“Every time that I look in the mirror, all these lines on my face gettin' clearer, the past is gone - It went by like dusk to dawn, Isn't that the way - Everybody's got their dues in life to pay. Well I know, nobody knows, where it comes and where it goes…I know it's everybody's sin you got to lose to know how to win. Half my life's in book's written pages. Live and learn from fools and from sages…you know it's true. All the things you do, come back to you."
-Aerosmith “Dream On”
It only took me nine blogs to use an Aerosmith song, and if you know me personally, you’ll know that took some restraint. I knew, however, when I did pick one it would be my favorite, Dream On. For me, this song is the musical equivalent of a warm bath - calming, soothing, and comforting. Ironically, I’m not much of a dreamer, I am a hard-core realist. If it’s not concrete and right in front of me I don’t indulge myself with fantasies; which is probably why I don’t often dream, but when I do dream they tend to be extremely detailed and occasionally prophetic. The dreams I’m about to detail in this blog are a couple of doozies!
About six months before my first cancer diagnosis in 2007 I had a really, truly bizarre dream about my dad, who passed away shortly before my eighth birthday. As I said, I rarely dream - so a dream about my dad really stuck with me. I recounted it to a few girlfriends afterwards trying to decipher the meaning. In the dream I’m in the ocean floating on one of those bright yellow inflatable round tubes. Surrounding me are sharks. Lots of sharks, but they aren’t attacking me. They are just circling me as I float in my tube. My dad is a lifeguard on the beach. He’s just watching me and seems calm. My boys and my husband are on the beach yelling at me, screaming that there are sharks in the water. I’m waving to them and calling out, as I float further away, that, “I’m fine, don’t worry about me. See they are letting me pet them.” And to prove my point, I reach over and stroke a shark on the back as they continue to circle me. And they don’t bother me. They just keep swimming and I keep floating. I felt safe and was a little confused as to why my dad was a lifeguard. Then I woke up.
Now, I am sure if a professional were to psychoanalyze this he or she would have a field day interpreting it. I thought about the dream continually for several weeks, trying to figure it out and then eventually I forgot about it; until I was diagnosed with breast cancer on a warm Monday evening in May. As I went to bed that night - after probably the most difficult and frightening day of my life - I thought about that dream, and I immediately figured out what it meant. I was going to be in danger. My family was going to be worried. I was going to face my fears and my dad was going to watch over me. Pretty deep for a fashionista, huh?
Five years later on a hot July night in 2012 I woke up screaming. Screaming so loud I woke up my husband, my kids and my dog. I was in a cold sweat and I was shaking. The dream I had? My doctor telling me that I had cancer, again. My husband calmed me down, said it was just a dream; my subconscious fears intruding into my sleeping brain. But I kept saying to him – over and over, “I can’t do it again, I just can’t go through it again.” I had just been checked in May and there were no suspicious findings. My scans and blood work were all good and I certainly felt fine, but boy did that dream bother me. It took me weeks to forget about it…
…until the end of September, when my next set of scans were scheduled for. Then it came rushing back to me. I was extremely nervous on the day of my MRI. Four days later I got the phone call about a suspicious lesion…and four days after that I went for a needle biopsy…and it was four days after that when indeed I heard the words I had dreamt just a few months earlier…I FREAKED OUT. Then I calmed down. I remembered my dream and although at the time I didn’t think I had it in me to go through treatment again…I knew deep down I would fight even harder this time around. I thought long and hard about the fact that these two incredibly vivid dreams came to me at times that I was unaware there was cancer growing in my body. Both times my doctors found it before it spread to my lymph nodes. Talk about a wake-up call.
So each night, as I go to sleep I hope to just blissfully and peacefully drift off until the alarm goes off. If I have to “dream on” I’d rather it be of winning Powerball numbers.