There are two sides to my illness. On the one hand the delightful, unmistakable fact that the chemotherapy is already pushing back the cancer. I really do feel it: the lump is shrinking. Enough reason to waltz around the room!

On the other hand, I also read the hard facts: chemotherapy often works well against triple negative breast cancer but that is no guarantee that it will stop the – much more dangerous – metastases in the bones and lungs. Besides, this specific breast cancer often recurs in the first years after treatment. So, statistics are not to my advantage.  Fortunately I know that statistics are very important if you want to know what happens to 100 people who are in a comparable situation. They are less significant if you’re mainly interested in the survival of one of them. 

When my tall, handsome beloved was ill, I was tossed back and forth between hopes and fears. Feeling guilty sometimes when fear had the upper hand once again, because ‘being positive is important’. This was wearing me down, until I allowed myself to acknowledge two scenarios for the future and let them coexist in my thoughts. This same attitude helps me now. In scenario A the treatments to ban the cancer forever from my body are successful. I may suffer from chronic fatigue and recurring fear afterwards but can get on with my life that is so dear to me. The experience I have gained, I then can use to try to help others. In scenario Z the cancer is not defeated, and I’ll have to leave my loved ones and my body, and I’ll experience what God in his great love will have in store for me. Neither the care professionals nor I know which scenario will come true and when. Like two racing horses A and Z, together in the race.

Scenario Z induces me to make timely preparations and have orientating conversations, e.g. with a notary public and an undertaker. Not pleasant, but a useful thing to do for anyone. These steps do not distract me from preparations for scenario A, on the contrary. Everything is being done to make scenario A succeed. I undergo heavy chemotherapy, exercise as much as possible, enjoy the company of my family and friends, keep a healthy diet, go on making plans for the future, keep hoping and know how to make a party of little things. 

During the illness of my beloved, I learned that there are compassionate people who prefer to ignore scenario Z. I respect and understand that.