I wanted to scrawl these words on the toilet door of the shiny new building. To christen it. To bring a scrap of reality. But I’ve never been cool enough to graffiti. Or witty enough. And out of respect for Olivia Newton-John, I didn’t. It was her building. And I was grateful to her for donating it to the hospital.
I also wanted to scrawl them to remember what was torn down. My old cancer ward from 8 years ago – dank stenchy Ward 5. I have a warped kind of attachment to it. But it doesn’t exist anymore. A bit like my cancer. In its place is sparkly Olivia Land.
If you want to have a disease right now, go for cancer. The facilities are outstanding. Olivia Land (that’s not really it’s name by the way) provides free massages, acupuncture, coffee shops, internet kiosks, and swanky lounges overlooking peaceful water-features… all within footsteps of your outpatient waiting room.
This week was my yearly appointment at the hospital. I have no reason to expect bad news, but I never take these appointments for granted. Every year I still say a prayer and breathe a sigh of relief. Hearing that my blood test results are good and that I’m cancer-free is something I will never tire of hearing.
This year the haematologist was a young smiley man. When he asked How are you? I had the greatest urge to cut straight to the truth. And because he was a doctor and a complete stranger, I blurted it out. I told him my greatest fear.
I’m worried I’ll relapse because I’m so stressed. I worry that I won’t see my children grow up.
He was kind. He delivered the reassurances I wanted to hear. But he also pointed out that anyone who has had chemo has a greater chance of developing another cancer.
Aha! The great cause and effect cycle. You patch one thing up and the very thing that helped you has unknown potential to harm you.
Cancer is like dominos. Cause and effect. One thing leading to another. Who knows what I did or how I reacted to something that lead to the leukaemia in the first place. And since then there’s been a series of compounding reactions. More dominos falling. I’ve been trying to hold steady so another one doesn’t fall. Another cause. Another effect.
All my life I’ve been fighting those dominos. Riding their wave. And hoping someone or something will stop them. But all along the answer has been this: I hold the power to stop them. Yes, ME. No-one else is going to stop them. Only me.
We all have the power to stop the dominos. We can stop being reactors, and start being causes. Positive causes in our own lives. We can change our lives with the choices we make. The hard part is stopping the run of those damn dominos.
Eat more vegetables. Eat less crap. Go for a walk. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Respect your children.
Do all these things if you want to see your children grow. But do it also so they know how to hold back those dominos. Do it so they don’t have to know first hand how cancer sucks.
Today I am starting by holding my babies tight. And then I will open a window and let all my anger go. In it’s place I will let the sun in. I will bask and feel warm.
Stopping the dominos begins now. Not in a year’s time. There might not be a year’s time. Now. Today. Right when the next breath of the next second exhales.