This one wild and precious life

Today I had my final radiotherapy session. I will see my oncologist tomorrow to conclude treatment.

This should be the end, unless it isn’t! I will carry that seed of doubt forward into the days that come. That is inevitable but it doesn’t mean that my days will be filled with worry only that the complacent security I used to have about my life is gone. It has been replaced with an acceptance of a life that will end.

I feel emotional. I feel both happy and sad. I am of course delighted to have completed my treatment and I have many positive experiences associated with the people who helped me during that time. I feel sad about what cancer has taken from me. My body bears the scars and I have to move forward not knowing if it will still ultimately take my life too.

My experience is not special it happens to thousands of people every year. People are diagnosed every day. We are so lucky to get the treatment and care that we do. However long my life is I will be grateful for that every day.

In the beginning I needed to write about what was happening to me in order to understand it. But it was also an attempt to hold onto my life. My cancer diagnosis tore into my existence with extreme force and writing about it was my way of hanging onto what was left and creating order again.

What was left when the certainty of life had been stripped away was the love I had for my life and the important people in it. I knew I wanted to be a mother long before it ever happened. The idea of being removed from my children’s lives before I had completed that role was unbearable. Every treatment, every difficult, unpleasant painful part of it was made tolerable by the necessity of doing everything possible to continue to be their mum. That has been the point of everything. If the worst happens then I know I did my best. I was often grumpy and impatient during my treatment but underneath, however well disguised was an endless, fathomless ocean of love for my children that rendered every other consideration of secondary importance.

One of the unanticipated positives of this experience was the time I had while recovering. To begin with I had to find the good in each day. However, after the first two months had passed I found that life became much easier and I was able to appreciate simple things. Being able to eat, to taste food, walking my dog, the company of friends and family, a good night’s sleep and it is these things that made life good again.

Life is good again. It is good in a different way. To sit with my husband and make plans for the future feels so unbelievable. That we can do that and have that opportunity feels both exciting and scary. I know that I must make plans again. I must decide what it is that I want to do with the one wild and precious life that I have been gifted.

I feel so lucky to have this chance. To live the life I thought I had lost but to do so with a new found clarity of what and who matters. I won’t waste it by worrying.

To be alive is the greatest thrill imaginable. To share that life with those you love is to have the greatest fortune. I already have everything I ever wanted and I promise to live in a way that remembers that truth and recognises my good fortune. This is my plan; to enjoy it.

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