In the last month, we sold our house that we had lived in for the past almost 10 years and moved into a house that we (and by we I mean trained professionals, of course) had been building for the past 6 months. The new house is wonderful. It is in a great location, the layout and colors are amazing (because we have exquisite taste, of course), it has great sunlight and feels cozy but at the same time spacious, and has a nice big yard for the kids. But as much as I love the new house, and am so happy that we found it when we did and were able to be so involved in the building (and by building I mean selecting colors and fixtures, etc.), it is definitely a time of transition. And transition can be hard, even when the transition is to something you hoped for and worked for, and even counted the days toward.
Maybe I thought that moving would help me put last year behind me. Maybe I thought that somehow I could leave the somewhat constant fear of recurrence behind. Maybe I thought that I would be so completely ensconced in shopping for furniture, rugs, towels, bedding, and shoes (yes, shoes, my closet is bigger in the new house, of course) for the new house that I wouldn’t even remember that cancer was ever a part of my life. But, and I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one, moving hasn’t done anything to help put cancer behind me. If anything, it’s brought my anxiety back to the forefront.
I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a month, because I’ve had to spend so much time at both the old house and the new house accommodating electricians, plumbers, painters, realtors. While I don’t love going to the gym, I do think that working out helps me to keep my anxiety in check. I also haven’t been able to see the therapist I started seeing after my diagnosis in over a month, for the same reasons. So these days I’m feeling round, and doughy, and more than a little bit nutty (mmm, anyone else now thinking about a really nice loaf of bread?) and a little bit unmoored. The funny thing (and by funny I mean not funny at all) is that I thought, in my misguided little mind, that having a double mastectomy would alleviate some of this anxiety. I distinctly remember saying that one of the reasons that I wasn’t having a lumpectomy was because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, waiting for cancer to catch me again. And yet, here I am, doing just that, at least for now. There are certainly days that are better than others. Days when I can just be happy in the moment and enjoy whatever it is that I’m doing, without wondering whether, while I’m enjoying myself, cancer cells are setting up shop somewhere in my body.
I do think that moving into this great house and being so happy about it, has maybe made me more anxious, because everyone knows (well some of us nuttier ones do) that it’s only when you allow yourself to relax, get comfortable, and enjoy life that the rug gets pulled out from under you. It’s only when you think that cancer might be behind you that it comes back and yells, “Surprise!” Even as I type that I know how crazy it sounds. It’s like thinking that something I do could affect the outcome of a Red Sox/Bruins/Patriots/Celtics game.
Of course plenty of unhappy people get sick. Plenty of people who have never felt comfortable a day in their lives get sick. The truth is, whether cancer comes back or not is completely out of my control. I could eat all the right foods and avoid all the wrong. I could exercise every day and make my body strong. I could do all the things that the doctors tell me to do, and all the things Dr. Bing and all her internet friends suggest. I could (and do) have the odds stacked squarely in my favor that a recurrence won’t occur. But that mother effin’ (sorry mom) cancer could still come back. I’ve been on the wrong side of the statistics once, who’s to say that I won’t be again?
In the past year, I have started jumping to the end of books to see how they end, or finding spoilers online for movies that I’m going to watch, because I just can’t take the not knowing. But that’s the thing with life. We don’t get spoiler alerts. People on twitter can’t live tweet my story before I live it.
Like many Saturday Night Live skits before me, I just can’t figure out how to end this post, which is perhaps as it should be. Sometimes the ending just isn’t clear. Sometimes we just have to wait and see, and do our best to enjoy what we have, for as long as we have it.