But today, as I walked into the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre for blood tests, registered at the front desk, received my itinerary for the morning, climbed the stairs to Clinic B, waited my turn for the Blood Collection Team to do what they do best, and then wandered through the corridors back down to the Medical Imaging Registration Office and on to the CT/MRI scanning area, it hit me. The feelings all came flooding back.
I tried to explain it to friends and colleagues curious about my medical appointments today. Vulnerability, recollections of pain, uncertainty, helplessness - mostly inchoate, but clearly enough to make me feel totally fragile. To make matters worse, memory was resonating with a completely rotten week physically - rectal bleeding, restless nights with one-hour intervals between trips to the washroom, difficulty walking, a constant discomfort down below. And then a phone call from a friend who simply wanted advice on helping another friend recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
On the other hand, there's nothing like helping someone else to get you out of a self-induced funk. It was good to offer advice and to share why someone with cancer might have a hard time reaching out for support, why sometimes you just want to be alone, and then a few moments later craving the company of someone who cares deeply for you.
Still, life conspired this week to remind me of so much that I've been trying to - pardon the irony - put behind me.
But even with the conspiracy, family members and colleagues reached out and made it obvious that they care. Those feelings were a welcome counterpoint.