enough.