by Aimee Taylor
I have walked an interesting line since my diagnosis five years ago: one foot in hope, the other in death, walking precariously across a tightrope. The death part is heavy and tends to trip me up repeatedly, but hope is often stronger; it lifts me up and keeps me balanced, heading to safety.
With an “incurable” cancer, I have been told again and again by doctors that I should enjoy the time I do have as much as possible, as it likely won’t last. But I prefer to live a life of hope whenever I can (and I like using quotations for scary words like “incurable” for good reason). I believe that hope is a powerful motivator, and, of course, is much less burdensome to carry around on my back all day.
But it is a tricky balance. I have watched many a friend die, and I know that I am not immortal. My cancer may take me. Wills need to be completed, finances need to be sorted, letters need to be written and videos need to be recorded for my daughter, in case she won’t remember me. I am doing all of these things. I have to.
And I am also planning trips for next summer. Today, I got on my road bike in spite of just having my 21st round of chemo, in the hopes that I’ll complete another Fondo. I talk about spending a summer in France with my partner and our daughter in a few years, a trip to Africa when my daughter is ten, going back to do my MFA one day. In my version of life, these things are all possible. They are not certain – nothing is – but they are possible. There is a lot of hope in possibilities. In the world of cancer, hope does not have to be a bad word.
Aimee Taylor is a past retreat participant and member of Callanish’s Younger Adult Group. She is a writer, researcher, musician, mother and more.