I absolutely love what I do. Let me clarify that a wee bit further.
I mean to the point that when I’m forced to sit and ponder what I would do if this field dried up? I just can’t think of anything. Oh sure, there are a few things that come to mind but I don’t know that they would even come close to the joy I get in this simple penning for our local community.
In truth, I’ve missed a bit of the hustle. Thanks to COVID and my personal journey with cancer a lot has been changed over the past year. In truth, it’s simply not been easy.
What I mean by this is midway through my journey (aka treatment) I opted to return to work. Maintaining as much “normalcy” during the perils of cancer treatment was important to me. Fortunately I work for a team that understood that would look a lot different than it once did. My workload would be less and my flexibility; well, that would have to change as well.
The funny thing about doing what you love is, that if you’re not careful it can take over your life or at minimum run in the lead of everything else more often than not. As my health became the primary concern and focus, I had to relook at how important I made everyone else feel and flip the switch a bit - that was hard, but necessary.
As I type this, I am still accepting this a bit. This is historically my “busy” time, my energy however is not quite yet up to what it needs to be to maintain the hustle needed to do all the things.
The funny thing is, most people I went through treatment with did not work. Many shared they were simply too tired from the side effects of their regimen. Some shared they had lost their jobs, when treatment kept them away from work more than 12 weeks. I’ve been fortunate on many counts, this I know for sure.
The last Wednesday of April was my final (of 33) radiation treatments.
Sitting in the office with my Radiation Oncologist we discussed my journey, 365 days to the date prior, I had my port put in for chemotherapy. He and I discussed a lot of things. We laughed a lot and I cried equally as much. The sense of relief I felt that day, I don’t know if I can ever completely articulate it. We were done.
As he shared with me some thoughts and I inquired on returning to work in a full time capacity, he simply smiled and shook his head. The words which followed were those of a man who has seen a lot and I remain grateful for his wisdom.
He encouraged me to do the opposite. To take a few weeks, maybe even a month off to just let it all sink in. “You have been through a lot,” he said. He continued on to share the beauty of a breast cancer diagnosis is regardless of the stage or aggressive nature, treatment is so dialed in that often times a patient may be in their second chemo treatment before it truly begins to sink in that they have cancer.
“It all happens very fast, because we know exactly what to do to irradiate it,” he said, “but that can leave a patient in shock as there is little time to process everything.”
Truth be told, as I type this I am still adjusting to no pending appointments on my calendar other than the orthodontist for my kids. It’s truly surreal in many ways.
I don’t see myself taking time off to sit in stillness, maybe I’ll take a day or two and not let my family know – I’ll simply be “on assignment” – that might be fun.
What I know for sure is that once the dust all settles and the fatigue subsides I’ll be excited to be “back at it” so to speak. That will look a little different from here on in. This life is just quite simply too fleeting and fragile to put any story or individual ahead of myself or my family; we’ve got things to do.
So while I look forward to hearing from many of you again and once again appearing in person the fair warning is there. I truly love what I do, that’s good fortune. Even more fortunate is to love my life away from the keyboard and that is now where my priority will lie. As I told my kids, someday when I’m dead and gone my words will continue to have impact on lives; that’s a gift. My kids’ lives, however, will continue to have impact on the world, that’s a blessing. - Amen
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.