My 18-week chemo plan is coming to an end, rather appropriately, with a race, although not one that I was running. I was a road marshal at mile 12 of the Ealing Half Marathon this morning and now have sore hands and a croaky voice from cheering everyone on. If there was some way of measuring the well-being in a community then it would have rocketed today, from people achieving pbs or doing their first half-marathon, from family and friends supporting and cheering people on, from volunteers making it all run smoothly, from children doing the mini mile and getting the running bug, from people giving and receiving, supporting and encouraging.
I’ve been struggling a bit for the last couple of weeks. It is a relief to finish chemo, but a few things have brought home to me just how much of an assault on my whole being this illness and its treatment is, affecting body, mind and spirit. I find it hard to be a weaker version of myself. I feel tender somehow, as if I am walking around with an outer layer of myself peeled away. Brene Brown talks about the importance of vulnerability for a whole-hearted life, but even she recognises that it’s unhealthy to be vulnerable with everyone all the time, that there is a time and a place for it; I feel that I have little choice. I’ve always enjoyed getting things done and doing them well. At the moment I don’t feel that I’m doing anything very well at all – work, running, friends, study, making plans. And I accept that that’s how it has to be at the moment. It’s not that I’m expecting too much of myself, more that I’m missing out on something that is essential to everyone’s well-being – a sense of competence and achievement. I think that’s the way we’re made, that we have gifts and talents that we need to use to feel fully human, and so it’s hard if our usual outlets for doing what we love are denied to us. But this weekend has been really good for my soul, giving me a sense of feeling connected and contributing to something bigger, and reminding me just how many people are supporting me at the moment, cheering me on in this different kind of endurance event.
I’m having surgery in a couple of weeks and probably radiotherapy after that so there’s still a way to go, and I want to finish this well. I follow Morning Bell on twitter, a thought and an image from Ian Adams that invites you to start the day in stillness. At the moment each day is a phrase from the passage in Ecclesiastes that begins ‘there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.’ I’ve been thinking about what kind of time I’m in at the moment:
A time to be and to endure,
A time to stay connected and to receive the love of family and friends,
A time to be kind to myself and allow myself to be cared for,
A time to choose gratitude and to find pleasure in small things,
A time to be open to new things and new friendships,
A time to heal and to choose life, to reflect and grow,
A time when joy and sorrow are close companions,
And a time that will come to an end.