Shatterproof

It’s just over two years since cancer darkened my doorstep, turned my world upside down and ripped away some irreplaceable parts of my life.   The body I live in is not the one I grew up with, the scars I carry aren’t restricted to my chest and my days are all a little less carefree than they used to be. Cancer is cunning so ongoing vigilance is unavoidable. Vigilance means thinking about it, checking for it, watching, listening, monitoring, observing. The last thing a cancer patient wants to do is think about cancer, the sensible thing is to remain forever aware.

Recently I returned for a follow-up mammogram, part of standard cancer patient after care. (According to NICE guidelines I should be offered an MRI – so far that hasn’t been forthcoming and doubtless it’s all down to cost). The mammogram result came through earlier this week with a letter that says “there were no signs of abnormality which is obviously reassuring news.” I struggle to get excited about it or breathe even the smallest sigh of relief because this news isn’t completely reassuring. I had a false-negative result before and a piece of paper stating no sign of abnormality could so easily have sealed my fate. Fortunately I favoured instincts over x-rays on that occasion, a decision that almost certainly added a few years to my life.

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Its only now, a while down the line, that I can look back with some clarity and say the last two years have been  physically, emotionally and psychologically tough. The profound uncertainties, constant ambiguity, twists and turns of every medical procedure all the while never quite knowing if the picture was complete and true. The disappearing acts, privation and injustices, because a broken spirit is, of course, the ideal accompaniment for a broken body and traumatised mind. The toll of treatment, the obvious and not so obvious impairments and the side-effects that are permanent not temporary. The maelstrom raging over the last couple of years might have proven all-consuming, it’s  brutality, ferocity and relentlessness shattering mind, body and spirit into a kaleidoscope of jagged shards each too small and uneven to form anything other than an unsightly mess.

I’ve learnt a good deal through this tumult of experiences. The instability, nihilism, dispossession and  separateness. The labels help paint an accurate representation of a time that rendered more chaos and confusion than any other in my life. Yet I’m here and they’re just labels. They summarise a point in time but they are not me. . .    It seems unlikely anyone could endure a period like this without being a tiny bit broken as a result, but this damage doesn’t have to be irreparable. I will always be incomplete, imperfect and scarred and in spite of those things I’ve learnt what it means to be unrelenting,  intrepid and shatterproof.

 

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12 thoughts on “Shatterproof

  1. Beautifully written ~ we find hidden strengths within when we face the battle for our very lives. The lessons learned by the endurance of cancer with all its ugliness, stay with us even if 13 years later, they become less noticeable to the common eye. The scars are more than skin deep, but the love that dwells within us far outweighs the tortured parts of our souls. We earn our way to help others who need support, love and inspiration and together we hold hands and strive to bring more love into our lives. ♥

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  2. Hi Tracy I admire your strength to keep positive, life has its twists and turns some good some bad.my life was turned upside down 20years ago twice in 1994.2years later so was yours but so far we have survived .keep thinking positive we have to stay strong for the remaining members of our family ,thinking of you always love Aunty Linda xxxxxx

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    • It is so difficult isn’t it. We do seem to have had more than our fair share of trauma and heartache between us all. I hope at some point our luck will change but in the meantime you’re right, we have to stay positive and strong. You have been a source of inspiration to me for a very long time because of the events 20 years ago and all that you’ve been through since whilst yet retaining a lovely outlook and a heart warming smile. Sending you lots of love and hoping to catch up with you and Dad soon xoxoxo

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    • Thank you Carolyn, you know what all of this is like, where it can take us and how to keep going in spite of everything. I hope you’re doing ok, you’re never far from my thoughts xoxox

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    • Thanks Nancy, it’s taken some quiet reflective moments to work this through and get a proper sense of where I was and where I am now and it’s good to know that Im not alone in this transition.

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    • It’s a strange feeling isn’t it, I’m glad we both share a sense of resilience after the trials of the last few years. Hoping all is well with you Elizabeth xoxox

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