One thing about getting older that baffles me is how fast time goes. People tell me this all the time, especially with a young child. “Enjoy it. He’ll be a teenager before you know it.” “It all happens so fast, enjoy every moment.” And it’s true. Suddenly I have a little boy going into Kindergarten when, just yesterday, he was speaking his first words. The same can be said for cancer.
On August 1, it will be three years since my breast cancer diagnosis. Three years!!!! It seems like it was yesterday and thirteen years ago at the same time. Does that make sense?
I remember that the whole year that I was dealing with cancer was the slowest year of my life. Other people would tell me how time flew by. Oh, no! Time dragged on much in the same way I imagine time slowing when one is imprisoned. I was imprisoned by my illness and time would not let me forget it. But as life started getting back to…well, not normal, but just getting back…time began to speed up again.
And here I am. Three years later.
A lot has changed. Nothing has changed. I still think about cancer every day but I don’t cry every day anymore. Breast cancer is still the thing that defines me, third only to being a mother and artist. It’s a huge part of my identity now, for better or for worse.
I still fear recurrence. The fear is not paralyzing like it used to be but every ache, pain, digestive issue, gas pain, skin blemish, nose bleed…I think it’s back. That hasn’t changed.
I’ve also found that even though I still think about cancer on a regular basis, I’ve had to try to distance myself a bit. I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t written much here lately. And I’ve been reading fewer blogs (sorry to all of those I read regularly and love and respect so much) as well. I’ve found that dealing with cancer in my mind on a daily basis as well as reading and researching constantly was stunting my mental healing. I’ve had to take a step back, at least for now.
I’m also aware that I’m only two years away from that magical “5 year” mark, feeling that these next two years are crucial. Being so high risk, I feel like the next two years are a wait and see.
But I’m trying to take control. I’m exercising 4-5 days a week and I’m getting stronger (although the weight is very slow to come off). I’m also trying to eat better. Not perfectly but better. I’m trying to do things I enjoy, like take a Spanish class and go to museums and the theatre more. Every day is still hard, but I’m trying.
I remember the day I was diagnosed. I longed for it to be a year later, two, three… I needed time to pass. And it has. Time is passing so quickly.