A little cloudMonday, February 07, 2011
There is a little cloud that follows me around. Some days it's a fluffy white wisp of a thing that floats high in the sky; I can almost forget it's there. Some days it is oppressive and black and heavy and terrifying.
My mum, she of the recipe book, is ill. She has cancer. And not of the "oh they caught it early, she's a fighter, she'll be fine" variety. That's what we said eleven years ago, and for nine years, it was true. She was a Breast Cancer Survivor.
But nearly two years ago she was working in a chalet in the French Alps with my dad (oh, did I mention my parents are awesome?) and had a sore hip, for what turned out to be completely unrelated reasons. Her physio friend, for whom I am thankful every day, suggested an x-ray "just in case". Something funny showed up that the French doctor n'aimait pas. Scrambled flights back and forth and several scans later, and she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in her bones. BOOM.
Secondary breast cancer is a funny beast. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed, sometimes for years. We don't talk about "battling cancer", we talk about "living with cancer". It's a cycle of drugs and scans and results and and more drugs and more scans and more results that goes on and on until they run out of drugs that work. Waiting for scan results is the worst. It even has a name: the dreaded Scanxiety.
Sometimes the scan results are bad, triggering a flurry of action. Tumours in the liver, chemo again, another trip to the wig shop. Sometimes they're good. The chemo is working, the tumours are shrinking. Then it's back to the waiting, and hoping. The cloud floats higher and higher until it's just a hovering presence at the edge of your vision. But it still casts a shadow, a subtle change in the light.
In some ways the future is more certain now. There is no cure. That is our reality. But it's the when, the how long, the horrible questions to which there are no answers. Ok, nobody knows when their time will come. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow, bla bla bla. But most of the time, you don't think about your own mortality. You don't walk around thinking, I wonder if I'll die this year, or maybe next year. I wonder if I'll see my son get married, or hold my grandchildren, or see Paris again.
But all we can do is keep positive. Such a cliché, but there's a reason for that. Think of life in manageable chunks, don't think about the long-term. Try not to let the weight of that cloud pull your life in a different direction - hold firm to your path. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but hey. All you can do is try.
Last year, there was one day that broke through the clouds like a bright shaft of sunlight. We had a beautiful day on the beach with all of our family and friends. Drink was taken, dancing was sweaty and abandoned, and everywhere you looked were massive cheesy grins. Oh, and the Hubster and I got hitched, which was nice.
Your wedding is just one day. I get that. And it's not, contrary to what the WIC tells us, the Happiest Day Of Your Life (at least I hope not, I wasn't planning on peaking at 26!). But when the storm is raging, and the sky is black, I hold that day in my hand and my heart. And it helps.
So if I ever seem a little sad or sorry for myself, or overly-sentimental when I talk about the wedding, or my family, well. I hope you'll forgive me. I just didn't want to go any further with this blogging thing without explaining, because that little cloud will always be hanging around, casting its shadow over my thoughts and words.
But I'm my mother's daughter, so there will no doubt be plenty of irreverent nonsense on here too, and I'll try to keep the boring cancer chat to a minimum. I mean, if talking about the wedding ever gets tiring (I know, it's almost unimaginable, but you never know), then there's always shoes. And Rob Lowe. And pizza. All those things that make life worth living.
Images: 1. Michael Casker's Pet Cloud series 2. Cloud mobile from leptitpapillon on etsy 3. Print from evajuliet's beautiful etsy shop 4. Picture of happiness by Lillian and Leonard. See how the light shines through the clouds?