The dealership FINALLY had the airbag part in to complete the recall repair notice I got almost 2 years ago. I was happy to bring my car in and even happier when they gave me a loaner car while they did the repair. The car was the 2016 version of the car that 2010 car that was being repaired.
I sat in the car, enjoying that new car smell and updated gadgets. Of course I wished THIS was the car I would be driving for the next several years instead of riding out my current car loan. Suddenly I was struck with a thought that rocked me a bit…
Don’t take on a bigger payment – you might not be here next year.
But then again….with joy I realized that I am now at the point where my mind even went to a future thought. There was a time I couldn’t even think past today or tomorrow. When you are in the midst of cancer treatments …when you have a known tumor resting or growing somewhere inside your body…all you can think about is what you can do to get it GONE and what will happen if you don’t.
The third worst thing about cancer is that it’s a mind f*ck.
The first worst thing, of course, is that it can take your life. The second is the damage it and the treatments do to your body. But if you can survive all that, you will deal with the mindf*ck for the rest of your life.
Here are some examples of how it messes with your mind:
I’ve had a few days in a row with a slight headache…
BEFORE (cancer): Dang. You need to drink some coffee, Gail, and combat this caffeine addiction you have. Or -you need to drink more water, Gail! You have been dehydrated for days and the coffee is only making that worse.
AFTER: OMG -did the cancer spread to my brain?
I’ve had a slight cough every morning for weeks…
BEFORE: Ugh! Am I coming down with a cold again or is it allergy time of the year? Maybe I need to de-fur my bed again…after all -you are allergic to cats…
AFTER: uh-oh. did the cancer spread to my lungs?
Will you come to Thanksgiving at your parents in KY this year?
BEFORE: Well, that depends on a variety of factors. Whose is going to be there? What does the timing look like? Do I have enough money for the trip? Have I seen the family the rest of the year? Is there anyone to take care of my cat?
AFTER: What if this is the last Thanksgiving you get?
Having a bad hair day during your monthly when you are feeling fat…
BEFORE: *Hides in the house wearing sweats and eats chocolate.*
AFTER: F*ck it! At least I HAVE hair! But still avoids that incredible awesome chocolate because sugar feeds cancer… dammit.
I am actually happy to report that now that I am a few months out from radiation and it seems like we finally nuked Larry the lump to hell where he belongs, I’ve noticed that much of my thinking is beginning to revert back to my BEFORE cancer brain. Not that my old way of thinking was better – but that I CAN think that way again.
BEFORE cancer my head was filled with future thoughts. What moves do I make in my career to advance? What guy do I date that may become a lifelong partner? What repairs do I make to my home so it gains value? AFTER diagnosis none of that seemed important any more. Living to the next day was all that mattered. New thoughts took over my mind in the last year like:
The sun feels incredible on my face. What a beautiful day the Lord hath made! Enjoy the breeze on your skin and the birds chirping while you are blessed enough to be able to walk today.
*Looks around my house* Is this my last home? Will I die IN this house? IN this bed?
I’m going in for yet another surgery. Are my affairs in order? Did I tell my son I love him?
The boss wants me to work this weekend. Screw that! Who cares about the medical bills? They will get written off if I die. Its more important to have fun while I still can.
It’s funny how one’s circumstances affect how you think. Now that it seems I really AM a survivor, I have to go back to thinking and preparing for the future. I can stop focusing on myself so much and go back to putting other’s ahead of me.
Today’s sermon in church was all about freedom. The freedom God gave you with the gift of His son. It got me thinking about the freedom after cancer. It’s also not just a freedom FROM cancer, but the freedom TO do something more with the rest of your life.
Do I really want to go back to my old way of thinking? Sure, some of it is good. It’s good to have a future plan, to work towards something, to take measures to be secure and safe and leave something good behind. But what about all those thoughts that I was able to let go that made me a better person? Self deprecating body image thoughts (ok- I STILL do that, but not as bad), putting off seeing people and spending time with those I love because something else seemed more important, stressing out about what others thought of me, ..etc. I DON’T want that way of thinking to come back.
But it is SO easy to slide back into my old life. So easy, in fact, that I didn’t even realize I’m doing it until something comes up (God smacks me) to wake me back up. My struggle now is that I LIKE living a life that has a potentially long future to it. It means I’m LIVING.
But I don’t want to lose the good part of cancer thinking. The paying attention to and appreciating the little things. The new priorities. The feeling of peace knowing that I’m ready and prepared should tomorrow be my last day. I know it sounds weird -but getting cancer was actually a blessing for me. It woke me up. It showed me who my true friends were. What true priorities are. It helped me let go of angers, frustrations, old grudges. It taught me to let go of the petty things and look for the good in people and in situations.
Trust me, friends. THAT is the way you want to live.
Now if only I can keep the mindf*ck away and stay focused on those good things. My before and after shots are not something you can trick a camera with. And like dieting, it’s far too easy to go back to the BEFORE shot. At least the mindf*ck reminds me of that and it eventually steers my thinking back to the good AFTER of cancer.
So thank you, Lord. Thank you for showing me yet again how something I thought was bad can actually be used for good. May THAT thought over ride all others.