My mum says that when I heard I had cancer, my reaction was “How annoying. Now that I had so many projects in my hands”. She says that I spoke as if I was bothered by a nuisance like when there’s too much traffic, and I’m going to be late, or as if I had realized that there are two appointments overlapping on my schedule. I vaguely remember saying it, the words sounding artificial coming out of my mouth, like when you have voicemail and it’s some random call-center lady speaking. I vaguely remember I didn’t want them to be worried. I vaguely remember wanting to still be in control.
I had no idea then what cancer meant. I mean, I had seen my mum ill and bald from chemotherapy, but that had been eighteen years prior. It was also a memory that I made my best to bury under everything I have ever had the (dis)pleasure to experience. When they told me at the oncology hospital that getting well depended on chemo, surgery, and radiotherapy sessions, it sounded dreadfully familiar. It was shocking too. In my mind breast cancer happened to settled middle-aged women who had a family, children, perhaps grandchildren already. I was a childless 34-year-old millennial with no nuclear family of her own and a firm conviction that she had a whole lot of duties to attend to. It felt like they were talking about someone else, not me.
So illness happened while I was absent from the blog. About the good parts: I have had the chance to catch up with reading, to do yoga, to start therapy, to visit museums, to write. I look at illness from a holistic perspective, so I’m trying to do the inner work that hopefully will help untie the psychological knots that brought me here. I am, however, not much more enlightened now as to what caused my cancer than I was at the beginning. Will science ever be able to give me a clear answer? Will our health system ever be able to treat acute conditions like this with food-medicine, energy + trauma healings and radical lifestyle changes? I can only hope we’ll get that far. Chemo is doable but quite a dark night of the soul. It feels bizarre that to get better, you have to take drugs that make you feel so sick, and for so long. All in all, it’s going to be around one year of sitting out for me, as I can’t really commit to work that pays. I’m officially a chemo-marathoner.
I had thought of taking my readers with me on the journey, but I froze. Part of it was me not wanting to turn this into a cancer blog. Another part of it was how uncomfortable it felt to not be in control. To realize that such a thing doesn’t even exist. So I wrote a bit about what I was going through on Instagram captions and on insta-stories. After all, it did feel like an obligation to give visibility to the non-flashy parts of life. And I waited.
It didn’t take long until the drugs dissolved the intruder. Although I still have a way to go when it comes to treatment, my medical file already includes a report stating that the tumor that once inhabited my body is gone. Puff. Finito. Total remission. I’ve been meaning to share this here for a while now. I got awarded a second chance at life. Now I need to power through what’s left of the trajectory the doctor’s designed for me. In the meanwhile, I’ll be around with Amsterdam stories.
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