Ahh…the summer solstice. A new season. The first day of summer. How I’ve looked forward to this season! I remember when I used to be quite okay with humidex values in the 40s
By: Robin Harry
This is my first summer post-treatment (last summer was pretty much all treatment!). Well, I don’t know what the chemo did – or maybe it was the radiation and my thyroid gland – but my body is way less tolerant of the heat than it used to be. I have trouble breathing in the humidity; that’s totally new for me. My skin is hypersensitive to the sun now – just a few seconds and it feels like it’s burning. I’m a black girl from the tropics, for crying out loud, this is not normal!
This is just one of the many things that make cancer a part of my everyday life. I’ve already accepted that, and as long as I don’t have cancer itself, I can live with that. I have things to remind me of lymphoma everyday. The nasal steroid I’m taking to help with the radiation cough that still plagues me. The ibuprofen I’m taking to help with the recurrent pericarditis. The gaps in my memory from months gone by. My dark toenails (I don’t know why they’re growing so slowly!). The radiation burn on my chest and back – all still there, whether others see it or not.
What amazes me though is the expectation and assumption from others that I’m over it all. I’m two months into remission, and already I feel uncomfortable talking about cancer with a lot of folks. It’s like when I was in treatment and before the remission verdict it was all fine to talk about; now I just sound like a whiner if I even bring it up. “Who cares about sunscreen when you’re alive, right? Wait, we’re still talking about this? You don’t have cancer anymore! What’s new and exciting in your life?” I mean, I’m a strong girl, but still…two months?
Remission is not a magic word that made it all better. Yes, the hard part is done, the tumours are gone, (we’ll talk about that later), treatment is finished…but I’m not over it all yet. Remission is sometimes just as confusing as the sick days were, just in different ways. There are body parts that are still healing, hurts and disappointments to get over, a future to consider. Most days I’m totally fine, but some days I’m not. It just takes time; the seasons may change, but the story never goes away. I’m not about to pretend that cancer is all in the past, not just yet. And right now, I’m pretty sure that’s okay.
“They said we’d better check the weather chart
Before we tie our colours to this mast
It’s just too hard thinking ’bout the future,
So let’s get on with the past”
Sting – Forget About The Future