Everything is either too fast or too slow. I feel like the cancer is growing too fast. With each new ache in my body I am worried about it spreading. Is this another symptom? Has it reached my lymph nodes? I am constantly wondering, should I be worried about this or that?
And at the same time, things are too slow. I cannot even book appointments without the pathology report. They need the definitive pathology – confirmation – before they will schedule something. The good news is, they will guarantee that they will fit me in when the pathology comes back. So, logically it makes sense. They cannot recommend anything until they have all the information, but at the same time, I want an appointment time so that I know that I will not be unnecessarily waiting.
In the waiting, there is also the feeling of over-reacting. Am I making more of this than I should? What if it is just a ‘minor’ cancer? One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, so it is really that big of a deal? But, I am young and that is a concern. A new friend pointed out to me this article Why Everyone Seems to have Cancer, which she found to somehow be comforting. Cancer is a ‘normal’ part of aging, it argues. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help me at all. In some ways, it scares me, cause I’m too young. Two-thirds of women with breast cancer are over 50. I’m not.
The too young thing is not new for me. In June last year (hmm, June seems like a bad month for me) I started developing cataracts. By October, my vision could no longer be corrected with glasses. In January I had my first cataract surgery – three days before my 43rd birthday. In March I had my second cataract surgery. My vision hasn’t turned out how we had planned – and I had additional surgeries planned to get there – but that is on hold now. It too is in a holding pattern.
So, I am waiting, and while I wait the cancer grows. But also with the waiting, I have time to consider the options, time to exercise and get stronger, time to think about how I want to spend my time over the next year. There is a freeing that happens – an ability to let go of things that I don’t want to do, an ability to put things on hold until all this gets figured out – and all the unknowns start to become more known.
There is also a new appreciation for sunk costs. The idea is that when you make quality decisions, they should be based on the future, not the past. However, we have a tendency to say things like “but I’ve spend x years on this, I might as well finish it”. The x years spent are a sunk cost. It is in the past. It should not be used as something that influences future decisions. Being told you have cancer helps you see the sunk costs that are affecting your decisions. The focus becomes only on the future (with a high priority on the immediate future), with no regard to the past. So now I shall think on the future, but first, a nice long bike ride … Oh ya, and on Saturday we are going sailing on the USA 76 Challenger from the 2003 America’s Cup.