Here I am again. nearly two years since my diagnosis and doing “fine”. There is an acronym for fine, Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional, well yes that just about sums me up nicely! Asking someone to just put cancer behind them, to file it away, is in my opinion, like asking someone with no teeth to chew on a bag of cashew nuts!
I am not “fine”, I am different. I look in the mirror and I look well, my face at least, sort of looks like the pre treatment me. That is where the distinction ends. I am not who I was. It is hard to come to terms with this fact as I have fought hard to get back to “normal”, only to discover that the normal I once new is gone forever. It is a shock to find out your brain is not as sharp as it was, chemo fog does not dissipate with the end of treatment, and I sometimes feel more like Homer Simpson than Tricia Urquhart. I have always been a “sorter”, if something is wrong I get in there to fix it. However, the poisons poured into my body to kill the cancer have damaged my body and messed with my mind. At lunch recently with a close friend, I was in the middle of recounting a story, and my mind went blank, I could not think of the words, or even what I was going to say, it was very, very frightening, I thought I was having a stroke! After another similar episode I was really worried, however, I have come to recognise it was a bloody awful, full blown panic attack. How the hell after all I have been through could I be having a panic attack now? But there you have it, that is what happened, it feels like I have revealed a dirty secret, I have anxiety. I felt my mind was now letting me down, just as my body had betrayed me by developing cancer.
The energies that one needs to get through cancer treatment, the adrenaline, the fight mode, they change after treatment ends. What arises is, quite naturally, fear of recurrence but also decreased energy levels, pains, G.I. upsets, not feeling like “me” anymore. Because of this, I have found/am finding, I need a whole new set of tools to survive. I am by nature and extremist, I go hell for leather at all my projects. No more. Moderation..yeuch how I dislike that word, with its connotations of sensible and steady..but yes moderation is now necessary for my survival. Physically my body will no longer be pushed just because “I want”. It retaliates, first with gentle physical reminders, and if I ignore these with full blown physical and mental symptoms. Perhaps for too long I have ignored what my body was telling me.
It really is not surprising that my brain is in a bit of a melt down. It is well recognised that the time after treatment can be very stressful as people come to terms with their experience, and live their lives with their altered body image and adapt to a new outlook on life and always at the back of ones mind, the fear of recurrence.
Although this all sounds very negative, and certainly the last few months have been an eye opener to me, I have found as always, strength and support from my family and friends. Joe, although a bit bemused by this turn of events, perhaps more clearly than me, views it as part of the healing process. I have returned to my meditation practice which is helping me to relax and accept how I am feeling. This makes me stronger, and as a result happier. So the …I was going to say battle..but that is not what it feels like….the journey continues, the new learning experience about my strengths and my limitations unfolds. I look forward to the journey.
Today I am attending my hospital appointment with the oncologist Ms.B eeeek!!!, I am F.I.N.E…..no really I am good, deep breathes and relax!