Crikey. Is it really May since I last posted?
I read a book a very long time ago called Stages of the Soul. It describes how we can go through different stages at times of feeling lost and the steps we take to find ourselves again. It’s a heartwarming read and shares real life stories to illustrate its various points. The author describes this journey in seven stages, from talking about ‘Lost Souls’ (Stage 1) to ‘Re-enchantment’ (Stage 7).
I became a Lost Soul in June.
As you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer last November and have been on hormone therapy since then in an attempt to shrink the two tumours prior to surgery. All was going to plan but in one of my regular scans to keep track of progress, the radiologist saw something that “needed further investigation”.
Me (nearly throwing up): What is it?
Booby Nurse: A small nodule. It might be nothing, but we need a CT scan to get a better look.
Me: Oh bloody bugger.
The next two weeks were possibly the most fraught I have ever experienced. I was shaking when I went in to see the consultant for the results. In the end, it was nothing, but the thoughts that race through your mind are myriad. I’m usually quite a positive person but this hiccup really threw me, I don’t know why.
Stage 2 of The Stages of the Soul is called ‘Falling Through the Cracks’. I fell through in July.
It was like stumbling off the ledge of a very tall building…backwards… in super slow motion…at night…but you never hit the floor…you just keep falling and falling through the earth without ever stopping. Nobody else knows how you’re feeling, life goes on as normal, but you don’t trust your own senses and keep checking to see that your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Your grasp of reality is slightly blurred and you start to wonder if your life is one big joke at your own expense. At least that’s how it felt for me. I started to withdraw.
Stage 3 is ‘Compassion’, and Stage 4 is ‘Tapestry .’ These are essentially about self care and reflection, giving yourself a break and not beating yourself up too much that life has taken a turn down Shitty Street. I spent about a couple of weeks at these stages, and luckily for me, part of that time was at a friend’s beautiful villa in Northern Portugal. No wifi or tv for seven days. The Scoundrels were not impressed with this violation of their Human Rights.
The Scoundrels(with more than a hint of whine in their voices.): We’re bored…
Me: Good. See if your imagination still works.
The Scoundrels: Our what?…
Me (muttering under my breath): ffs
Me and The Hair, however, revelled in this novel space and pondered existential questions about ‘values’ and ‘authenticity’ and whether we should open the red or the white next. As ever, reading was my medicine, as well as the Vihno Verde, and I lost myself in the pages the books I had brought with me.
When we got back from our hols, it was back to the breast unit for D Day. Although the surgeon had hoped for a lumpectomy, it was decided I would need to go for a therapeutic breast lift because of the position of the tumours. The Hair’s eyes widened slightly at the words ‘breast’ and ‘lift’. I confess I was rather jollied by this thought too, until I realised I might end up lopsided. My fears were soon allayed by my fabulous surgeon who assured me she wouldn’t leave me wonky, but we needed to be sure all the cancer was out before she did anything to the healthy boob. There was also a small risk that there may be some surprises lurking once they opened me up which could mean a mastectomy would be necessary.
By this time is was mid August and I had reached Stage 5 ‘Attic Wisdom’. You know when you go up in the loft, or hunt around the back of a cupboard, and discover memories and things you’d completely forgotten about and each holds some kind of magic that makes you realise all will be well? That’s Attic Wisdom. The deep rooted sense that you have survived countless set backs, enjoyed many a precious moment with loved ones, and there is something ethereal about this. I have rested here, in this attic, since then. Comforting myself with the knowledge that good times and bad times come to us all, but that this too shall pass.
And so I find myself at Stage 6 in my soul’s journey, ‘Return – Coming Back to the World World You Left’.
With a date in the diary for surgery (20th September) soon to be followed by 3 weeks of radiotherapy (daily, Monday to Friday) it feels like I can see light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. I’m on the bottom rung of the loft ladder, ready to step back into the real world again.
I’m not too sure when I will reach the final stage, Stage 7 ‘Re-enchantment – Teaching Our Hearts to Sing Again”. Singing feels a long way off, but I reckon I can soon manage a quiet hum.