For me, the worst thing about this whole cancer secondaries has been the feeling that doors are closing for me; the feeling that life is shutting down.
I have always loved new beginnings, new adventures. I’ve always loved having a sense of opportunity – of lots of opportunities. I’ve always assumed that there will be something new – at the end of this phase of life I’ll try something else. Even with jobs I’ve loved, my happiest day has been the day I put in my letter of resignation.
This cancer thing, though, is limiting. It puts a question mark over everything. Should we book this holiday? What if…? Could I move jobs? What about moving house? Could I even get a mortgage? How long should I stay in this job for? This job that’s getting harder and more stressful all the time?
In the beginning, I turned from being someone who said “Yes” to being someone who said “No”. I stepped back from taking on more responsibilities at work. I accepted that this was where I was. I even censored my own bucket list, for goodness’ sake – scared of wanting things I couldn’t have.
But the first thing my husband did – after he’d scooped himself up off the floor, and then helped me scoop myself up off the floor – was book a trip to Finland, to see the northern lights. And he has kept on believing in me as someone who can say “Yes”.
I still feel that my path is narrower than it was before my diagnosis. I live my life in the chunks between oncology reviews. I think about the future, but with a little set of brackets in my head (“what if…?”). But I try to say “Yes”.
And if there is a trick to all this, that’s it. Saying “Yes”. “Yes” is hope, and fun, and joy, and love, and all the things that make up this glorious, wonderful, amazing life. It’s also pain, and fear, and worry, but they are part of life, too. “No” takes you somewhere dark and cold and small. Even when there aren’t many things to say “Yes” to, I think it’s still better to reach out to them than to back away.