It’s About Perspective

I woke up yesterday to the sight of a fresh layer of snow on the ground. Most people were complaining, after all it is almost the end of April, but surprisingly I didn’t mind a bit. In fact, in an odd sort of way it felt right, almost comforting.

I realized it’s all about perspective. This same snowfall five months ago at the beginning of winter, at the expected more appropriate time, would have been considered welcome and breathtakingly beautiful. The sight is just as beautiful today; it’s only that our perspective has changed. Now people are tired of winter, snow, cold and this particular kind of beauty.

I don’t seem to mind spring slowing down.

Spring taking this step backward seems to coincide with my own reluctance to let go, but let go of what? It’s not like I want to hang on to winter or cancer. I certainly do not want to do either.

Perhaps it’s because seeing the flowers that only started poking through and blooming mere days ago looking fragile and bent, represents how I feel too. I am only beginning to “poke my head out of the ground.” I am only beginning to “come back to life.” Just like the bulbs are stirring, stretching, growing and trying to shoot out signs of renewal, I am attempting to do the same. Like the flowers, I admit I am still more than a little fragile and bent.

I am one year out from the day cancer made its first appearance in my life. I am supposed to be moving on. My husband even mentioned to me the other day, “You can’t live in the past. You have to try to look to the future.”

The trouble is, I can’t seem to forget, not yet. I don’t think it’s time.

Will I be caught in this vice-grip of cancer forever?

I don’t think so. I think the grip will slowly loosen. At least I hope so, but for how long? That’s the scary part for anyone with a diagnosis. That’s the part other people don’t really understand. We realize cancer’s grip can tighten up again at any moment in time.

My perspective on the whole cancer experience is changing and evolving since that first day last spring.

April 19, 2010 was the day of my “heart attack.”

It was the day I visited Urgent Care, reported what I thought were heart attack symptoms and was whisked off to the ER. It was the day the ER doctor didn’t take me seriously at first. “Everyone gets aches and pains at our age,” he half-jokingly told me.

It was the day of my clear EKG. It was the day I felt a little silly at first for being such a bother. It was the day a questionable blood marker showed itself. It was the day a C-scan was therefore ordered. It was the day of the mass sighting. It was the day my life as I knew it changed for good.

I got out my old journal and read my entry from that day a year ago. So much was still unknown on that first day. My perspective back then was quite different.

That day feels so long ago, but yet it feels like yesterday. Yes, I’ve come a long way, but it feels like there is still quite a stretch of the unknown ahead of me.

Just like it takes a year or more to complete the circle, so to speak, when you lose a loved one, it’s sort of the same for cancer. A year ago the person I lost was my old self. She’s gone. That’s just a fact. I’m still adjusting. I’ still figuring stuff out.

I want to move forward and let go, but I also feel a need to remember and reflect.

There’s still so much to figure out, even on this side, even from this perspective.

How has your prespective on cancer changed over time?

Does the “vice-grip” ever loosen?




20 thoughts to “It’s About Perspective”

  1. Nancy,

    Outstanding posting (and a beautiful picture). Yes, the day that cancer changes one’s life forever is never forgotten. I remember mine and every little detail like it was yesterday.

    The vice grip is different for each breast cancer patient. For me, it’s been a rollercoaster, which is common for people who have had breast cancer. I’ll go to a doctor, for example, and a blood test might showed elevated enzymes or whatever, and my panic SPIKES!! Then I’m reassured by doctors, and I’m relieved. Then I get a stress fracture, and the panic spikes again. For me, it’s been ups and downs and a rocky ride.

    But like you, I like to slow things down a bit to savor all that is wonderful in the world. The disease has permanently changed my perspective — for the better, I might add.

  2. I can only imagine what this ‘anniversary’ means to you. From reading your blog posts, I detect a strengthening, a clearer understanding, and such compassion for others who are going through a similar struggle. These are all good things. So relish the new blossoms and buds in your life as well as your garden!

  3. Excellent timing, Nancy. Though I suspect this will always feel like an appropriately timed message, unfortunately. A dear friend who walked the cancer path before me told me that now, for the rest of my life, every time I have a pain, a tingle, a nodule, I will fear it is cancer. She didn’t do that to scare me, though it did a bit. But she needed me to know I was being neither crazy nor melodramatic if the first place my brain went was “tumour.” And it really can be soul destroying, to lie awake at night, and worry about that new pain. To worry about making the appointment to go back to the oncologist because the first time, well, that appointment didn’t work out so well.

    I want the vice-grip to loosen. I really do. Because it is sure hard to imagine doing this for the rest of my life. I take comfort in Beth’s words – I too try to focus on my world with a new set of eyes. And I’m meeting the nicest people on this journey! Thanks for your friendship!


