I told you I would think of ways my cancer affected me. Uncertainty was what I had the most trouble dealing with after my diagnosis.
My future was uncertain: whether I would be able to raise my kids was uncertain, whether I’d grow old with my husband was uncertain, whether I’d be able to hold my job, or any job was uncertain. Whether I could go on vacation next year, ever go back to school for my Master’s degree.
The definition of uncertainty in the Merriam-Webster dictionary includes: “an almost complete lack of conviction or knowledge about an outcome or result”. The outcome or result being my life.
Not just would I die soon, but whether I could we go on living certain of anything. Could I plan a future? When I thought about it, most of our lives are based on future plans. We plan where we want to work someday, where we want to go with our children, watching our children grow up, attending our sister’s, daughter’s, or friends upcoming wedding. The family reunion next summer. Where we would love to go on vacation. What we want to do with our off and personal days. How we want to celebrate family member’s birthday or our own anniversary.
I was so upset at people who told me I was lucky, because they were sure I lived one day at a time. I did for a long time live one day at a time because my future was so uncertain, No, it was not a good way to live, not contemplating a tomorrow. It is a very difficult way to live.
And then when I finished treatment, the surgeries and long months of chemo, people cheered for me. I was done, I’d beat it, I was a survivor and could get back to my normal life! Everyone assumed I would “get back to normal”, but normal was gone.
I wanted to stay on chemo, it was the only tool I had to fight the disease and I tolerated it pretty well. After chemo, the uncertainty really began. Would my cancer come back? When? I had scans every 3 and then 6 months, all to see if it had come back yet. Even annual scans were hard. It was life in limbo, unsure still if I had a future or not. After I finished chemo I could not say the words “next year”.
I read a book that so helped me, because someone actually understood how I felt. It was written by two cancer survivors. The book is “Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer” by two cancer survivors, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd and Lisa K. Hunter. They knew exactly how I felt. I recommend reading it, you won’t feel so alone. I know I felt very alone after cancer treatment ended.
I now can plan for next year, I can plan future events. But I think after cancer, though I plan a future, I am aware that we can never be really certain of a future.
There is a church in Chicago that intrigues me, but I’ve never been, it’s an hour and a half drive. The LaSalle Street Church. My favorite Christian author, Philip Yancy, wrote of the church and said it was in Chicago halfway between two neighborhoods, one of the richest and one of the poorest. It was his favorite church. He lives in Colorado I believe, but still attends occasionally. The homeless poor could sleep on pews in the sanctuary. The wealthy could contribute to the poor. Christianity really took place there.
I don’t actually attend a church (I’m kind of in church when I’m in the woods and see God everywhere), but I have faith and love to listen to good online sermons. The above church had a sermon this week I want to listen to about “The Idol of Certainty”. Certainty and and the lack of certainty impacted me so greatly for so many years. Can you idolize certainty? Did I?
Hmmm…everything is online so I will give a listen to it.