Don’t Look Back in Anger was a song by Oasis that came out while I was in high school and remains my favorite song by the band who was supposed to be the “next Beatles.” That didn’t even come close to happening and since the Gallagher Brothers couldn’t get along the band didn’t last either.
But enough about my post title referring to a song of my younger days.
We always hear don’t look back, look ahead especially at the start of a new year. We need to focus on what’s in front of us when we walk and when we drive or we could crash into something. As a former runner, you always focus on what is ahead and don’t look back as turning around often indicating you are getting tired and instead need to focus on getting through the remainder of the race. (It’s also wasted energy to turn around while running but enough about that.)
While we can’t get stuck in the past we can learn from it and become stronger from it. As Rafiki told Simba in the Lion King “The past can hurt. But as I can see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” And what a powerful quote this is.
Cancer took so much from me in 2022 but I’m realizing I can also look back at the year and see how much I gained from all I went through. I can look back in anger but also in awe in all that I was able to get through and accomplish in a challenging year.
Cancer took my job which I’m still trying to move past. But looking at the situation I know I did a very good job in that role because the pool and fitness center reached the point where they are practically running themselves. I spent the hours sorting our club pool usage time and those clubs are still using our pool and we are still making a lot of money from the work I did to reopen during the pandemic. There is finally an online registration system for the pool and fitness center that I started to use to book swim time and lanes and met with vendors online to find the best one for our needs. I am mad someone got to just take my job but in part it’s because I made it easy as things were in really good shape when I had to go out on leave. I did good.
I always compared myself to other moms and felt I wasn’t doing enough especially as a working mom. I worried about how much I would miss out on this year due to my cancer. I was still able to be there for my kids even if I was weak and limited at times. I tried to keep things as normal as possible with them while undergoing chemo and a mastectomy and was still able to venture out with them. And not just one kid or two kids, but four and then five. I am a good mom and can do more with five kids and all I have undergone than some parents can with only one child and a lot less going on.
I hate all the complications I’ve had due to the breast reconstruction I underwent. Prior to my mastectomy I never had surgery other than for my port placement which was a relatively easy procedure. Now after undergoing four surgeries including the mastectomy I no longer fear going under the knife again. Trust me I don’t look forward to it but I know the discomfort and pain are temporary and I can get through.
I’m someone who is always on the go. It’s hard for me to take it easy. I had to allow myself to slow down and rest and not do much even though I really wanted to be up and about. I learned to relax and take time for myself which I so rarely do. My husband and I had a few kid free (non-medical appointment) outings that are so healthy for our relationship and that we hadn’t done since prior to the pandemic. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes and take the time I need.
I lost my hair but grew to not care that I had to walk around in a hat. I wasn’t ashamed that everyone knew I had cancer. I was a fighter and proud of how strong I was. I continue to enjoy my shorter hair that is coming in nicely and that I have no expectations for. It’s nice to no longer care and just wait and see what happens on top of my head.
I lost my fitness which I worked hard to achieve. Despite losing a lot of arm and core strength I was still able to work out almost every day even while pregnant and undergoing chemo and after all my procedures. I’ve learned to adapt workouts to what I can do and have good lower body routines I’ve developed.
I gained a lot of weight post pregnancy thanks to steroids I was on and being less active but I leaned to appreciate my body even if it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I was able to push out my fifth child while undergoing chemo and while it took a long time for my body to bounce back I gradually got close to where I was pre pregnancy. Even though I’m carrying more weight still that’s ok. My body has been through hell and those pounds on the scale don’t matter as much as me being here and healthy. If I have some more pounds due to all my treatment and surgery so what?
I lost a lot last year because of cancer but I gained a lot too. I gained a new appreciation of life and all that I am lucky to have. I am still working through the anger and sadness of all that cancer took away from me but I’m also able to look back on last year and say wow you made it through all that Erin so you can make it through anything.
There were a lot of ups and downs but these challenges have only made me stronger. I look forward to hopefully an easier 2023 than 2022 but I don’t have to turn the page on the new year and never look back. At times I’ll look back in anger, but I can also look back with pride and awe at all that I was able to accomplish despite all I lost and went through.
When we drive ahead we can still look through the rear view mirror at what we are leaving behind. Good or bad, the road behind us leads us to the road ahead and to new adventures awaiting us.
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