Sunday, November 20, 2016

When Is Now

I need to share a story with you. (Somehow, putting it out there makes me accountable for sticking to my resolve.)

By now, you all know I've spent upwards of the past five months smashing cancer in its face and, for the most part, my prognosis has been really positive. Having potentially treatable/curable cancer makes it all a lot easier to deal with. Most of the time, I've kept a level head, a fierce as fuck attitude and a lid on my googling. However, there was one week during this whole journey when things fell apart. By things, I mean me.

After a scary appointment with a new Doctor, resulting in a scary scan, which produced scary results, I was left with the news that it was quite possible/likely that I had a VERY scary kind of cancer. When you see a Doctor panic (which they very rarely do), you know there's trouble. Even more telling is when they escalate things to an urgent level (it takes a lot to get anyone to treat you with any urgency).

All of a sudden, we were scheduling urgent appointments with my oncologist so that I could be urgently referred for urgent core biopsies (Unbelievably uncomfortable procedures which involve very long needles being stuck in you while you have to lie very still. I had five of these.). 

Ok, let me get to the point...

I researched (googled) the kind of cancer they were testing me for. It was bad. Really, really bad. Four things scared the fuck out of me:

1. A 6% survival rate
2. The words "usually fatal"
3. The fact that when I searched for survivor forums, there was only one and let's just say it was a VERY poorly populated group
4. It spreads far and wide very rapidly

That was it. I was done. I started telling people that I was now convinced that my body wanted me dead. My head wasn't in the game anymore. For the first time since the last time I thought I might not make it (the day I was diagnosed), I started to think about the end. I cried. I cried more than I've ever cried. I cried harder than I've ever cried. I cried for days.

Seven days, to be exact.

Here's why I cried:

1. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children. It's not the natural order. I never wanted my Mom to have to feel pain like that.
2. Regret. I regretted all the time I had spent waiting for "when". I'll be happy when . I'll be happy when I lose 10kgs. I'll be happy when I earn more money. I'll be happy when I meet 'The One'. Everyone has a different "when".

It turns out that "when" is an elusive little fucker and every time you think you're getting close to it, it seems to slip further away.

So, here's the lesson...

A lot of the tears I cried came from a shameful place of discovery that I have spent so much time waiting for "when", that I think happiness has evaded me completely.

I worried that people would speak about my great work ethic at my funeral and very little else. It bothered me that there wouldn't be much more to say about me because I haven't been living my best life. Not even close. I've pretty much thrown myself into my work while I waited for "when".

That home truth left me completely winded and I felt like I had run out of time to do anything about it.

Let me fast forward seven days...

My Doctor called me with the test results. He was seemingly shocked (and really relieved) to discover that I didn't have the very scary cancer. I'll never forget standing in the middle of Sandton City and sobbing like a small child (People stared. I'm terminally uncool.). Not just because I wasn't going to die, but because I had another chance at "when". I get a 'do over'. I get to fix it.

Since that day (the 26th of February), I have a new mantra....

When is now.

That's not a question, it's a statement. No more waiting. Enough. Every day is "when". It may not be what I thought "when" looked like, but this second chance is feeling an awful lot like happiness.

And there you have it. My long winded teeny tiny pearl of cancer wisdom.

When is now.

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