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The Summer That Wasn’t

As the Fourth of July holiday comes and goes, some say summertime is just gearing up and others say summer is half over already. Summer conjures up many childhood memories for me, as I’m sure it does for you, too. Every year when school was let out and summer months stretched ahead, brimming with possibility, free time, relaxed expectations, family vacations and just hanging out, it felt like time slowed down for those three months. But in reality, those summer months disappeared far more quickly it seemed, than the others. Before we knew it, summer was over.

How I look at summer has changed, probably for good. Sometimes I think how I look at just about everything has changed. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I just know it’s true.

Summer now conjures up memories of last summer, which I refer to as ‘the summer that wasn’t’. Last summer was filled with unpleasantness, like too many doctor appointments to keep track of.

Now summer reminds me of my bilateral, uncomfortable tissue expanders and pain pills. Summer reminds me of chemotherapy and trying to prepare for it when I had no idea how to do that. Summer reminds me of sleepless nights spent on my blue, leather sofa where I tried to squelch down irrational thoughts that seeped into my mind more easily in the dark. Summer reminds me of wig shopping on a hot, humid July afternoon when the last thing I wanted to do was try on wigs that felt too tight and made me look like somebody else. Summer reminds me of eating tasteless food and trying to drink gallons of metallic tasting water to wash chemo toxins from my system, which always sounded contradictory to me because didn’t I need those toxins to stay in my body for as long as possible so they could better do their job of killing off renegade cancer cells? Summer reminds me about the hair dilemma I wrestled with, the one about shaving it all off or not when it started falling out. I didn’t.

Of course, some memories about last summer are good ones. My family rallied. Everyone pitched in. Tasks were divided up. Things got done, at least the important things. We learned how to distinguish between the important stuff and the ‘we can let that slide’ stuff. Implementing this distinction still comes in quite handy!

Last summer also had special occasions. One of my nieces got married, which of course, was on a very hot, sultry August afternoon, definitley not a day intended for wig wearing. Daughter dressed up and looked beautiful as a bridesmaid in said wedding. One of my nephews became a dad for the first time. These were special summertime things.

Ordinary summertime things kept happening as well. Flowers bloomed. Boats drove by on our little lake. We watched baseball games, visited relatives and went to a few summertime movies.

Life went on ‘like usual’. Cancer disrupts life, but it doesn’t stop it.

My family and I carried on and attempted to act as normal as we could, which really wasn’t normal at all.

And just like all the summers that came before it, last summer, too, passed quickly.

Now ‘the summer that wasn’t’, is kind of a blur, but at the same time, it’s eerily vivid and clear in my mind.

If I choose, I can replay every detail, but when I do, it feels almost as if I am watching a movie about someone else’s life. How could those things have happened in my life?

I feel detached from the experiences of last summer even though I know I am not. It’s an odd sensation.

I still find it all quite unbelievable.

Mostly, this summer I am grateful it’s not last summer, ‘the summer that wasn’t’.

Have you had a summer (or other season) you would like to forget, but can’t?

How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? 

What is one of your summer memories?

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 The summer that wasn't

Kim Hayes

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

For me it was Thanksgiving and Christmas 2017 that wasn’t. Actually most is 2018 as well. I try to think back to that time for events and I can’t seem to remember any from that time without a struggle. I was working in a school district part time and as fall of that year came I thought to myself I could do this for the next 5 years or so until I was at retirement age. Well,with all of the appointments and miscommunication through it all the school let me go. So now 2 years older it’s difficult to find a job. It makes me sad that breast cancer took that away from me.


Thursday 11th of July 2019

Kim, I'm sorry the school let you go. That must've hurt. Like I always say, breast cancer is a string of losses. I hope you're able to find work you want and are able to do. Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing.

Susan Zager

Saturday 6th of July 2013

Nancy, I really understand the summer that wasn't for you and it is so fresh in your mind. I know how hot it was under a wig during the warmest times in the summer. The itching and the sweating was intense.

At the same time I feel blessed that I have had more time away from that time as I try to mend and heal so many intense memories. I also know the joy of family surrounding me and how lucky I was to have that during such a difficult time.

For that I feel blessed and grateful because things turned and it was time for me to help my brother who had to deal with so much change in his world.

You have taught me a phrase that I hear in my mind so many times that helps and that is that we just have to keep on keepin'. In that spirit I wish you a very happy 4th and hope that you can feel all of the love surrounding you.

Your writing is so beautiful and I love the way you bring me along with your journey as you have me reflect on mine.

Hugs and xoxo - Susan


Monday 8th of July 2013

Susan, Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You always say the nicest things.


Saturday 6th of July 2013

I love your posts, Nancy, but at some point in them I always feel like I'm taking in a big suck of air when they hit home. It happens every time! Great writing!


Monday 8th of July 2013

Bev, Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you find meaning in my writing - that's what motivates me to keep at it!

Five years. Stuck on my eyes. « Being Sarah

Wednesday 13th of July 2011

[...] Point writes about The summer that wasn’t…. I can so relate to that. My fifth summer now since diagnosis, missed the first one with [...]


Tuesday 12th of July 2011

, I'm going to try again to send a comment, I think my last comment went twice because it all of a sudden disappeared. In the interest of not having "the summer that wasn't", I recieved a call about my latest yearly MRI on July 6th to come in for an ultra sound and maybe a MRI needle biopsy the next day for a "Focus" spot, to get a better look at it. I had reservations for 19 days in Maui with my daughter and grandson, so I kept my reservations and left. So here I am sitting on the lanai having a wonderful vacation! I later saw my written test results via e-mail and it is a "5mm focus" (ABOUT THE SIZE OF THE TIP OF AN ERASER ON A PENCIL) I was totally clear of cancer in April by mamogram and blood work. My sister and neighbor think I am foolhardy. But from my perspective I beat cancer 13 years ago with three lumectomys (I think it's 13), I lived through severe pancreitis 2 years ago, when I was in the hospital for 43 days. I have a beloved sister who died of cancer, plus 3 cousins and I was with a dear friend when she did after a five year battle with ovarian cance. I am 70 years old and feel blessed by the extra years I have been given. A fun vacation creates memories. If it is the worst, which it probably is because I'm a Brac II carrier, I've had a great vacation before I drop into the cancer treatment abyss! This time I will have to have a mascetomy and Chemo. So I won't have "the summer that never was" this year. More on topic, I had a great fourth,I took a friend, just recovering from surgery, to a fund raiser picnic at the Elks. Took her home to rest and picked her up later for dinner and fireworks. We had a great time! Prayers for all of you! Aloha, Betty


Tuesday 12th of July 2011

Betty, Thank you for commenting and I hate hearing about that "focus" spot. It's incredible the words they come up with for this stuff. I think you made a good decsion for YOU to go ahead and take that vacation. You are absolutely right about the memories you are creating. I will be thinking of you, Betty, as you find out more. And what a nice thing you did for your friend on the Fourth. Take care and keep in touch.

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