Hmmmm, I wondered. How should I spend my 4th anniversary of being free and clear of cancer? What would someone do if this was the best day of their lives?
I decided that donuts for breakfast would be the thing to do so I went to my favourite bakery in my old hometown, on my way to hurl myself off a canyon cliff.
In the end, the slice of apple pie caught my eye because of the fat hunks of apple in it. It was delicious! While I was there someone I knew quite well came in. When he found out where I was going and what day it was he said, "So you've beaten cancer and now you're going to do what?"
I grabbed my youngest son to be my reluctant videographer and then my parents decided they were coming too and hopped in my car. As we arrived they were all arguing about bringing the dog or something... I wasn't really paying attention because I just wanted to absorb the sheer glory of the day.
I arrived to a giant staircase the went straight up into the sky.
When I got to the top my son and father were already up there, my son feeling unphotogenic for once and a little peaved because he wasn't getting to jump too.
A gentleman was ahead of me and when it was asked why he was jumping he said it was for his 65th birthday. I would have high-fived him but he wasted no time at the top before he jumped.
Next thing you know I was getting my feet strapped in and was getting asked if I wanted to dip into the water. There was no anxiety at that point about jumping. Just excitement.
But then as I shuffled my feet to get to the edge I felt the heavy cord tugging slightly at my feet and a rush of fear hit me. I spent a lot of my life at rivers cliff jumping but this was different.
I stood at the top holding the bars at the sides of me. My body began to have an anxiety attack and the blood began rushing through my body as my hands gripped those bars. I hadn't felt fear like that since I was in the hospital having received my 6 days of total chemo and my one day of rest.
I knew I would die if I refused my transplant, left the hospital or if some crazy problem came up with my donor... like him running for the hills. These were all unlikely scenarios but ones I couldn't seem to get out of my mind. I had brought nothing with me to the hospital but my running shoes... just in case I made a break for it. I had given my trust to the doctors, my donor, the people caring for my children and everyone else my life now depended on. The bag of new stem cells they were about to give me was about to change me forever. I would never be the same and never be able to go back.
Before my family arrived I went into the washroom that was in my private hospital room. That was the only place I was allowed to go and I stood there in sheer and utter fear. I shook, I cried, I was comforted by a friend and my nurse. The nurse spoke to me and talked me through my fears. Yes, it was life changing, yes it's a difficult day to deal with, yes I had every right to be afraid.
I don't know how long I stayed in there but it felt like most of the day. I eventually composed myself and came out ready to take the leap.
And now here I was atop a canyon with a bungee cord strapped around my ankles and could feel the weight of it pulling me down.
I knew it was safe, I knew everything would be fine which is something I did not have with my stem cell transplant but I had to wrestle with myself. I had put my trust into these strangers that strapped me in and would control my fall. I had to trust.
In those moments, the bungee guy by my side talked to me. He told me it was safe, he told me he's jumped 45 times, he talked me through my panic. I took deep breathes and told my self aloud repeatedly, "I can do this, I can do this, I CAN do this". I overcame my overwhelming will to run. I felt more ready but my left hand would not let go of the bar. The bungee guy offered to hold my arms up for me but I refused because I wanted to be the one in control. He kept talking until he was saying, "You beat cancer, this is nothing, you CAN do this!"
And I jumped.
As I hurdled face first towards the Earth thought I might spontaneously die. Not from the fall but from my inability to cope.
Then I stretched my hands above my head and broke the surface of the water. The gentle force from the bungee cords hurled me back up into the air and down again. As I flew, I knew I had done it. I had conquered.
Climbing the staircase all the way back up was another matter.
As I drove home back through the mountains I drove past this car in the valley lot. It was as if we instantaneously knew each other. I'm pretty sure whatever that is, it's my car.
Back in Victoria I went to Willows beach to get some onion rings because I love them. I sat eating them on a bench, admiring the view and watching the beach revelers. I caught this photo with a bird flying past. I felt so content.
I then went to a close friend's house and stayed for a while.
As I headed home I went down to the ocean to watch the sun set. The colours of the sky were so extraordinary that a passerby commented that he lives here but had never seen such colours.
It was a perfect day in a not so perfect life.