    1. Cyn, Thank you for for commenting. It’s interesting how your friend tried to warn you about worriesome thoughts creeping in. I’m finding many people have these same thoughts and worries, at least from time to time. The trick is to not let the vice-grip choke you I guess! Thanks for your support and friendship as well, Cyn.

  4. Nancy, I can’t believe it’s only been one year for you. You have been through so much in such a short period of time and yet you write about it from a place of reflection that could only come with time. I don’t know how you do it. I think you’ll find the vice-grip (perfect term) loosen. It really hasn’t been that long for all you’ve been through. Give yourself time to figure it out.

    1. Stacey, Thanks for your comments. I always look forward to your perspective on things. You’re right, it hasn’t been that long. I thought about that today as I sat in the clinic for another plastic surgeon visit. My husband and I were somewhat awestruck as we sat there thinking about our first visit with him and all that has transpired since then. It is kind of mind boggling. Hopefully time does settle things down.

  5. Nancy,
    I have to agree with Stacey, a year really isn’t a long time. (and you just had surgery)You still a lot to process. I know what you mean about the vice-grip hold cancer can have, I hope it loosens soon. I am seeing glimpses of “normal” again…but then there is always the shadow of cancer in the background. I am hoping the passage of time will help.

    1. Garden Lady, Thank you for commenting and understanding. I’m happy you are seeing those glimpses of normal again, that’s a good way to put it. Like you, I hope the passage of time helps.

  6. I think just about everyone is afraid of getting cancer, because we all THINK we could get cancer. But those of us who have had cancer, KNOW we could get cancer, because we did. That’s why our fear is so much greater than that of others.

    I also believe that the more in-depth or complicated one’s cancer treatment is, the tighter the vice grip. One friend of mine had a simple lumpectomy and is back to work – no problem. My cancer treatment left me with a constant pain that is untreatable and will be with me the rest of my life. My vise grip is forever stuck. But we must all strive for some level of normalcy in spite of the vice grip. I’m back to work too. It took me over two years to just begin to start “healing”.

    It’s a slow process, you’ve been through a war. It’s hard to recover. My prayers are with you.


    1. Dianne, You raised some really good points that I had not really even thought about. Thank you so much for sharing them here. And you’re right, it is a war of sorts, isn’t it? I’m glad you are reaching some level of normalcy againy, Dianne.

  7. Hi Nancy,

    Beautiful picture of the snow – we’re in the middle of really high temperatures here in London for this time of year.

    I just updated my own blog then popped over to yours to see how you’re doing and was really stopped in my tracks. What you’ve written is so similar to how I’ve been feeling this month – a year ago last April was also my diagnosis date.
    I’ve been troubled for the past few weeks now with how much I detest this month, how much I detest cancer and what it does to us – how it takes people from us and just changes everything.

    Like you, I feel I want to and need to move forward (and *have* done, in some respects) but I also want to be able to reflect and even to feel angry at times too.

    Hugs Nancy – it’ll get easier to get it all into perspective as time goes by maybe?

    1. Carole, Thank you for coming by and commenting, I’ve been wondering how you’re doing. I didn’t realize your diagnosis was last April too. I understand your feelings and how you’ve felt troubled of late, plus you lost a friend recently too. I’m sorry for that. I say go ahead and feel whatever you need to, even the anger. Keep in touch, Carole.

  8. Nancy, congratulations on your one-year anniversary! That is a huge milestone. Feeling death to the old self after diagnosis is such a normal feeling. I’m now 16 years out from my first bout with cancer and 8 years out from the second bout. I can say that cancer lost its vice-grip on me (I like that term vice-grip). It still hovers in the background, but doesn’t feel like it’s lurking anymore, ready to pounce. And it’s not front and center in my thoughts and speech as it used to be.

    It’s like grieving over the loss of a loved one. You never forget the person, and are forever changed because of the loss, but over time the emotions mellow and age like a good wine. I don’t know how else to express it, at least in my case.

    Again, congrats, and keep on writing! There’s nothing more therapeutic and we all benefit from from your musings.

    X0X00X, Jan

    1. Jan, Thank you for your thoughts. It’s always good to hear what you think since you are further out from this stuff. You seem to have such a positive perspective on things and I admire that.

  9. Nancy, I remember during my first year post diagnosis people said to me, ‘it’s early days’ and I thought it was ages actually! But I see now (now in my fifth year post diagnosis) that they were right. The enormity of a cancer diagnosis takes a long time to process, and of course you’ve also just had surgery to recover from.
    Like you I’ve needed time to ‘remember and reflect’ and I think writing helped me. Then the moving forward can slowly happen, but only at a pace that feels right for you. Best, Sarah

    1. Sarah, It’s good to see you coming by. Maybe some of us are just slower processors! We all have our own pace, I like that and I agree the writing helps tremendously. Thanks for your comments, Sarah.

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