Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes

Life is a precious gift. Don't waste it being ...

Life is a precious gift. Don’t waste it being unhappy, dissatisfied, or anything else you can be (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Developing cancer has changed my whole world.

Many of the changes have been outside of my control for example the results of surgery.  The outcome is inoffensive enough yet it serves as a permanent reminder that I’ve been touched by something very sinister. Every time I see myself I note the scar marking the place something truly awful lurked inside, something so horrible that it would have killed me quite soon had I not decided to act quickly.  The results of my treatment – chemotherapy and herceptin –  equally outside of my control.  Dr C cannot tell me if or how effective these rather harsh treatments have proven because every cancer patient is different. There are statistics but who amongst us fits the profile? That’s anyone’s guess.  The only thing all cancer patients have in common is that there are no guarantees. Every day post-diagnosis is something to be happy for, even when those days are marred by pain, ulcers, nose bleeds, stomach problems, fatigue, insomnia, immobility and drug induced illness.

The way other people treated me has also been outside my control. I’ve tried to remain upbeat, retain a sense of humour and  focus on what’s good in life when at times I felt (and thought) the easiest thing would be to give up, accept the misery of the situation and take the easy way out.  Taking the easy way out is not really my thing though which is just as well because some of my experiences have been nothing short of shocking.  In spite of all this, the sinister presence of cancer and people who appear to have had the compassion and common-sense equivalent of a pre-frontal lobotomy  I’m still here, I’m feeling stronger every day and best of all, I’m free.

I hope I’m cancer free but won’t get that news for another 4 years. Even then I won’t be taking it for granted because cancer isn’t that simple.   Today my sense of freedom stems entirely from the fact that I no longer have to put up with politics, inflated egos, posturing or positioning.  I’m not enslaved in an environment that’s at best noxious and at worst the complete opposite of what it thinks it is.  I’m not a burden on the state and neither am I beholden to anyone. I pay my taxes, recycle my garbage and abide by the law – I’m as free as any of us can get these days.

Achieving this new-found freedom hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to give up so many things, accept life won’t be the same again and come to terms with  heartbreaking losses that will never be recovered.   Important losses, not trivial material things that have no real meaning when all is said and done. Material things can be replaced.

Losing my friends and colleagues, at least from a work sense,  has been tough. Finally holding leaving drinks with them last week brought everything sharply into focus. I worked with some very good people and the depth of camaraderie is difficult to walk away from. I was deeply touched by the comments they made, the loss they felt and the things they saw in me that I was unable to see in myself. Last year was far from pleasant, the tail end of the year before wasn’t brilliant either (my mother-in-law died and the circumstances of her death left an indelible mark on my memory) but I was truly blessed to meet such wonderful people and spend even a tiny proportion of my life with them.

Being separated from my best friends and my family for large chunks of time while my life was a merry-go-round of medical appointments, drugs, drugs and more drugs wore away at my soul like sand erodes boulders in the desert.  My family and friends persevered even when I was limited to telephone and email instead of seeing them in person; in doing so they helped show there was something worth waiting for when I’m finally allowed beyond the boundary of hells antechamber and returned to my real life. The scary monsters ambushing me from all angles have been counteracted by the depth of relationship I have with my brilliant Dad and a small group of people who stood by me as true and dear friends.

Life has a funny way of driving kindred spirits together and for a variety of reasons last week served as a sound reminder that whatever happens those who are genuine and who genuinely care are never far away.  I’m  certain  there is no need to be dismayed at goodbyes. They’re  just a blip in the space-time continuum,  a temporary inconvenience and nothing more.  True friends endure all the moments, good and bad that go to make up a lifetime.  I will always be here for them as they are for me.  Sometimes good things come from bad experiences. There really is no point wasting your life being unhappy, dissatisfied or bored because its short, very short.  Cancer teaches you that.

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15 thoughts on “Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes

  1. So many lessons to be learned. The power of the lesson’s effect is generally related to the effort it took in learning it. Clearly cancer is a cruel, tireless master who pushes his ‘subjects’ relentlessly. The lessons, so learned, are truly great, but so, too has been the cost.
    Now is a time for healing; a time for letting it settle in; a time to start making sense of it all.
    By the way, across the ocean, fingers and toes are crossed :>)
    One more thing: as for the friends lost, as I see it, you are exiting this with about the same number you entered with. One of the lessons has been how to spot the real ones.
    As always–all the best!

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    • I always find you comments full of wisdom and inspiration Maurice, you brighten the darkest of days which is a true gift of friendship. You help me in ways you may not imagine and for that I will always be enormously grateful. I would probably never have made friends across the ocean were it not for this experience which shows that even in the most troubled times good things are not forsaken. I send warm wishes and friendship to you across the ocean:-)

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  2. Tracy in reading your post you truly inspire me as a positive person.I have been watching my mom battle breast cancer for almost three years now.It has and continues to be a very rough road and its not always easy to stay positive and strong through it all.As i have already said your posts are inspiring.You are so right life is much too short to take anything for granted.Wishing you all the best.
    Roxanne

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    • I’m sorry your Mum has been battling this disease Roxanne, and I’m sorry you have to witness it as I did with my Mum. It can be difficult to remain positive when everything seems to difficult for so long but when time is precious (as it is for all of us, we just don’t realise when we think we have many years ahead of us) there really is no point in letting it slip by in sadness or dismay. I’ll be thinking of you and your Mum and send her strength and endure to keep strong her battle.

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  3. I so deeply believe that good friends – whether you only meet them once, or move to the other side of the world, or don’t catch up for several years – with the very good friends there is always that connection, and once together again the friendship doesn’t miss a beat.

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    • That’s so true, the really good friends endure no matter where we are, what has happened or how good/bad things seem. I’m lucky to have some good friends and a small but wonderful family

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  4. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,”
    Shakespeare, Henry V

    Take out the gendered terms and this speech applies to your band of tried and tested friends, Tracy. You are free and you are blessed with wonderful friends and family. What more need I? (Sounds like a Shakespeare quote, but I’m not sure it is one.) {{{hugs]}} Kozo

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    • dearest Kozo, you have so many ways of making me smile, warming my heart and brightening my day, you are truly wonderful and Im so pleased to know you xoxox

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  5. Beautiful post, Tracy. I am sorry for everything you’ve been going though. I’m glad that through all of the bad, you’ve had people who love you and care about you to soften the blows. Of course that doesn’t change how horrible all of this is — and how much I wish life were fair. You certainly wouldn’t have had to deal with any of this if life were fair.
    Thinking of you xoxo

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    • Thank you Leisha, I can say the same for you, you endure so much and are so full of grace, goodness and warmth. Its hard to comprehend why life has chosen to treat you this way and I wish it wasn’t so. You’re a shining light for us all xoxox

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  6. Cancer’s reminder that life is too short to be miserable was a motivating factor in my “take this job and shove it” action last year. Now, that action taught me some truths about people–not good ones. Oh well, life better off without them I guess.

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    • I’d rather live whatever time I have with decent people in my life than a thousand lifetimes with the other kind of people. I think you’re better off without them in the end

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