Today is the shortest day of the year and also the first day of winter. I crept out of bed before any of my kids and even though it was past eight it was still pitch black. Tonight it will be solidly dark well before we have dinner. I’m looking out the window at part of our forest while I write this, the trees all bare but their branches beginning to be lightly illuminated by the sky behind them as the sun rises. There isn’t even enough snow to cover all the fall leaves where they lay thick in the wild parts of our yard. Trees don’t have trouble with the stark stripping down and apparent death of this season, they thrive on letting things go to nourish what is coming next. It’s not always so easy for us humans.
It has been two months to the day since I had an emergency appendectomy where they found not an infected appendix but instead a tumour that had ruptured my appendix and also some deposits on my right ovary.
It has been about six weeks since I found out exactly what that tumour was, a low grade appendicital neoplasm and also that the deposits on my ovary were mucousy which is how this tumour spreads.
It has been five weeks since I found out from my amazing surgeon (who did everything right during surgery even though this is very rare) an approximation of what oncology would do.
It has been a week since I have met with one of my oncologists for the first time.
Here is what I’ve found:
It takes about two weeks, maybe a bit less for your mind to wrap your head around the idea that yes, this is happening to you. You are really allowed to feel sad or mad or anything else you want about your diagnosis during that time even though there are worse tragedies going on in the world, because, well you just are.
It takes about a week (for me anyway) after it all sinks in to get incredibly fed up of thinking about life without you, so I wrote about it because that helps me process it and shake it off, but also my husband gave me this.
It takes about one week of wearing this elastic band with one hard snap each and every time I thought about life without me in it until I didn’t really need it anymore. (Idea from Kris Carr’s book, Crazy, Sexy, Cancer Survivor).
If I am having a bad day, I put it back on but mostly now it is this:
One day at a time
Putting your big girl panties on
Being held up by the prayers and encouragement of those who love you and a God who calls you beloved.
Because it takes about zero days to realize how much you love your life, and by that you mean your family, your friends, your faith, your very own self, even this often very broken world. I think this is what we call blessed; when you have all of this, so dear to your heart that you have such gratitude, despite what ever else is going on. So you suck it up, you breathe them in. You absolutely get drunk on everyday moments like brushing your girls freshly dried hair and saying I love you and eating dinner together around the candles.
You revel in moments that you no longer take for granted like waking up alive and hearing your prognosis is good. Because it takes about zero days to realize that to survive you have to look for the light, each and every speck of it, especially during the darkest days of the year.