I had a pretty good New Year ‘s Eve; spent the night on the sofa at home with my husband and our four year old, who we decided to let stay up for the occasion, if he could stay awake (thinking more of the lie-in we’d get the day after too, to be honest). We watched Wreck it Ralph, the Little mermaid, and then switched between Gary Barlow and the Hootenanny until the fireworks and for a little while after. One bottle of buck’s fizz and one bottle of Prosecco consumed, along with fillet steak and grilled vegetables. Yep, pretty satisfactory as far as celebrations go.
So I guess I’m supposed to review 2013 too…
Well, it wasn’t a bad year. I’ve been trying to decide if it was better or worse than 2012, and I really can’t. 2012 was the year I was diagnosed after being very poorly for a while. And when I think of the last couple of months of the year, the effects the radiotherapy had on me and the trauma of the Brachytherapy? Ugh. But the earlier part of the year wasn’t too bad, I suppose.
2013 was different because I knew all the way through the year, right from the get-go, that I had cancer. I was still pretty ill from the radiotherapy, for the first six months at least. I thought I’d kicked it for a while though – and that felt great. But then there was all the waiting, the hospitals changing their minds about whether I was getting to have an operation or not; finding out that I’d been misdiagnosed as node-negative and that my situation was worse than we all thought, and the recent death of a lady I clocked up a lot of hours with in the chemo suite…
I don’t know.
The last year has been a massive learning experience and for that, there’s a lot to be grateful for: I know a lot more about myself now. I know who the people I can count on are; I’ve lost a fair few friends, made a whole bunch more of them, and built far stronger relationships with the ones who really have been there for me through this. I’ve discovered sewing, finding something I can do that is creative, a way to be absorbed in something other than my current situation, a way to keep calm and stress free. I’ve realised that it’s okay to say no to things I don’t feel like doing, but also that I shouldn’t always trust my gut feeling about whether I want to do something or not: I’m lazy by default, and I’ve learned how to shrug that off and go to the park or the seaside or climb mountains instead of sitting at home alone: I also know better what my limits are, and when I do need to stay home and rest. I’ve spent more time with my family and given more attention to my son than I think I otherwise would have. And it’s been the first year we’ve been debt-free since the last century.
I’ve changed a lot in myself, too – both physically and mentally. I want less material things. I don’t know if that’s partly because I can afford things these days, or if it’s because my values have shifted from material things to the things that really matter, like friends and family and spending time with people and appreciating them, and just appreciating being happy when I am happy. Strangely enough, I’m happier with myself in general now. Physically my body is the worst it has looked, maybe ever – but while I’m still here, still able to walk and talk and play with my son and eat good food I don’t mind. Maybe that’s what losing your hair does to someone, strips away a layer of vanity. I don’t know. For a while I didn’t even recognise myself when I looked in the mirror. Now I’m coming back, but I know it may only be a temporary thing. Losing my hair isn’t the worst thing that could happen anymore because it already did once and I lived, didn’t I? (I’m shrugging here, behind the keyboard). In some ways I’m more selfish (yes, I do play the Cancer card sometimes when I’m not getting my own way) but in others, I’m more likely to give more of myself away. There are some people I would do almost anything for now when I might have made excuses before. I definitely like myself more than I did.
In short, I’m thinking of 2013 in a positive light. I kicked some ass, had a lot of rest and reflection, learned a few new skills and had time to be creative, and found people who matter. As I go into 2014, I feel positive despite still being in one hell of a shitty situation (apologies for the swear, just no other word does it justice). I still believe that there is someone or some drug out there that will take all of this away and make me better. People are doing brilliant things with research these days.
The only thing I have to say to 2014, is ‘be kind’.