A Resolution-Free New Year

Radiation, day 1. One radiation treatment down, 29 more to go, but who’s counting? I am, and will be for the next 6 weeks. As I said to my husband after I had my “dry run” on Monday, “it’s a thing… it’s not nothing.” But it also isn’t painful and hopefully the side effects will be manageable. Plus there’s a nice little community of other patients in the waiting area for treatment who are there every day at the say time, and today two of them commented on how I was rocking the bald look, so there’s that.

So far in cancer treatment, I have spent my birthday, and a few holidays either in surgery, in treatment, or dealing with the aftermath thereof, so it seems fitting to spend the first week of the new year this way. And I’d much rather be getting treatment than not at this point, since it means I’m that much closer to the end of this.

The new year usually brings with it thoughts of the coming year, and my goals and wishes for the year. This year, that feels relatively impossible. When I think ahead to post-treatment, I simply can’t wrap my mind around it since there are so many unknowns — will my treatment be successful? when will I know if it was? what will my energy level be after radiation? how will I react to the long-term medication and will that compromise my stamina or abilities? what will I feel like doing with my time once it’s all mine again? So many questions and so few answers that I’m better off not asking them until I get closer to the time when answers will be possible.

In the Sunday New York Times this week, there was an article, How Cancer Changes Hope, by Kate Bowler, a cancer survivor. While her circumstances are far more dire than mine (stage 4 cancer), she summed up what I’ve been feeling about the new year perfectly. She said, “time did not point toward the future anymore. It was looped: Start treatment, manage side effects, recover, start treatment. I lived in the present tense.”

And so for this new year, I will try to live in the present tense — to enjoy a nice cappuccino with my husband after my first treatment, to write my thoughts in this blog, to go for a walk, to eat healthy food, to surround myself with supportive people. No resolutions. Just a commitment to get through this next phase of treatment as well as I can, prioritizing my health and well-being. I’ll worry about the future some other time.

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