Find what you love

And let it kill you….

This is a Charles Bukowski quote. I like it because it makes sense. Why would any of us want to be killed by something we don’t like?

I tried cancer or rather it tried me, I didn’t welcome it into my life. To date a combination of trusting instincts, taking action quickly and an oncoplastic surgeon and oncologist who both adopt a ‘take no prisoners’ approach helped ensure it had limited chances to move elsewhere. Places where it might later take the opportunity to curtail my life.

Though the treatments have been best in class I am not complacent. Suspicion is an inevitable trait when you inhabit a body that’s let you down. Striking a balance between healthy concern and paranoia is key. Anomalies, functional changes and aches and pains make me suspicious even though I know some of them predate cancer. There’s no way of knowing when the first cell went haywire and research suggests it takes 5 years for a tumour to become palpable. 5 years is quite a long time for unchecked cellular chaos to prevail.

Many cancer patients live with ongoing suspicion and significant worries about what the future might hold. I’m happy with healthy suspicion because deep down none of us really knows what lies ahead. Whether we’ve been touched by cancer or not, life is unpredictable and we could just as easily be killed in traffic accidents or freak storms. Finding something we love and letting that kill us sounds an altogether better option and even if it happens to be cancer in the end, time spent on the things we love is the most beautiful, exhilarating and fulfilling time available to any of us.

Making space for the things we love is almost like starting life anew, with a few more wrinkles and white hairs than the first time around in my case! This year for the first time in far too many years I’ve given time to the things I love, not just the things I’m obliged to do. There’s a sketch book full of drawings and paintings that I have no doubt at all will outlive me. Maybe one day they’ll be treasured by some future grandchildren 🙂 Creating something from pencil or paint and paper offers an opportunity to escape from everyday tasks into somewhere tranquil and serene. Isn’t that the way heaven is meant to be? If so then death through art sounds much more appealing than cancer!

Idle doodlings :-)

Art is my recharge mechanism especially during the long winter months when it’s too wet, cold or dark to get into the garden. When the seasons change being outside with nature is another love that seems altogether more appealing than some of the things that eat up my time.

Although we’re barely into Spring, there’s an old fashioned cottage garden that’s worth every ounce of effort that’s gone into it, a townhouse garden that seems to have relished all the thought underpinning its creation and a new season of vegetables, herbs and fruit beginning to sprout – peas, beans, tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, chives, garlic, parsley, strawberries, loganberries, apples, green gages, rhubarb and plums to name a few. Buying organic produce is expensive, growing it is a worthwhile labour of love even if it is responsible for some of the suspicious aches and pains.

image

I have many other loves. The people who are dear to me, my darling cats who remained faithful even when I kept them away during chemo, music, travel, cooking, photography and walking.  From time to time I can even throw decorating, renovating and repairing things into the mix.

At least I know I’ll never die of boredom and I’m hopeful I won’t die of cancer though that one isn’t a given. With luck I’ll simply slip away under the cherry tree one sunny afternoon having completed my best sketch ever at an age where I can happily be called ancient and extraordinarily eccentric 🙂

Until then I’m going to do the things I love and encourage you all to do likewise.

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23 thoughts on “Find what you love

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: The Other Lives Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  2. A friend of mine told me, when I was a leetle too angry for my own liking, to do what I love the most. It’s such a simple yet utterly helpful way to make the best of the time we have on this silly Earth. Talking of Earth.. your garden looks like a heavenly delight! 🙂

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  3. “Suspicion is an inevitable trait when you inhabit a body that’s let you down. Striking a balance between healthy concern and paranoia is key.” I want to take those sentences with me to all future medical appointments, and use it with a few other social interactions I have. You’ve really explained it, hopefully so others can “get it”.

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    • I’m not sure the medical profession help us much in this respect. Vagueness seems to prevail and much is left to chance. We are, I think, right where we were in the beginning – if we don’t apply vigilance there’s always the possibility we’ll slip through the net. I’d like to forget about the whole lot of it but I don’t trust medicine to tell me if anything else is going awry.

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  4. It’s so great to see that things are on a far greater path then they were even this time just last year. You’ve had a productive winter–I’ve read and seen some wonderful, hopeful posts. Now, with spring, things–all things–are starting to flower. So very good to see it!
    I admit to being envious, not only of your well-underway garden but also of the mild weather that helps it along. We’re not quite into spring just yet, but tomorrow does hold promise. After three days of light snow we may finally see double-digit temperatures.

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    • Your climate fascinates me, it must call for a certain one-ness with nature that many across the world never quite appreciate and a hardiness that isn’t found in city folks from warmer climbs. Life for me is different. Much has been lost, some has been gained. I’ve found out more about my inner strength and conviction than I’d otherwise have known, but must admit I’m glad for Spring, for the unthinking activities that come along with it – walking, gardening, absorbing the blossoms and the busy nest-building birds.

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  5. Tracy your art and your garden are beautiful. I am glad that you have been able to work on both activities. I know you’ve had so much difficulty with your joints. The balance between fear of recurrence and hopefulness is tricky indeed. We must remain vigilant and still live a life that is full of things besides cancer.

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    • I’ve always felt we’re in this together Elizabeth, and that we’re in together for the long haul with plenty of healthy years ahead of us. We’ve both had plenty of extra stuff to contend with on top of the cancer but I remain an optimistic realist if that makes any sense. Whatever happens, we find a way through.

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  6. dear Tracy,

    thank you for showing us your drawings, paintings, and you garden – all such beautiful works of art. and I am amazed to read both you and GM sometimes like to dream about the end! me, too, but thought I was definitely out in left field crazy town. however, I liken it to something deeply creative and calming and comforting, making those images in my head. I, too, am a painter, so in love with color – and that adds to all the meandering scenarios. wonderful and inspiring post – thank you!

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

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    • You aren’t out in left field crazy town Karen 🙂 I think its unusual, not something everyone would want to do, but being creatively minded and willing to entertain such thoughts gives us a way to visualise the end as a little less intimidating, a little more peaceful and be at one with it rather than fighting what is ultimately inevitable. For a very long time I had a terrible relationship with death due to witnessing my Mother’s final moments. That coupled with her treatment experiences had me convinced that chemo would kill me leaving my family as lost and debilitated as I’d been. Getting to grips with all this took time but the fear doesn’t permeate my every morsel anymore and I’ll gladly take other people thinking I’m crazy over the vice-like grip of raw, irrational fear.

      Sending much love to you and days filled with beautiful colour and light xoxox

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  7. “…death through art sounds much more appealing than cancer!” I love that quote. And I’m more than happy to hear and see that you are back to enjoying your loves.

    That Bukowski quote scares me a bit as some of the things I love, well let’s just say they should be taken with a grain of salt 🙂 Probably why I like him so much; he challenges my fears.

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    • Thanks Gloria, I think a little healthy challenging of fears is a good thing and hopefully it helps us see that there are very few things we really need to be afraid of. I’m all for death through art, will happily shrug off this mortal coil mid brush stroke with a little sigh and that’s it… I guess we have a right to dream about the end, not just the bit in the middle 🙂

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      • I do that, dream about the end. Not in a morbid sense. Sometimes when I’m creating and listening to good music, I feel like I could die peacefully in that state.

        I’m all for working on taking the creepiness out of my fears 🙂

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