If it's not a journey, then what is it?!
Even now, three years after my diagnosis, I still struggle with what to call my cancer “experience”. People use the word “journey” a lot, but I don’t feel like that really captures it. To me, journey is a word reserved for happy feels – besides being an awesome 80s band, it means travel, adventure…excitement! I think of vacation - journeying to an awesome place and taking in all the sights. I don’t think about being in pain and utterly exhausted (even though, those words could also describe a couple of the vacations I’ve been on!).
Breast cancer is more like an old-school wooden roller coaster. You buckle in and then the coaster jerks you forward and you think “OK! Here we go!”. As you slowly climb the first hill, it's bumpy, but you think “Oh, this isn't too bad” and then it jerks forward again and you get a little nervous, like “was that supposed to happen?” As you approach the top of that first hill you think “I can do this! I’ve got this in the bag!” but you're scared. You don't know what twists and turns are at the bottom of that hill, so you tightly grip the handlebars. The coaster races down the hill and you don't know whether or not you want to laugh or cry and then you realize you’re actually screaming.
Things are moving so fast it's hard to keep your eyes open. It’s bumpy for what seems like an eternity but then the coaster slows down and there is a moment of calm until you notice another hill. “This one looks bigger than the first” you think to yourself. But this time you feel a bit more prepared and put on a brave face and maybe even a smile as you race down the hill.
Breast cancer, though, unlike a roller coaster ride doesn’t end. You carry it with you and live with it, perhaps not physically but emotionally, every day. So, for me, breast cancer and living in its aftermath, is like being on an old rickety, never-ending roller coaster. All I hope for is that the track ahead is not nearly as “exciting” as the beginning of the ride…