Life is always changing and evolving. Change is an unstoppable force that we often have no control over. Change just happens.
Watching the leaves turn brilliant shades of crimson, gold and yellow this week reminds me of how powerless we are to stop change. The green foliage of summer has been miraculously transformed into spectacular hues of autumn. Fall seems to come and go too quickly. Just when everything looks so breathtakingly beautiful, the leaves begin to silently drop off. People seem almost frantic in their attempts to take in the beauty before it disappears. Many take fall color sight-seeing drives, spend one more weekend boating or dig out their cameras to capture the color display. Everyone knows more change is coming and soon.
“I wish these days could last a while longer,” I’ve heard numerous people say this past week. In Wisconsin we all know the next change will perhaps look and feel a bit more bleak as the trees become bare and “settle in” for a long winter.
Cancer brings change too, not in an orderly predictable manner like the changing of the seasons, but in a disruptive boldness interrupting the smoothness of your life. At first cancer feels like an insurmountable intruder whose momentum cannot be stopped or even slowed. In the beginning I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of my diagnosis, all the appointments, procedures, unanswerable questions and too many fears to even begin to list. Cancer felt like a tidal wave threatening to wash me away.
But somewhere along the way I changed; I adapted, even to cancer. My whole family did. My husband David started calling me a survivor and I started to believe him. My kids found even greater maturity facing their new reality of a mother with cancer, adding more responsibilities and learning important lessons about life. Extended family and friends adapted as well, taking on their new role of support team. We all changed and adapted. Bit by bit we built up our own personal dam to slow down the “monster wave.” Some days the dam leaks a bit and fresh fear and anxiety seep in, but we are getting better at plugging up the holes.
I often read on other cancer blogs about the positive changes cancer brings to lives. Cancer survivors almost always talk about a new appreciation for family, friends and life in general. Simple pleasures are no longer taken for granted, career paths are sometimes altered, relationships strengthened and improved and new meaning is found in just living each new day. Some people even call getting cancer a gift. I am most certainly no where near that point. I don’t think I will ever be able to call cancer a gift. Maybe that comes later. Cancer has taken too much, but I understand what people mean when they say things like that.
I do know that change happens; cancer happens. Cancer and change are intertwined. How cancer changes us is up to us. I’m still trying to figure all of this change out.
How has cancer (yours or someone else’s) changed you?