The worst thing about cancer is the uncertainty. You fight with a silent enemy and you have no way of knowing if you are winning or losing.
Every day after showering, I feel the tumor that haunts my right breast and although months have gone by, it is still there. It has changed: smaller perhaps, in another position perhaps; but I have no objective way of knowing if we are beating this silent enemy. The oncologist has told me that no tests are done until before surgery, so I will continue unknowingly for two more months.
If all goes well, I will finish the first stage of my treatment in 25 days. September 30. I can’t believe it. When I started, many times I thought I wouldn’t last, that six months was too long, but here we are. Today it is four months ago since I started the treatment. Next Wednesday, I will receive my ultimate cycle. Then the surgery. The doctor says I will have surgery about six weeks after my last chemo.
The list of what I have lost in these four months is long. Mind you, all the casualties in this war have been physical and hopefully temporary. My eyelashes, my eyebrows, my hair. Other parts of my body have been spared, but they are wounded: my nails, my skin, my stomach, my mouth, my eyes. I know that my body will recover.
What I have lost physically, I am gaining emotionally. I don’t know if I am winning or losing the war against cancer, but I know that my inner self has become stronger.
I have learned many things in these months and I have unlearned twice as much. I have unlearned that as adults it is not okay to cry, I have learned that we all have our own emotional struggles and that I cannot measure the suffering of others by the measure of my own suffering. Everyone carries their own cross and I cannot judge whether that cross is smaller or bigger than mine because for each person, that cross is always a difficult weight to carry.
I have unlearned to be constantly thinking about the future, to be chasing something, the next thing. I have learned to live in the now, which is the only thing I have with certainty. Also, I have realized that it is easier to live in the moment, than to torture myself thinking about all the bad things that can happen. Adding stress to my life because of the things I need to do tomorrow or letting the beauty of the present pass me by because I am trying to guess what the future holds.
I have learned to listen better to others and to ask my mind to shut up when other people try to tell me something. I am also learning to listen to my body, to understand what it needs and my reactions to things that happen.
I am learning to see with different eyes, to get rid of my blindness of understanding the world only on my own terms. I am unlearning what is right and what is wrong, because now I am beginning to realize how relative everything is.
Samirah and I have learned to communicate better or, perhaps, I have simply learned to listen better.
I feel like overall, I’m reconnecting with myself and the world.
So, I don’t know if I’m going to beat cancer, what I do know is that this stage of my life is going to make me a stronger and better person. Maybe that is the meaning of all that I am going through.