Feb 11, 2013

Cancer Sucks: Keeping the Important Things in Sight

I'm definitely at a point of negativity and sadness at the moment. Everything seems unusually hard, and I can't quite reconcile all the everyday things I have to do with wanting to be in Peterborough and spending time with my grandma, since there is definitely not much of it left. Cancer sucks.  I've been back to visit the last three weekends out of four, and though I'm glad I was there, school just isn't taking care of itself while I'm gone, the house isn't cleaning itself and I just can't turn off my emotions. There are a lot of tears happening these days, and none of this has been very conducive to blogging much either. But since blogging is one of my outlets for working through things, I have been wanting to share a bit about where I'm at.

I'm wishing that I knew everything about my grandma and her side of the family, hoping that I'm able to ask any important questions before it's too late and wishing that I'd been able to be around for visits more before she got really sick. I mean, it's been a long three years of her having cancer, and I definitely could have been around more than I was. I know she doesn't fault me for it - school and work and living further away are valid reasons, but all I know if that I feel like I could have done more. Being back as much as I have this month, and spending time with other family members reminiscing about old times has been very eye opening. I've heard a lot of family stories I'd never heard before, about my grandma and her brother growing up in Toronto, of my great- grandma's family and past, of my mom's experiences growing up and managed to laugh in the midst of the sadness.

There are some other positive aspects to her illness as well, at least for me. When Nannie was first diagnosed with cancer, her illness was an impetus for me to make a lot of changes in my life three years ago. Within a month of the diagnosis I'd decided to move from Toronto to Guelph, to see what would happen with a boy, to quit a job I was tired of, to and  apply to go back to school in a field I was more interested in. Cancer has its positive effects too, I guess, in making you realize how limited our time really is, and how we can get stuck where we are, and sometimes need a push to get moving towards change. That the mortality of ourselves and those around us can remind us how we can't always put things off until later, since our time might end up running out before we get around to it.

Someone posted this article from the Guardian earlier, and since I've read it, it's all I can think about. A nurse working in palliative care asked her patients what their biggest regret was, and wrote a book about the top five regrets of her dying patients. No one regretted not spending more time working or studying or watching television or cleaning. Everyone regretted working too much, not spending time with friends, not having the courage to live the life they wanted to or express the emotions they wanted to express. They regretted holding themselves back from experiencing happiness and being complicit in being unhappy and unfulfilled in their lives.

I guess I'm wondering how much I'm doing all of these things to myself right now, if I'm making all the time I can to be happy and do the things that matter in the midst of the large amount of work and schoolwork that I'm currently in the middle of. I'm wondering how to grab more of those moments of happiness, of what I can change in the short term to get more of those moments in my life. I don't want to have more of these regrets weighing me down. I want to connect with people and have them know me in return. I want to have time for those who are important to me and change the habits I've built up around myself that are taking away from my happiness. I want to make the most of the time I have left with my Nannie, and keep my family closer than I have.

I'd love for there to be an easy way to do all of this, but I guess I'll have to settle for asking for some help when I need it, and letting things go for now that aren't as important or pressing in the bigger scheme of things.  And that will have to be enough, because it will be the best I can do.

♥ Craftzilla


  1. I'm sorry to hear you're going through such a difficult and sad time. My granny died last year, the day I was supposed to be visiting her, so I never got to say goodbye, and felt so guilty for not going sooner. But my mum tells me to focus on all the time I did spend with her - and she had a draw full of all the letters and cards I wrote her. The time you're spending now will mean so much to you both.

    1. Oh my, that is sad--but as you say, you spent lots of time with her, and that's what counts :) And yes, it's meaning a lot to me to be able to be there when I can...it's making the sadness a little bit less.

  2. Aww Gilli.. this is a tough time. I feel for you. Nothing is more 'centering' than knowing that our lives are precious and fleeting.. it's too bad it often takes death/near death experiences to remind us of that. I do hope you're finding your balance and peace through this time. Cancer does suck. And losing a loved one.. especially a Grandparent is like an entire library of stories being burned down. Thinking/praying for you and your family.
    needle and nest

    1. Yeah I guess I'm a hard sell on remembering that when there aren't sickly relatives around...it always hits me in those moments how fleeting things are, for sure. I'm trying to find my balance, but I guess I'm finding I've scheduled myself so much that finding space to make for family or to be sad is difficult. Luckily people are pretty understanding. And yeah, this is the last library left, so it's burning down is saddest of all :(

      xo Gillian


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