Life is not date stamped like a pricing gun. It just happens.
Life is made of memorable days, days that stop you in your tracks and days that will push you over a cliff without a safety harness.
Cancer did that to me, that day back in March 2020.
Now, I am not asking you to forget, unless you want to, because only you know the effect and meaning they have to you.
You remember, it’s fixed, slotted in your brain, embedded, locked in, not like footprints in the sand that can be washed away but stamped, marked, tattooed. Over time it may fade but it’s always there - so I am told by those that know.
Numbers, places, time and months all create a moment and dates remind us how far we’ve come, what we have achieved, gained and lost. We all will have a back catalogue of dates stamped. Stamped like a labelling pricing gun in our minds. Life is full of dates, best before and use by.
I wanted to focus on shifting and layering new moments. I was and still am creating a trifle with each layer being different. Starting a different life of letting go of so much.
Letting go of who I was, who I was as a woman, the isolation cancer can bring and the disconnection I felt and still feel. Letting go of layers is part of the process I think.
I guess, why I am writing this is to say it’s not date stamped when you will feel ok, the chances are you will never be the same and you will feel at some point maybe isolated and disconnected however you will become incredibly grateful for life not matter how it changes and the simple things will be so precious and that is beautiful gift. For that I do thank cancer.
So three years on I have kept layering no matter how small and that goes towards healing and rebuilding a different life. For the isolation I felt and disconnection I couldn’t say it was any one thing, more of a combination of being an end of life carer and the huge grief that brought to me and my life , the trauma of cancer, and the many challenges of a medical menopause plus, throw in dementia taking hold of my Dad, and my age. You’ve got yourself a good recipe for change. Only now I need to find more ingredients.
After all, I experienced this all within five years and it felt like layers of loss in a short space of time, looking back however it is life and it happens when it does. It’s not date stamped.
Rebuilding became about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do anymore. I went back to work but not in the same way, I looked after and supported my parents but always made sure I did something for me and squeezed in a nice filling in a packed in sandwich day.
Like many during covid I left my gym and trained at home but now I’ve re connected with a new gym. Personally I don’t feel it is always encouraged with what you still can do but the focus was on don’t lift, wear gardening gloves, keep your nails short so I stopped lifting weights. That’s changed I’m pleased to say but I do keep my nails short and wear gardening gloves.
Friendships have changed and for me, close relationships are not the same but others are stronger but it’s about moving forward in a different direction, joining new things which enables you to meet different people.
For me I still needed to feel like an attractive women but I felt different. After all most days I was in a haze of fog with no clear clarity and surviving on an average of three hours sleep with 15 flushes a day, everyday and looking if I was about to drop a 6lb baby at any given moment at the supermarket checkout because I was so bloated. Thank goodness for yoga, acupuncture and cooling sprays.
I told myself after cancer I wanted to bring in more fun and laughter in my life like before. Only it wasn’t going to be like before because so much had changed. That took a while to see. The world at changed during 2020 and I think that changed many people to this day. For me it was about getting my treatment done if I’m honest. I felt so loved and looked after myself throughout treatment. I knew I would be isolating for a year because I was told that pretty early on so I just cracked on.
Now, however, I felt I’d walked through layers of **** in five years with grief then cancer which felt like loss after loss when I’ve stepped back. For me cancer came at a time when I could really look after myself and the lockdown gave me all the time to do this.
So afterwards I knew I needed to build again so I joined dating sites because I felt I still wanted to be seen as an attractive woman. You may get me you may not. I had no success but I tried it and who knows what can happen.
I’ve had the best times with my Dad before his dementia really took a hold of him. We would play table tennis for dementia which we both loved despite him telling me he had never played, if only he could remember. Those times provided laughter to me and became so special and I saw myself as very lucky. I have continued with being creative and plan on taking up a new hobbies in the future.
After cancer it feels like a second shot at life, part two of the series. When I look back I had goals and knew where I was heading then cancer arrived and it all stopped so I needed to look after me first.
Being selfish and saying what you can do and what you can’t do has been very uplifting.
I recently wrote on my social media platform about something so special about the feeling of being by the sea and what it gives you. For so long after cancer I realised I was concerned about doing things that I had done before, could I? should I? You will understand or maybe you won’t, but I was still me just a different me I guess but the waves of life do that do you.
I needed to trust my feet to walk through the difficult waters and know to float along was also perfect from time to time.
I am honestly so grateful to be here and would I change much about life - not really.
Of course if I could click my fingers and bring back loved ones as any one who’s experienced grief knows I would.
I am certainly not asking for sympathy far from it but happy days will happen and have happened it’s different and with different people.
This book of life is turning new pages every day and you don’t get the chance to re read it - only turn another page and who knows what that will bring , different characters? new places to see? hobbies to discover? dancing to be done, happiness, fun, laughter and love sprinkled with moments I absolutely will never forget and that is a date I want to remember.
Penny has written some amazing blogs for us before. You can see her previous blog here.