From the Doldrums Looking Up

My breast cancer treatment schedule has been slowly rounding itself up, day by day, as I receive my daily dose of radiotherapy. I have envisioned this end now for eight months and I had forecasted an exaggerated elated feeling. But, so far, it hasn’t materialised.

All along, I must have been spurred on by the momentum of the treatment plan. But now that the end is in sight, I am left with an overwhelming sense of, what now?

I am awash anew with thoughts of recurrence, metastasis, cancer aggression, dying. I could be scared witless but I think I’m saddened more; crippled by the thought of leaving my children behind, motherless. Any mention of sickness, death in passing conversation, on television, on the internet, switches on my water works. And I am crying for my children.

Of course I haven’t even finished my treatments, the odds are stacked in my favour…I’m not dead and I’m very much alive and fighting. But it just seems that the life or death stakes have gotten much higher for me and that has brought on this momentary, what is this, depression I suppose.

I never thought about my death before now. I had no reason to. And if you’re a true Christian, as I call myself, this “flirtation” with my death should come as no surprise. I mean there are only two things we’re really sure of in this world, right? Aging and dying. All the other life stuff is chance, luck, misfortune. So why did getting cancer and contemplating my death come as such a shock to me?

Because I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I was going to live until I was ninety nine (and who knows, maybe I will), healthy, strong and vibrant, only to leave this world quietly in my sleep. I thought I was going to be one of the lucky ones. I thought I was going to be invincible until the end; the end of a long, energetic life, achieving great things.

And then you get shot down at age forty. Any remnants of youth, bodily image, energy and vitality stripped clean away by surgery, treatments and pills. You are in the dark as to when and how much of these qualities you can somehow retrieve. And you realise, I mean really, deeply know and comprehend that you are not invincible, how very temporary this life is and just how fragile you actually are.

So indeed, what now?

Live. Everyday.  That’s my choice to the end.

It has taken me my lifetime to date to figure out what living means and I still search for essence. I’ll eat healthy foods but it’s not about the diet for me. I’ll build an exercise plan but it’s not about the workout. I’ll support cancer research but it’s not about the disease. I’ll return to teach but it’s not about the job. I’ll educate my children but it’s not only about them. I’ll spend more date nights with my husband but it’s not all about his love. I’ll connect more with friends and family but they too will pass.

So what’s life all about then? I have no definitive answers, I don’t think I ever will. Something about balance between all of the above strikes some chord of reason with me. There is The God aspect too and Art and Music, His higher expression through people, elements of life that fully draw me towards my core, my inner compass.

In the aftermath of cancer treatments, while my body still rests and heals to return to some degree of former strength and vitality, I’ll take this time to allow my soul to catch up with the medical procedures. My mind kept up in time with it all and thankfully I have all my blog posts to re-read and uplift my spirits. Now, my very melancholic soul, (by nature), must gently lilt its way up from these doldrums, back on to the surface, where life is happening, day by day, one foot in front of the other. These are and will forever be “My Spirit Walks With Breast Cancer”.


  1. Helene

    oh Deirdre, just a powerful message once again. What is the meaning of life??? Why?Why?Why? Looking forward to seeing you very soon xx


  2. Ana

    Oh, Deirdre! Enjoy your life, everyday, every moment!

    “What is life? A frenzy.
    What is life? An illusion,
    A shadow, a fiction,
    And the greatest good is small:
    That all life is dream,
    And dreams are dreams.”
    (Segismundo; “Life is a dream” by Calderón de la Barca).


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