More than two years ago, I vanished from here.
It’s been that long since I’ve written anything on this breast cancer blog, and I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to start again. It feels kind of like returning to the gym after a hiatus; it is so much harder than starting from scratch. I think it is because we bring along the memories of our enthusiastic beginnings, fueled with possibility and expectation, our progress and success, and we wonder how we could have let it slip away. We hope no one notices, or if they do, that they just assume we’ve been working out at a better gym. That they won’t judge us as we – casually, as if we have been doing it all along – run the grungy keychain tag under the scanner, before the slightly-too-loud voice at the desk demands to know when we were last here?, because they haven’t used those tags since, like, 2013. Thanks. Gulp. Busted.
There are many reasons I stopped writing about breast cancer, the most relevant one being that my work over the past two years, with young women living with metastatic breast cancer, has been time-consuming, and difficult, and has demanded the full use of the dealing-with-breast-cancer part of my brain, and that and more of my heart. So I did vanish from here, though, importantly, I have not vanished from the earth. I wish I could say the same for my patients. It’s been so hard to lose so many.
I’m excited to be writing again, but it may not be so much about breast cancer from here on out. Maybe not at all, or maybe sometimes. This is the role cancer plays in my life now, because it has been eleven years, and I have been very lucky. There are things about it I live with daily, things that rise up without warning, raising holy hell, and things I hardly think of or remember. These days, I might mention it, or it might not come up. So we will have to see.
But it will stay QuiverVoice. Because it is still about telling the truth, even – and maybe especially – if your voice shakes. Because breast cancer is part of who I am now, and forever, even if I am not thinking about it at the moment. Because survivors of all kinds are keenly aware that we have a limited number arrows in our quiver, that we must choose our trade-offs wisely and well, that we need to keep the long view in sight.
And that, if we are very lucky, there are so many other parts of the story to tell.