Photo: taken sometime during the latter half of my chemo treatments. At this time I weighed just over 70 lbs and had lost all my hair (including eyebrows and eyelashes). I’m wearing my wig in this pic. I was using crutches to get around much of the time, still unable to use a prosthetic limb comfortably following my amputation surgery a few months earlier.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d never had cancer. It’s a big question, one that looms every morning as I get out of bed and put on my prosthetic leg.
I wonder how having had the cancer has held me back in so many ways. I deal daily with pain and sores. I have chronic issues related to the toxicity of the chemo. I limp. I am often tired and somewhat prone to depression. Every time I have an ache somewhere I wonder if it is the cancer again. Currently I am avoiding doctors and I haven’t had a physical exam in three years.
I just want to be me and not a cancer patient.
But I also wonder if I hadn’t had cancer, would I be a totally different person? Would I still be a gardener, a locavore, a mother, a lover of John? A Mormon? A Quaker? A teacher and writer of academic papers?
I suspect that I would be a wearer of high heels and a swimmer in oceans. And a cartwheeler in meadows of green grass. That I would be a hiker of the Narrows and walker of the Pilgrim’s Path.
But what if not?
And what if my cancer came back tomorrow? Or my kitties run away? Or I run away? Or what if my latest insurance claims are denied and my leg breaks and I lose my job and the Mormons excommunicate me and I make John miserable and I am unkind to my children and I am just so so so tired that I never get out of bed again?