• Lara Flanagan

Waiting and other life’s lessons

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

I have turned myself into a pretzel of worry this week waiting for the results of my biopsy and it has reminded me of a couple of things.  Just so people know, my biopsy returned a positive result of a BCC – a basil cell carcinoma so yes I need surgery and yes I will have a scar. I have been told we have got it early and the scar will be minimal so in terms of where my brain took me in the wee hours of every night this week, the outcome is good. Knowing is so much better than waiting. Waiting and not knowing. That is the worst.  The life lessons I have learned this week from being a worry bound pretzel:

It is easier to be strong when you have someone to be strong for.

The night of my biopsy Archie came out to me about 10pm trying not to cry and he asked me if it was going to be cancer and did that mean that I would…..  then he burst into tears. That little moment and that little boy was such a vital lesson for me.  A reminder that my priority was my kids and that they had their own demons that haunted them.  Ever since the kids were diagnosed with MEN2A when they were 10 months old I made a promise to myself that I would never lie to them. (Santa Claus, unicorns, magic and knowing that your sister swings on a star and flicks her cigarette butts at you do not count as lies, they are my inner beliefs and that is different.) I would never lie to them so that they would trust me if things ever got bad for them. I never considered that that it might also help them to be brave if something was to happen to their Momma. So when they ask me if their needles are going to hurt I tell them that they will but only for a few seconds. That way if there is anything big to deal with they will trust me. So I told him that yes, I though it was going to be cancer but chances were that it would only be a little one and it would probably involve another scar. I also told him that he never has to fear that I would ever do anything to myself. Never, ever ever. That is something he never has to worry about. I popped my head into Rissie’s room and she was wide awake worrying about the same thing. So I repeated my words and I am glad I did. The rest of the week, I stayed strong for them. I could not talk to anyone, but I was able to tell people electronically that I couldn’t speak as I had to be strong for the kids. They were my priority and people got that and understood. That is love.

Our worries are rarely as bad as the reality.

My mental travels in the wee hours were not so good. When someone you love has gone through hell and back due to skin cancer and ultimately it got too much, then naturally your mind takes you to pretty dark places. On the night before I was due to get my results back, I surfed the net and looked for evidence of what my results were going to be. By the morning I was a nervous wreck. I had got myself into such a state that being advised that I had an operable BCC was a blessed relief.

Listening is the biggest gift that we can give someone.

I don’t get out much, but in the last week, I have heard quite a few stories about people’s experiences with skin cancer. I listened to these stories with a little bit of shock and awe. I particularly liked being told that I better get a good plastic surgeon as I wouldn’t want to be dealing with disfigurement. It was my face after all. I felt like asking that particular joy giver if they thought I was going to get a tree surgeon.  Obviously those people needed to be listened to but I don’t think many of the story tellers realised what my fears were related to or walked away even understanding why a bandage on my face filled me with dread. I learnt it with MS when I heard how many people are experts on a disease that you can know little about unless you have it. Apparently many people’s aunt’s brother-in-laws had it once and they were just fine. One thing I try to do now is listen. To say little but ask someone how they are doing and to let them talk. That is often all anyone needs, is to be heard. It is a gift that I think is a rare and wonderful one, the art of listening.

That scars tell a story.

Ultimately I will have a scar. Fingers crossed it will be a small scar. But that is so much better than the alternatives that I was worried about. I have a few scars, physical, mental and heart scars. They will always be there, but they tell a story of bravery and survival. They tell a story of having lived. Scars remind someone that they survived.

I love a simple life.

This week has been a quiet week for the kids and I. School holidays can be tough as I work and the kids potter and are pretty much left to their own devices. But our simple little life has been a blessing this week. Our walks, our daily ritual of finding something beautiful. The kids were watching me like a hawk and I was watching them back. We got movies from the library. Rissie made us pasta for a late lunch. The kids told me they would do their jobs this week without pocket money as they were going to their dads. As I was working, so would they. When they left today, the wood box was filled, the guinea pig food was cut up, the dogs were washed and my floors were vacuumed. We lay on the floor in the afternoon and dinners were lounge room picnics as we finished off each day with Basil Fawlty. The week could not have been any more simple. But it was just what we needed.

Waiting sucks. But it came with some pretty lovely gifts as well. It reminded me how grateful I am.

Now we focus on our wait for rain and I am so aware every day, of what that wait means for many.  I am lucky enough to live in a lovely region that I am blessed to call home but where so many are doing it tough.

Yet there is so much hope. If we see black cockatoos I am told that they mean rain. A red sunrise brings excitement because that might mean rain. A strange psychic bird has shown someone else the high water mark of the next rain. Actually that story sort of made me think we might need Noah and his ark but I thought it was amazingly hopeful, if possibly a little catastrophic. Everyone is waiting for something I guess. The gift I am learning, is to watch the way that people deal with the waiting. I am constantly inspired by those who wait and continue to live, in a way that makes me have a great deal of faith in humanity.

It has been a big week. So many lessons and so many reasons to be grateful.


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