Happy Independence Day to the United States of America. Hope you all have a great day if you are celebrating with others, or a quiet day if you are chilling out instead.
When the 13 states declared UDI from the Crown they decided that they were going to do things a bit differently from the 'mother' country. They got rid of things that they thought they no longer needed and declared that it was going to be a new country, based on many principles from the old, but with their own twist. Of course things have not always gone smoothly, and the view of what the Declaration of Independence means now is different from those who wrote it, because society has moved on and what is considered to be right and wrong have changed. Some of those who wrote the Declaration were slave owners who didn't necessarily see it as being wrong. Today is is astonishing, to me at least, that anyone could have thought that was right but you can't really judge the past by the attitudes of the present.
I think that many of us must feel that cancer has forced us to declare Independence from the person that we were before our diagnosis. It is not necessarily an independence that we would have wanted, or that we aspired to, as maybe it didn't necessarily suit all those living in the 13 States. Some decided to remain British and left for the home land, or Canada etc. but others adapted, with or without complete enthusiam. But they all would have had to alter their way of life to accomodate their new reality. We have done the same because our lives will never be the same, but we do need to embrace the changes that are forced on us.
When such a change takes place I believe we have to change or give up. I don't think that any of us can go on the in the same way as before because, certainly if you are Stage IV, there is no real promise of things being the same again. There is no expectation of 'after treatment is finished'. I have not had to have very intense treatment since my diagnosis, just a couple of hip replacements and a continuation of hormonal treatment with bisphosphonates to strengthen my bones (Femara and Zoledronic Acid, aka Zometa, if you want to be technical). It is the expectation of a future stretching out in front of you, and which you take completely for granted that has gone. It makes you think.
On one level this can be liberating because I no longer have to really worry about the future. I used to wonder what I would do when I got very old or when I retired and in some ways that was unsettling and scary. What I also realised was how much of the present moment I was wasting worrying about the future! Why? Why do any of us do this? What is the point of worrying about something over which we have no control and which might never be? We have no idea what is going to happen between now and being 60, or 70, or 80... We do have some idea what is going to happen today because we have a certain amount of control over it. I think I have managed to adapt to my new reality. That is not to say that it has been an easy, or a smooth path. There have been many tears and moments of dispair and these can still occur in my life; but I have come to accept them and realise that I also need to experience those bad moments to be able to get to the calmer moments of contentment and happiness. We should all declare independence from our former lives, which does not mean forgetting and rejecting everything that we have experienced but accepting the new state and embracing it and all the potential that it holds.