Many of my friends are going through it. You know, it. The anomie that occurs for stay-at-home parents when their children become more independent and they are left at home wondering where that part of themselves, independent of spouses and children, went. “What do I do next?” they ask themselves. “Where do I go from here?” Often in limbo, not having enough time to get a full-time job or needing the flexibility for school vacations and afterschool hours, stay-at-home parents struggle to re-enter society with their (often) outdated skills, wardrobes, and knowledge base (the words to Wiggles songs do not count as expert knowledge).
I’m being spared this aimlessness because of my cancer diagnosis three years ago. My youngest child is 4, he’ll start kindergarten next fall. He has some physical issues, abnormalities in his hands and neck which mean I’ll need to spend more time dealing with the school system about his special needs. He’ll need physical and occupational therapies for the foreseeable future, but he’ll be in regular school from 8:30 to 3:00 every day.
Now that I am in remission my weeks are still full with doctors, managing side effects, and helping others going through the diagnosis and treatment process. But more often than not I’m at the computer writing. I’ve carved out something that gives my life meaning apart from my family. And while my cancer history has involved all those who know and love me, I still think of it as mine. My cancer. Why? Because as much as someone with cancer can try to explain what it is, what it feels like– what the cancer experience is— I am not sure we ever can fully succeed. Like trying to explain the love you have for a child to someone about to have their own child, you just don’t get it until it happens to you.
And so, the cancer is mine. And that possession is providing my step to the next phase of my life. I don’t wonder what I’m going to do with my time… I just wonder if I will have enough time to write all I want to write– if I can express for some who cannot express for themselves what this cancer experience can be.