THE NEW NORMAL (Happy Week, Happy Life)

THE NEW NORMAL (Happy Week, Happy Life)

Coffee.

I got a whiff of it as I walked through the front doors of the LUTH Cancer Centre. I glanced to my left and noticed there was a table set up by the door with an attendant offering free coffee and other hot beverages to anyone.

Well, that’s new, I thought to myself as I took a seat in the waiting area.

I love coffee, but it was so far from my mind at the moment, because of how anxious I was feeling.

“Modd, Dr. Joseph will see you now.”

I stood up and walked calmly to the door of my oncologist’s office. I took a deep breath before turning the door handle and walking in. It was my medical review that day, and it usually comes up three months after completing active treatment. It is to check whether the treatment was effective and to ensure that there are no other flare-ups anywhere else. Lately, I’d been having this sudden sharp pain at the surgery site and it scared me to think that the cancer was back. Also, I am in a WhatsApp group that my surgeons created to keep a close eye on all patients. One of the ladies, young, about my age, wrote on the group that at her last review, her oncologist noticed a small swelling in her neck and sent her back for more rounds of chemo. I was nervous and had been that way for a couple of days as the date of my appointment approached.

In my hand were the results of all the tests and scans I had carried out and I handed them over as I took my seat opposite her. I smiled calmly as we exchanged pleasantries; the only tell-tale sign of how anxious I was feeling was the heel of my right foot bouncing up and down uncontrollably under the table.

Please just get on with it and put me out of my misery.

I studied her face as she read through the reports from my scans. She was not smiling, and dread slowly crept in. S

Then she looked up at me and smiled. “Your tests are clear.”

That was music to my ears. My dread started to recede.

“Please take a sit on the bed and let me do a physical examination of your chest, neck and surrounding areas.”

The dread came back.

Physical examination done, she began to write in my file. I stretched my neck to read what she was writing. I saw “IN REMISSION” and I started grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly my confidence was back and I started “raising shoulder”. My fears fell away. I could literally feel myself blooming and seeing a more solid future ahead. It was such an emotional rollercoaster that I was happy to off of. I felt like I had been given another lease on life. Sadly, this lease would expire in another couple of months from the days leading up to my next review. It was only fitting that I enjoy it while it lasts.

***

“Ohayōgozaimasu…” I say into my phone. (Good morning)

“Ohayōgozaimasu, Modd-san. Jikan wa 8:12…” (Good morning, Modd. The time is 8:12 am)

My Google Assistant has such a great voice. She went on to tell me the weather in Japanese before playing the news from English outlets. I smiled contently as I closed my eyes and listened to the news.

It is such a great feeling to see results from your efforts. Since I couldn’t exactly travel to Japan just yet but still need immersive language practice, I set my Google Assistant language to Japanese. It was always a treat to find that I could understand most of what she was saying. As a passion project, it was doing what I’d hoped it would do. And that is being a good dose of dopamine that carries me through the other potentially frustrating things I have set out to achieve.

Although, to be honest, these past two weeks had not been as frustrating as I thought. The things that have happened had taught me some valuable lessons. I delivered my first graphic design job two weeks ago. I wasn’t paid up to five thousand naira sef, but it was good practice for me. Lesson I learnt from the way the job came is: “Don’t keep quiet.”

When people asked me what my next steps are, I told them about my new endeavours and the steps I was taking to see them through. This job came from my cousin who wanted help with a flyer design for his new business venture, because I had told him about my work. Asides that, people that know what I am up to had sent me links to resources that have proved useful to me.

Another lesson I learnt is: “There’s no tutorial you can’t find on YouTube.” And more so, nothing you can’t find on Google.

Google had been not just my friend but my lover in these past couple of months. When I finished my course, I decided that to get better at design, I had to work on actual designs. My plan was to replicate great designs that I liked, and YouTube had been a gold mine with tutorials for all sorts. It was Google that also helped me to look professional and knowledgeable when I got my second job last week for a logo design for a friend’s business.

As I approached each job, “Fake it till you make it” became the order of the day. I saw an interesting take on this adage by Graphic Designer, Chris Do. He says, “Believe it till you achieve it.” Because I find that although I am confident in my ability as a creative person, I have yet to master the tools I need to produce the desired tangible end product. From what I have read, it is that belief and confidence in your ability to deliver that clients want to see most times.

For anyone who wants to know if this act of journaling has helped, I can confidently say that it has helped a whole lot. It helps me articulate my thought processes, and laying it out in written words help me work through feelings and concepts that would otherwise have just stayed swirling around in my head. As I have hoped, the fact that it is open to public reading has helped me stay accountable and question the excuses that I would otherwise have coddled myself with, if it was just me on this journey.

So, to everyone who has joined me on this series: “Arigatōgozaimashita.” (Thank you)

Written by Modd

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  1. Mandy
    October 05, 18:52 Reply

    I honestly do not know how anyone can go on if they finish going through the stress of chemo, only to find that it didn’t work. I mean, I know you’re no cancer expert, Modd, but is that something that happens? Cancer not going into remission after chemo?

    • Modd
      October 05, 21:57 Reply

      Sadly, it happens too often. Sometimes if the cancer is advanced in stage, chemo might not work. There’s two people in that WhatsApp group that have had to do chemo again. Another one, a friend I met during chemo at the tail end of her treatment had complications and died 2 months after completing chemo.
      Thing is, I saw her after her chemo. her hair had started growing back and she was bubbly and thankful that she had finished the horrible chemo. She said she was having headaches so I offered to bring my bottle of CBD oil for her. I brought the CBD oil some days after but didn’t see her. Her sister sent a message in the group that she died two days after I saw her.

  2. Olutayo
    October 05, 22:06 Reply

    Reading this episode really gave me joy. Most of the other episodes were suffused with some despair here, some hopelessness there, some pain there.

    But this… There was hope and joy and promise in this episode. Hopefully, that is how you’ve been tackling life since your remission: with hope and joy and promise.

  3. Dunder
    October 07, 01:48 Reply

    Thank you for sharing with us. This piece was laced with hope and we all need more of it in this new normal. I’ll take the lessons. Let me start louding it for those that can help my life. Hang in there, Modd!

  4. Black Dynasty
    October 07, 13:11 Reply

    I was really happy to see hope plastered all over this. Thanks for letting us in once again and wishing you good health.

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