11:30am. May 1st 2014. I’m trying to eat something so that I can take my meds. I have 10 almonds I’m trying to get down.
How I’m feeling: Not so good. My nausea was bad early this morning and I’ve been feeling really weak all week from this 3rd chemo session.
Shortly after I was diagnosed on March 18th, I quickly realized that the toughest parts about all of this are the mental, emotional and physical side effects – not so much the cancer itself – but it’s all the stuff that comes along with it. Those are the most painful and challenging – and which are requiring every ounce of strength and fight I have in me. That and all the itty bitty but significant moving parts around me as a result of this cancer – the shift in my relationships, understanding who in my life has chosen to play certain roles in this chapter of mine, further understanding what I’m capable of and just being at the centre of what feels like one big constant water ripple of interesting affects and developments.
Trying to process,
manage, observe and understand all of it really is a like a full-time job. Every single day, I learn something new and something or someone is revealed.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Any uphill battles that I’ve experienced (and have gotten through) in the past – are nothing compared to this one. And I kind of love it because I know that when I make it through all of this, I’m going to be capable of much more than I ever was.
While I’m no expert (and I never want to be – at anything really. Expert means “the end of learning” to me) I’ve discovered some helpful things and have set some rules that have been helping me come a long way. These are just a few of the tips that pertain to the emotional and mental state of mind (physical, I may share some later). These aint easy but they are simple in principle and have helped me out tremendously especially over the past few months:
Give yourself permission to feel
Going through emotions and expressing them are great things. In fact, they are indications of strength. It’s a strong trait in leadership, mental stability, emotional intelligence, relationship management, social skills – and well, the list goes on and on and on. In my opinion, swallowing your emotions and thoughts and not expressing them are weak traits. Do not bite that lip. If you feel something, let it happen – and COMMUNICATE. I can’t stress that one enough. Can you tell?
If you need to write it all out, do it. I hit publish on one of my many thought and learning flows here.
Do not have 2 consecutive days of wallowing
This cancer is $#&!. It’s not fair. It does not discriminate. It’s painful. It’s flipped my life upside down. It F#$!ing sucks. I have my “why me” moments often. Oh, trust me. I do. It’s tough not to. I’ve found myself hidden under blankets for hours and only getting up to go to the washroom or to take my meds. I’m allowing myself to have these moments (Ahem. Tip #1) – but I’m not letting them happen one right after another. Give yourself a breather. As tough as it has been at times, I won’t let myself have 2 consecutive days of wallowing.
Acknowledge past and future thoughts – but focus on present. It may sound a little la-la-land-like to you but trust me, it works. Meditation has helped me out tremendously. One day, I may share with you how meditation got me through some real excruciatingly painful situations in the hospital. I’m not great at it – and really, it’s not something people really “perfect” and I have found that I’m much more successful in guided meditation classes – but for now I’ve turned to Headspace when I’m not well enough to make it in to a class.
The very first time I felt meditation was doing something for me was 16 days before I was diagnosed with the big “C”. Read about it here.
Does it inspire you or tire you?
I’m focusing 200% on me right now. It’s the Carolyn show. To let in and encourage what’s good for me and ignore and kick out what’s poisonous for me, I put it through the “Does it inspire me OR does it tire me?” test. This is a tip I borrowed from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips (Read it if you are fighting cancer or know of someone who is. I mean it. It’s good!)
People, places, things. If it, he, she tires you – screw it. If it inspires you, move towards it, him, her. If someone makes you feel like crap, like your life is ending or says something idiotic like “My mom died of cancer. Good luck” or “I know how you feel, I was in the hospital because I had a cyst” walk the other way. Seriously, who are these people and how socially awkward and emotionally unintelligent can they get? Unfortunately, they do exist. Trust me. Respond to the type of support that is working for you at that very moment, show it and be grateful for it. It’s important to be compassionate and respond to true compassion.
DO NOT let people knock you down for how much of a fighter you are
Been there. Done that. I’ve been knocked for my relentless fight tonnes of times. And no matter how many times I have, I’ve truly never stopped loving myself for it. If you know me well, you probably know of some of these stories. Just remember this: People are damn lucky to be acquainted with those who have as much fight as you have and/or will need to get through this. When someone fights that hard for them – the judgement and criticism magically goes away. Funny how that works, eh?
You may feel a little – cloudy – and that’s ok
I’ve been having trouble describing how I’m feeling up there trying to my friends and family. I think I’ve told people that my brain feels slightly “cloudy” or “fuzzy” lately. Recently, I found out that it’s a thing some cancer patients experience and at different rates. It’s known as “Chemo-brain” Learn about it here. There are many things about cancer treatment that cause it, there are things that can prevent it and there are things that can be done to recover from it. I’m still learning about this one.
Know that things happen for a reason
It’s already been amazing to see and be part of what happens when you allow things to fall in to place.
Invest in happy
While you may not be physically, mentally and emotionally all there – invest in the little things that you can still enjoy (that don’t compromise your health/treatment program) that make you happy. Whether it’s breakfast on your balcony every morning, freshly squeezed orange juice, playing video games, making board games – whatever it may be. Just do it. Nobody (that matters and whom deserves to have you in their lives in a meaningful way) is judging.
P.S. I finished this post after spending 3 hours on a Skype call with a good friend. My mood is completely uplifted 🙂 And on that note, this: