December 26, 2017
Today is our Cancerversary. Exactly one year ago, we ended up at the hospital with Calum, never to return to life before cancer. In so many ways it feels like yesterday, but I know we have come so, so far from where we were a year ago.
If you have read my updates, without being able to truly know everything, you know a lot of what we have been through this year. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading along and allowing me to express myself. Thank you for your replies and for your words of support and strength. Thank you for the outpouring of love you have showed our family in our darkest days which truly lifted us out of the shadows.
If I may, today, I would like to share a little of what I have learned about myself and about life this year. When this first happened to Calum I found myself asking “why” and “how” so often. I wanted to assign meaning to it all. Why would a child ever get cancer? How did my child get cancer? What I have come to find out, is that, it isn’t personal. There are good things that happen in life and there are bad things, and everyone experiences both on varying degrees. The things that happen in the world or in our lives are not actually happening “to us”, they are just happening. The only thing in life that we can control is how we act or react to a situation. The way you decide to interpret an event or an experience will dictate the way you behave going forward and, if you work very hard to make the best of a bad situation, you can overcome it. Do not let your mind get trapped going down the rabbit hole of how things could have or should have played out in life. The sooner you can accept an obstacle for what it is or what it was, the sooner you will find a way to move around it, though sometimes, moving around it is simply learning to accept it.
I lived a lot of my life feeling anxious, some of it warranted but, most of it, completely fabricated. Part of the reason I worried so much is because I convinced myself that events that only occurred by happenstance, had real meaning. I would see or hear something that elicited a feeling, which could send me into a spiral of worry. I can now recognize that a feeling is just a feeling, and should not be confused as a sign for what the future holds. Even during the times I worried most over the last year, like throughout Calum’s Delayed Intensification cycle where he was so sick and vulnerable, he recovered. I spent the months leading up to that, and all 56 days of it, convincing myself that something awful could happen because of how anxious I felt, and that my anxiety must have meant something. It wasn’t easy and parts of it truly were awful, but he made it to the other side without any of my gravest worries transpiring. I know now that my worrying was done in vain because, since living through my life’s greatest fear, I am OK too.
Moving into the New Year, I am going to try to do that every day. I am not going to allow fear or resentment or even grievances cloud the way I behave or think. I am going to try to recognize it, and I am going to go beyond it. I will make an effort to remind myself that we are in control of our feelings and I am not going to waste my time worrying anxiously about what may or may not happen to us. I am deeply grateful for learning some important lessons this year, and I am going to look forward to life ahead and using these tools I have gained.
I can’t say much more about today outside of the fact that it is a momentous day for our family. This night last year, I hugged Mike on a cot in a hospital room and cried until the morning. I had no idea what was in front of us and, though I hoped for the best, I feared the worst. I prayed and prayed and prayed to wake up from a bad dream. I continued to contemplate for days if it was still all just a dream. Tonight, we took the kids to Calum’s favorite restaurant for dinner and he ate more food than Faye. That’s a lot of food, and he probably could have kept going. He laughed and even misbehaved a little (it was mostly Faye misbehaving, in all honesty). After dinner, we drove around to look at some Christmas lights and Calum commented how one fantastically overdone house must have been Santa’s workshop. We got home at bedtime and headed right upstairs and, as we tucked Calum into bed tonight, with hair on his head and pink in his cheeks, I couldn’t help but notice how amazing reality is.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.