The Nine R’s of November: Reach



One day this week I am going to wake up and it will be a year from the day the internal medicine specialist called and told me he found cancer in my bones. We didn’t know what kind of cancer, just that it was there. I spent a very scary weekend in the hospital hoping it was breast cancer because, you know, that is the ‘curable’ kind. You go through chemo, lose your hair, get a set of new boobs, and spout the pink slogans for the rest of your life.

I didn’t know about stage IV breast cancer.

But this post isn’t really about my spectacular ignorance.

One of my favourite things about Facebook is the “Facebook memories” feature. I don’t go on Facebook a lot but I do post a lot of photos through Instagram onto Facebook so that family members can see my girls. I love that feature because it is such a great little glimpse into the past. Also, memories of 3 and 4-year old Fionnuala are always hilarious. But lately the memories from last year at this time involve a lot of photos of me laying in bed and wondering why I’m in so much pain. Worrying if something was seriously wrong with me but not wanting to really believe it. It was at this time, before my diagnosis, that I decided to put myself in the picture with my girls more – just in case.

As odd as it seems the word reach reminds me of all of this. The reason is that at the time I couldn’t physically reach for anything. I had seven broken ribs (a number I like to throw around a lot because of the look on peoples faces). Seven! I could barely carry myself around let alone anyone or anything else.

But at no time did I really believe I was reaching the end. Sure there were times when I felt colossally awful – I find it hard to remember just how much pain I was in at times (thanks Percocet!) but I never felt like the end was coming. I always thought I was going to come out the other side even though I didn’t know what the other side was going to look like.

I haven’t reached the end yet and these days I am feeling so much better (by comparison) that I still can’t imagine what the end is going to look like. Sometimes I wonder if I’m in a bit of denial, or if it’s just my personality not to think too deeply into these things. I have so many wonderful things going on in my life. I have so many more things to do, and so much more of life to reach for.

But then again, I wonder if anyone is ever ready to reach their destination.

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