This is going to sound very strange. In fact, it seems bizarre to me as I’m writing it. But there are parts of chemotherapy that I miss.
So this deserves some clarification: chemo was absolutely miserable and by far the worst part of cancer treatment. When I entered the infusion room, I knew that I’d be out of commission for the next week. I’d feel nauseated with a burning throughout my GI tract and be laid out as if I’d been hit by a locomotive. I could.not.wait for chemo to end.
What changed my opinion? You may think this sounds crazy, but hear me out. The sad fact was, chemo was the only guaranteed way that I could get some rest.
I knew I wasn’t going to handle work issues, clean the apartment, pick up the kids or do anything else that I’m usually expected to do. It was a forced convalescence. One that I desperately needed.
When I was going through cancer treatment, I didn’t worry about the little things. And truly, when you have cancer, everything else seems inconsequential. When you’re wondering whether you’ll live to see your kids graduate from high school, nothing matters as much as survival.
It wasn’t until I finished all my treatments and my hair had grown back that the “little things” started to creep back and set up residence again. Memories of the misery of chemo lose their clarity, the fear of death passes. The overwhelm from a diagnosis is replaced by the more familiar overwhelm of daily stressors, now made worse by the additional complication of chemo brain. No, they’re not life-threatening, but they are all-absorbing.
So is it surprising that I wish I could close my eyes and be left alone for a week? Even more so, isn’t it sad that it took cancer for me to be allowed to rest and let others take care of things for a while?
That, I believe, was a warning that my life needed to change and is now the major driving force in my meditation practice.
Consider: Because my cancer treatment lasted over a year, it became the “familiar”. The “unknown” is what follows, and that includes the threat of recurrence. That’s when things really get scary. Learning to deal with that will literally take the rest of my life.