Time on My Hands

by Debbie Twomey on April 6, 2017



It has been 10 days since I had my lumpectomy and all is going well. I have to be super vigilant because of my MRSA so I will not be out of the woods on that front for another 4 days. If I do not have an infection it will be the first time since November that I was in a hospital and did not break out with it. And I believe because my surgeon knew what was best and put me right on Vancomycin immediately upon arrival and for the next 24 hours. I do not think I could bear another episode of cellulitis on top of this surgery.

I am still awaiting my lab results. All of us know, no matter what we are waiting for, the wait is sometimes the hardest part. I get through one obstacle, not having cancer that is ER negative only to have to agonize over the staging and what is next.

I have to say there are days when I think, this isn’t so rough. Then I will have a terrible day when I worry about how much my boob hurts and will I ever be free of cancer. I am not so sure being alone so darn much is always a good thing especially when the brain wants to go into overtime.

I have heard personally from several women who have faced this same battle and I am amazed, truly amazed and humbled. I am so grateful for their stories and tips. Betsy, Judy, Billie, Joann, Deb, Chris, Monica, Kim and Jennifer have been kind enough to share their journeys and the outcome to date. Each one is very different but the really great aspect is that they are all here to tell me their stories. That is one relief; the rate of survival is continuing to increase.

One of the side effects of being diagnosed with cancer is understanding our own mortality. Sure, over the years I have thought about death and what if it happened suddenly or when I was younger. I always lived in fear of death, of the unknown. Even with a spiritual faith, it is still just that, a belief of what is beyond life and I love life so much I never imagined the time could come that I would want it to be time to let it go.

I am a very tactile person, I do better if I can see and touch what I need to know. But death is a concept and its only tangible result is the person we once knew as alive is now GONE. Many of us have personally seen death coming to a loved one and the devastation it inflicts. But no one truly knows what happens to that person’s energy/spirit. We have our beliefs to hold onto and for many this helps us to get through the whole process of losing someone. Each religion has its own tenet of what happens once the body dies and I have always envied those whose faith was so strong they had no doubts. That is not ME.

I need to believe that the energy and love remain in this world when we lose someone. When my grandfather passed away I was relieved that his pain ended but I had such dark moments where I missed him so terribly and just wanted him back. Then when I lost my Mom that feeling was so intensified. I never doubted the decisions made were for her, not once. But the ache of missing her can seem unbearable at times, especially those first years.

And I wonder, will my life have mattered? Did my Mom wonder that? She knew it was the end even though it was sudden and unexpected. Was she ready in her heart or just resigned to the inevitable? Or maybe her body was just so tired of the physical battles she had endured. But did she know her life mattered? Did she know how very much we did not want to let go of her and that her life had so much meaning?

I have talked with my sister Karen in depth about this feeling of did my life matter. I fear being forgotten and a blank space left where I used to be. I have always feared being invisible which is probably why I have been the attention seeking loudmouth child in our family. I worried about death when I was young, way too often. I lost good friends to murder when I was 9 and that may be the reason why, I will never really know. But I feared dying and more than anything, being in a coffin and never ever dancing or laughing or just saying hello ever again. It used to paralyze me when I was younger.

I wonder will my life have touched many others. Will my siblings remember me fondly and will my daughter finally be able to look back and know how much she was wanted and loved. I cannot even think about McKenna and how my not being around will or will not affect her. My heart cannot bear this thought even for one moment.

I do not wish to be morbid, only reflective of what is to be considered when a cancer diagnosis is given. Reality is, we do not know and we need to be prepared for anything and everything. I sometimes find it offensive when I hear people say to other cancer patients, “You need to fight” or “this person fought so hard and won” as if to negate another person’s fight if they died from cancer. Strength is nothing anyone else can measure for us just as no one can know what our bodies and mind can endure. In comparing we diminish a person’s own struggle. I have always thought that was not really fair. Strength is personal; I will say that again—STRENGTH is personal.

I believe life is the most amazing gift we will ever receive and living that life is so important. I have done many interesting and exciting things in my life but these last few years have been pretty sedentary and I do not mind that because while I was not out climbing mountains anymore, I was quietly giving and receiving Love. I was living in love and watching the most amazing human being grow and learn and thrive. And the gift she gave to me is so immeasurable.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I hope my life had meaning. I hope I brought smiles and laughter and love to many. I hope I lived a decent life and made up for the many mistakes or hurts I was responsible for. I hope I did some good living in between my dashes of 1955-?. I hope I will live on in the hearts of many and I will not be forgotten.

No, this is not saying cancer is going to win, this is just wondering, simply wondering.


Live Laugh Love




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dior Clancy April 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Debbie, I enjoy reading what you wrote, I have the same problems with death, having lost 2 children. I cry every day, missing them. Also I fear death, I have panic attacks every day over these things, I was raised Catholic, like you, but I pray their really is more, more for all of us. I wish you well, and pray for you. Love Dior


Mary Starr Carter April 7, 2017 at 11:12 pm

This was good very good.  Because I know you it was special.  Our good deeds don't save us only salvation does and that isn't earned or deserved. But some beleive that our good deeds fill a home with treasures in heaven.  And you my dear have a mansion waiting for you full of treasures. .  

Without a doubt you have affected thousands of lives most you will never see the full picture until you are sitting with your Good Daddy in Heaven. And I am sure the GREAT I AM is going to fill it for you with lots and lots of pictures of all the lives, moments, and people you have blessed while on earth.

I love you friend… and strength is personal… no one knows our story our fight, our ways except our Good Daddy in Heaven.   


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