I have a new book-club read to conquer. Looking forward to tackling one of the Canada Reads choices – The Inconvenient Indian. I have read some other Thomas King stuff, and I’m so happy my book-club-cohort decided to lean in my direction and choose this one.
When I read, I am an avid ‘stickier’, meaning I read with a pencil and a stack of stickies in hand, and I take notes the entire time I’m reading. They can range from ‘rolled my eyes a bit here’ to ‘WRITE THIS SHIT DOWN’. Whatever the end of the spectrum, these days those stickies are necessary, because I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING. (That’s a topic for another blog.) So. I went from top to bottom in my house, and much to my dismay, no stickies. Notebook it is. I’ve collected a few of those over the past couple of years. Many people thought (knew) it would be a good idea to journal during my treatment for breast cancer. Some of those journals now hold lists at work (which is really quite appropriate because I need lists everywhere these days, because I’m back at work and I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING.) Wait – did I already say that??
Anyway. I grabbed the brown suede journal that’s been sitting unopened on my bed-side table for, well, quite a long time. Apparently since my first Taxol treatment. I often think of the Red Devil as the worst part of chemo, but maybe that’s just because someone gave it a catchy name at some point. Taxol, as it turned out, was way harder on me. I took one treatment, and stopped writing. Maybe I didn’t want to go through the daily ritual of writing down the pain I was in, or the pain that had kept me up in the night. Maybe I just went into survival mode for the second half of chemo, or maybe I just got really good at it and stopped needing to document it. It’s too bad though. Because really, I REMEMBER VERY LITTLE.
So this prompted a little trip down memory lane, and some introspection about how far I’ve come from that particular day, and that particular month, and many of the months that followed. Needless to say, I’m not reading tonight. A few weeks ago I went on a quick weekend road-trip with my bestie, and for about a zillion reasons I felt normal. It marked the first time that I went out and met new people, and didn’t introduce myself as cancer girl. I was just Tanya for a weekend, and it was awesome. Also, I got to meet the chef of my favourite Winnipeg restaurant.
I’ve just started my third week back at work full-time, which is most of the reason I haven’t sat down to write as of late. These are some full days, folks. (Did I mention I’m now teaching my son?) There was fear leading up to my return, which seemed to sneak up on me and make me feel like I was cramming at 6am for an 8am exam that I had forgotten about. I didn’t feel ready, I wanted more time, I wanted to feel fixed before going back, the insurance plan wasn’t cooperating, I was worried about teaching my son and his buddies, and it was all very very noisy in my head. Long story short, I decided to stop fighting on the Friday before the Monday I was scheduled to return. I didn’t want to return, get back to my class and then leave them again. I didn’t want to mess with the (very patient and lovely) supply teacher who had taken my place for six months. I, frankly, needed to create some space in my head and make a clean decision. Return to work, full time. And do the best I can at it. And I can honestly say I have done that. This is a big week. Almost exactly two years ago I went for a biopsy, during which the nurses were wonderfully reassuring, telling me that most of these lumps were nothing to worry about. Almost exactly five days after that, I was diagnosed with cancer and my life flipped on a dime. That was quite a March Break. I’m really hoping this one will be different. Lots of sleep. Lots of bed head. It’s pretty fabulous.
This is a long trip, I am finding out. I’m thankful to still be on the voyage.