This morning: Lament and thanks

Lament

This morning I woke up with a profound sense of grief and loss.

This morning I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer life. I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer body. I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-cancer hair.

This morning I let myself grieve the loss of my pre-coronavirus Covid-19 life. I let myself grieve the loss of being able to spend time with my family and friends.

This morning I let myself grieve all the losses.

This morning I let myself lament.

This morning I reached out to a friend for prayer. She responded with a written prayer. I read it and I prayed. Almost imperceptibly my focus shifted.

This morning I remembered the times I woke up with tears on my pillow as I waited for that first chemotherapy. That fear of the unknown. That visceral fear.

This morning I remembered the words that comforted me then:

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.

(Psalm 56, The Message)

This morning I pondered the meaning of these words. I am not a theologian but I believe God cares intimately for me and us and our suffering world. I believe God cares and remembers our sorrow as if he kept each tear in a bottle.

This morning I remembered that

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

(Revelation 21, NIV)

This morning I know I am loved.

This morning I know that ultimately all will be well.

Thanks

This morning I am feeling thankful for lament. I am feeling thankful I am able to able to connect with my grief and my loss.

This morning I am feeling thankful for my post-cancer life, my post-cancer body, my post-cancer hair.

This morning I am feeling thankful for my life.

This morning I am feeling thankful for life.

This morning I am feeling thankful to God, for his care and his love.

This morning I give thanks to God. Like a child with a loving parent I am held in his loving arms.

This morning.

Cancerversaries

Cancerversaries also known as cancer anniversaries are year round for me. I found the lump just before Christmas and had my last hospital treatment just over 18 months later.

Yesterday evening I realised I am feeling unsettled as I approach the cancerversary of feeling the lump (again).

The lump had definitely changed in the weeks since I’d first felt it on Christmas Eve. In my husband’s words it felt gnarly. I went to see my practice nurse. I remember everything that happened in that appointment. Everything. When the nurse felt it she couldn’t hide her facial expressions or her body language. She looked shocked and she starting shaking. I was calm, drawing on all my experience and training, reflecting in action to give her time to gather herself. I needed her to be able to think through what she needed to do and say the words that I knew were coming: ‘I need to refer you to the breast clinic. It will be an urgent referral. You should be seen within a week or two.’

Thankfully I don’t usually feel like this as cancerversaries approach. This is the first year since it all started that I have felt this way about a cancerversary. Usually they come and go and if I remember them I feel a sense of gratitude that I’m still here and have reached another year since…

I don’t know what’s different this year, why I’m feeling angsty. Maybe it’s because I’ve been waiting to hear about a routine appointment with my oncologist. Maybe it’s because I’m going to have my mammogram soon. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been able to get out as much as usual during the last week which has also impacted on my diet and my rest/sleep.

When we acknowledge and recognise our feelings it enables us to take some action and control. So I have phoned and left a message enquiring about the appointment. I have written this blog which has helped me think about my feelings, identify what’s changed and upset my sense of well-being and work through what I need to do.

I need to start walking again even if I can only manage five or ten minutes. I love being outside and walking, it is a salve for body, mind and spirit. I need to watch my diet. I need to develop a consistent bedtime routine. I need all these things, together with the encouragement, friendship and support of others as I face my cancerversaries.