If this would have been a year like the ones before, I would be in Mallorca right now. Walking along the ocean. Enjoying the island atmosphere. Having breakfast on the terrace. Having time.
But it isn't. So instead of being there, I long to be there. And visit moments from me-in-Mallorca. Like this island diary from 2013. Or the stream of blog entries that come up when I enter the blog tag mallorca. which starts with the photo of a shadow stairway, and with this quote:"every journey is an own person".
Another place I re-visited today: Neil Gaiman's journal. I came there looking for his reflections on freedom of speech, but it was his new year's wish that got under my skin:
So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it.
We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.
Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand. Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin. Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love. (Here's the original blog entry: New Year Wish.)
Since days, I want to write a longer blog post on how things are here, on this journey through chemotherapy, or rather: through cancerland.
Today was rough, not so much because of how I am doing physically (on the okay side, apart from back/neck-tensions since a week that won't go away. "You look tense even when you sleep," my partner said. I now arranged a set of massages, and hopefully the physio can give me advice on how to deal with it), but because it was chemo day today. Chemo #8 of the Paclitaxel ones, with 4 more to go.
Arriving there, I walked into a conversation of two of my fellow chemo patients. One is dealing with numb toes, a common side-effect of Paclitaxel. It's one of my fears right now, that some of my fingers and toes will turn numb, too (this side-effect can last up to a year, or longer). But so far the prickling/numb feeling always went away again. Yet it seems, when it moves to permanent state, then mostly at the end, like a bad "almost got through and then I got you"-joke.
But the really bad news is that another of the current fellow patients, who had the same diagnosis of early stage breast cancer, now has a lung tumor. Which has developed during chemo. It's scary. And a reminder that yes, prognosis is good, but....
It was good to go for walk afterwards, not along the ocean, but around some nearby lake.
And sit there, for a bit, and feel this touch of Mallorca at home.
And think of yet another fellow patient, one who arrived a bit later, and is going through treatments for the second time, 3 years after she completed all treatments and was "all good again". As that's what you do when you find that there are things that have gone wrong again, despite the treatment: you keep working on that, towards healing.
We also joked about the treatments itself, how in 20 years, there hopefully will be a simple pill or an injection against cancer. And how we will look back then and laugh about this odd dark-age-like burn-and-poison-and-radiate-approach that is the current state-of-art-of-medicine when it comes to cancer.
Another thought from the lake: how there is so much trouble in the world that is normal. Like, when you count all usual traffic accidents, and all usual hospital dramas, and added each up with a news-drama-tag, it would be breaking head line news every day, with tenthousands of life stories involved. Only it's the common daily scattered individual drama, apart when there is a celebrity involved.
And looking at the calendar, this is where I am: it's week 20 of chemo (yes. 20 weeks. in the start, i tried to ignore the number, and lived week by week). Four more weeks, and with it, 4 more chemos to come for me. Then there will be radiation. The last chemo will be at the end of May. This month of spring that carries the twisting nature of life in it: all the things that may happen...
The shadow/light journey:
I marked all blog posts about this shadow journey with a tag: C is for cancer, and for courage, too. The previous longer post is: intense, anger, hope, spring & the larger picture, it also includes a sorted overview of posts, starting at the beginning.