Gripping On To The Wreckage

My mind has been completely scrambled for the past two weeks. It wasn’t just a matter of cruising down that famous river in Egypt, denial. I was heading Tsunami style, gripping on to the wreckage of life before cancer. Nothing will change. I can work full time. I’ve got this. This is merely a blip.

I’d lose concentration mid sentence, find myself in a personal debate inside my mind over a turban or a wig. Where to buy one? How did they work? Google would have me spiralling into a world of scarves with attached bangs/fringes. I hate this, I hate this. I clicked in despair.

I became a hands free parent, dialling it in via FaceTime. Not wanting to be the one who hung up I’d sit watching cheerios being eaten and listening to clarinet practice. I looked at purchases made at the mall, tried to console sobs over swimming lessons that had ended badly. I desperately wanted to hug them, wipe their tears, meet their teachers, pick them up from school. I’d immediately regretted my tone and timing when I began a call with “I received a late assignment notice from your Social Studies teacher?” Her smile disappeared, and then I heard it in the background, just a whisper, but clear enough to distinguish. My eldest playing the role of me “don’t upset her, we don’t want to upset her”.

Perhaps my lowest point.

I hate that this is our life. I am not the lady in a head scarf. They are not the kids with the Mum with breast cancer. Back in the water, desperately clutching the wreckage. Our lives will not change.

I’m the woman who has to book an extra long appointment at the hairdressers. The woman who thanks to her father has thick dark hair that takes hours to dry without assistance. I recently went for a blow-dry “OMG You have soooooo much hair!” she exclaimed. They tell me that after chemo starts I’ll get to about day thirteen or fourteen and wake up with my hair on the pillow. My GP looked me in the eye. “I know you, you’re a practical person, this is no big deal in the big scheme of things but it will affect you. It will upset you and mentally it’s a big challenge. There’s a lot that’s going to change”.

My lip quivered. “I’m just angry, there are so many good things going on in our life right now and this has just stuffed it all up”.

It was after I’d got the words out, had a cry and been honest with myself that I realised we were going to be okay. It is a blip, but it can’t be ignored. Life is going to change. There are going to be some really tough days but it will end. There is a chemo plan, it will be done by Christmas. Radiation will happen, it’ll all be over in five weeks. I’ve been honest with myself and with others. “I think I can only work 20 hours a week” I nervously offered into the phone “I think I’ve been in a bit of denial”.

There was a laugh at the end of the phone “Oh, do ya think?”

It turns out I wasn’t fooling anyone.

The waters have calmed. I’m getting organised. On my shopping list, just below strawberry creams for Henry, Cherry Ripes for Lizzie, BBQ shapes for Fred and Caramelo Koalas for Annie, is a wig, for me. We will get through this. Face it, work around it, and live through it.


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