I was surprised at how hard last weeks resolutions were to keep. The writing would have been easier if I had something to write about but I honestly struggled with doing good deeds. I used to be a good deed doer. I used to pride myself on all the good energy I could toss into the universe in a single afternoon. That was all before cancer. No, that was all before my daughter got cancer. Cancer is trauma. The stress and worry are all-consuming and leaves no room for anyone or anything else in your life. After six months of being in a cancer cocoon, I am finding it hard to reemerge. I imagine that this is what survivors of natural disasters must feel like. The hurricane, or tornado, or whatever is all that you think about for months on end. When everything in your life is thought of by its relation to the disaster, you lose perspective. Now that our hurricane cancer is over, it feels strange to do, see, and feel things not related to the disease. We can suddenly contribute to society at large except I have no appetite for it. I am embarrassed to say it but, my empathy has taken a real hit these last six months.
I try to look back on my own cancer experience but, it is fuzzy. I have done a great job of burying that time in my mind. I do remember the overwhelming feeling of selfishness. I don’t say that in a self-critical way, but an honest one. When ones life is at stake it is right to focus all your attention on it. Selfishness is not as fun as you would think though. It took a lot of energy and I was often tired. One day a friend told me about another woman who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a mother of three and thirty-two years old. Sound familiar? She was, in a very real way, about to go through what I had just emerged from. I sent her an email and a string of conversation was unleashed. I don’t know how much, if any, I helped her but it helped me tremendously. I felt I had regained a sense of power in my life that cancer had stolen. I could still help people and be useful.
I look to that time for hope in this one. I am still feeling in the cancer cocoon. Perhaps that is why I began writing this blog. I think that maybe writing will help me process my reemergence from cancerland the way it helped me when I was in it. I know that it hasn’t been very long since we finished Olivia’s treatments but I am impatient. I guess the good deeds week came too soon. Maybe I will try it again a little later in the year. For now, Olivia is doing well, we are well, I am satisfied.