I was going to go.
I was going to get in my rented Mazda 2 and drive for a minimum of five hours until I crossed the river into Portland. I was going to turn the music up and sing along and do everything I could to disappear for a night. When I put my mind to something, there is no stopping me.
Or, I guess I should say, very little stopping me.
“I don’t want you to go alone,” he said. It was 5am and his voice was gravelly. “What if you get into an accident down there, or run into some creep?”
All I wanted was the chance to get away. Considering everything that’s been going on, this trip was supposed to be my fun moment before I had to come back to the reality of the situation.
The reality is one where I was one of an estimated 1450 women in Canada this year to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
I wanted to do something amazing; I wanted to see Frank Turner play one more time before ending this tour and leaving North America. I wanted to drive away from my problems and escape it all for one night.
The last thing I wanted was a series of days to myself, alone with my thoughts, and yet, that is exactly where I am. I wanted meaning in it all. Why was my plan not working? Why was I being held hostage here? I could feel the floodgates opening and I tried hard to fight it. It was futile, and there came a point where I knew it.
For the first time since it began, I let myself feel. I let myself cope with the fear and the loss and the doubt and all of the things that I had been trying to keep at bay. I let my emotions flood over me and just felt it. I didn’t pretend to be strong. I didn’t remind myself that cervical cancer is an easy one to beat. I didn’t tell myself I have nothing to be afraid of. I just let it come.
There are some things over which you have no control. This circumstance is one of them.
I am afraid. I am afraid because, every step of the way things have taken turns for the worst. Every time they tell me the worst case scenario so far, I wind up living it. I’m afraid because I am young and cancer was the last thing on my mind. I am afraid because there is pain in my future.
And I found that I was still searching for meaning. Why was the universe holding me back from this road trip? Why was I being faced with obstacle after obstacle? I was now out money for the hotel and money for the tickets, and I had absolutely no good reason for why, just an overwhelming disappointment and a feeling that I didn’t want to be laying in my bed, tears rushing down my face.
And then it occurred to me that this needed to happen, in this exact way. I needed the feeling of disappointment so that I could allow myself to feel the fear and frustration that I had been trying to avoid. Regardless of the type, regardless of the success rate of treatment, regardless of the reality of whether or not I may be able to have more babies at a later date…. A cancer diagnosis is frightening. I’ve done a lot of things since I found out about my diagnosis; I have begun to evaluate my life path in a different light, I have begun to make plans to make bigger and more important changes. It has lit a fire under my ass, and that’s good. But I haven’t allowed myself to have the fear in the quiet moments. I knew that I was scared, but I hadn’t embraced it. I hadn’t mourned it. I hadn’t let myself just get caught up in the emotion of it.
I started to understand that my trip was another attempt at staying busy so I didn’t have to let these emotions in. I began to realize that this was something that I had needed to do, though the feelings are unpleasant; they had to happen. I took the tickets to Frank Turner and tossed them into the recycling bin.
I hopped into my rental car with no destination in mind. I drove west on the freeway, and across the bridge onto the North Shore. I turned off when I saw the signs for Lynn Canyon. I followed the road until I reached the park and the suspension bridge.
I’m sometimes afraid of heights, and yet… I walked out onto the bridge wearing only a hoodie in -2 degrees because that’s what I was drawn to. I stood against the rope as people trudged across behind me, moving and swaying the bridge as they went. The freezing cold wind kissed my face as I thought about everything I had faced today. I wrapped up my anxieties in two tears which fell into the canyon below. I turned and walked back to my car.
I’ve got three days left before I go in for my procedure, and I’m hopeful that this will be the end of it. There is a chance that more treatment will be needed, but… for now I’m trying to take it a day at a time. I am afraid, and that’s okay.
I feel supported in my journey, and that makes the fear easier to face.