It started with Friday night wine. As a tradition to mark the beginning of a weekend together, it has a special place in my heart. That is, until chemo wrestled in on the action and stole away my tastebuds. Chemo has a skill of turning even a beautiful Cotes du Rhone into the most vinegary plonk imaginable. Trust me, it is not a party trick of which I am particularly fond and it certainly doesn’t do much to give you that Friday feeling.
I am, however, thankful to chemo the comfort-stealer for one thing. By targeting and eliminating life’s pleasures, it has provided me with the opportunity to enjoy them all again as if for the first time. Chemo turned a normal night into one of the best Friday nights ever because it decided to hand back my tastebuds (albeit temporarily) and with them my love of red wine. Every sip of that full-bodied beauty is now wonderful wine memory tucked away for me to draw on whenever the palette goes wonky again.
In lesson number 47 (click here for more), I wrote about the joys of rediscovering your ‘normal’ and the way in which something you’ve taken for granted for years can suddenly become exciting and beautiful once more. I hope that everyone gets the chance to do this (without the chemo drugs in tow), because it really is a source of great happiness.
Yesterday I took a day away from blogging and from cancer to soak up every moment of a typical bank holiday Saturday. And, you know what? It felt wonderful. The contents of my Saturday are not particularly blogworthy, but that’s the point. A breakfast of eggs in purgatory (if you haven’t had this amazing recipe, click here to head to my lovely friend Rachel’s blog for inspiration). A trip to the garden centre. Three hours of sorting and clearing in the garden. A glass of wine in the evening sunshine. A walk in the park and a lovely curry at home. Each one an ordinary moment that made me feel extraordinary. When digging out the composter with a trowel makes you smile, you know that you’ve started to see the world through different eyes.
As proof of our hard work, here’s Duncan in the garden trying out his top for our 10k run (it arrived yesterday). Quite why he felt the need to raise awareness for breast cancer in our garden was beyond me, but it was really nice to be able to spend some quality time together in the mud! (As an aside thank you so much to everyone who has given so generously so far in sponsorship for the run. I will thank you all individually over the next few months.)
Duncan used a lovely gardening analogy when talking about the year so far over a very normal drink in Greenwich. He likened cancer treatment to pruning a rose. Pruning is often brutal and can make a flower look messy and sad for a while. But, when pruned, a flower can come back stronger and more beautiful than ever before. He said there is no time to feel sad. Just time to take action and grow stronger. For a maths graduate, I thought that was pretty special. Will certainly make me remember that drink!
I know this feeling won’t last forever. But it is a feeling I want you to experience too. I want you to linger longer over those bluebells in the park. I want you to drink in the scent of spring on freshly-laundered clothes. I want you to read the back of a label of wine and try and find the delicate spices and vanilla (or have fun trying) in every sip. I want you to rediscover every normal aspect of your life and give it centre stage for just a moment. If the normal bits of life can bring you more happiness, just imagine what the surprises and special moments will bring?
May today be an ordinary day that makes you feel extraordinary.