I am awake in the night with a migraine and an upset stomach. I keep thinking about the person I knew who died from secondary breast cancer recently and about her husband and her children. She was diagnosed with primary breast cancer when she was the age I am now, two years later she was diagnosed with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer and now two years later she has gone. I find it heartbreaking. When I was diagnosed she supported me, we chatted about our families, they were our concern and now she is not here for hers.
Later on I decide I need to walk off the sadness I am feeling. I enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, the warmth of the sun on my skin, I see families out enjoying the day. I feel alive, happy and thankful.
I meet up with mum, my sister-in-law and 5 and 8 year old nieces at a café. I sit down and mum’s phone rings. She answers. It is my cousin. Gulp.
When the girls go and play mum tells us it is not good news, my auntie has been admitted to hospital as she has been struggling to breathe. She was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer (de novo) about seven years ago. She is in the ward I spent time on during chemotherapy. ‘They will take good care of her’ I say and I remember my times in that ward, the women I met there, their situations, their families, their children. I think about my cousins and their children. My auntie’s grandchildren. I find it heartbreaking.
The girls are excited when I ask them if they would like me to play with them. We look at the flowers and compare their beautiful colours, we choose our favourites. I like the purple ones. We look at plants and trees, at their leaves, the patterns and textures. We notice insects, birds and a squirrel. We dance and we run. I have fun and I forget about the pain and the sorrow. It is good to be here to do this.
Later, we’ve said goodbye and I am driving home. I think about my bittersweet day and I realise I am crying. I let the tears flow.