Last night, I dreamed I was sick again.
I had fought so hard to be alive that it woke me from my deep sleep with terror and sadness.
I was diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago, and after having radical surgery and two types of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, I am one of the lucky ones.
I would like to say I am strong, I fought, and I won. That I am a warrior. That I chose life.
I did, and I am, but I know that this disease, which has claimed dear friends and is impacting friends right now, has a mind of its own. I am sure these friends wanted to live as much as I did.
We wanted life to choose us—we should have been living, not scared of dying. We were way too young to be dealing with this kind of trauma.
And trauma it is, for cancer cuts deep—so deep you cant begin to see how you will hide it deep within your soul. But you do.
People don’t know what to say. It’s hard to know what to say to them.
I would tell them all the scientific facts to avoid telling them how scared I was, how on the verge of losing it I was, every second of every day. How the terror that lurks behind every word I said was nearly killing me.
I would smile and say I was doing great when well-meaning people looked awkward asking how I was doing. Politeness sucks.
I would be positive, even when getting that right lilt in my voice was so hard that it felt like my heart was going to fall out and spill all the sadness it was carrying on everyone I saw.
So when I had this dream where I was told my cancer was back, and there was nothing to be done, and having to accept it, and feeling so heavy, and crying so hard, I woke up feeling less than grounded.
But then I remembered that I did make it.
I know the trauma will probably always be with me, and I accept it. It woke me up, and I’m so thankful to be here.
Thankful when the sun is shining in my eyes, to feel the warmth of it on my face.
To lie in the grass in a big paddock surrounded by cows, with the smell of summer, listening to lazy flies and crickets and feeling the grass itching my back.
To gaze at the moon, captivated by it.
To wish on a shooting star, wondering, “Is anybody out there?”
To feel a song burst out of my heart.
To pet my gorgeous, ridiculously fat, snoring dog.
To hear and smell the rain.
To taste a wonderful meal that is exploding with love.
To laugh loudly and often at the craziest things and not care, knowing I pass that infectiousness on to others.
To feel the skin, and to smell the scent, of another human being while snuggling into their warmth.
To wear the brightest possible colors all at once.
To feel passion, and to be taken away by it.
To feel heartache and loss, to fall to my knees in pain.
This is life. All these things are a blessing for which I am thankful.
We all have something we are dealing with, or living through. To all of you facing this struggle: be strong, believe in yourself.
In the terror you are facing, love and be held. Remember that whatever your path, you can make it.
And to those who love those who are hurting: in the terror they are facing, love them, hold them, and tell them they can do it.
Sometimes you don’t need to say anything. So often the best thing is just a knowing smile, a touch, understanding the fear, and recognizing how much we all want to feel supported.
And most of all, send light and love.