6:00pm. May 17th. I just woke up from a much needed 2.5 hour nap. I may take another one after I write this post – but I should probably eat something first so that I can take my meds.
How I’m feeling: Really weak. I’m not sure why. It could be many things – including my side effects accumulating or the fact that I cheated on my diet a little at brunch this morning. After I’ve cut out so much (dairy, gluten, processed sugars, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol) – whenever I have a little bit of a cheat meal – I definitely pay for it. Today was worse than ever before for some reason. Maybe it was that dot of bottled ketchup or hot sauce I had with my meal.
What’s happening to me? I’m becoming emotionally slutty.
Emotionally slutty – releasing how you’re feeling too much too soon. Ok, while I haven’t gone THAT far – I am finding that with this life changing experience of mine I am becoming much more honest about how I feel about myself, the things around me and the people in my life. I’m also communicating it more – with much less hesitancy. Life is way too short. I know…I know – we all preach that all the time but I’ve been experiencing it in a very real way.
Two months ago, my oncologist introduced himself to me, explained my treatment plan and then we started immediately. There was no waiting. Apparently, I didn’t have time to wait. In fact, I remember Dr. K saying just that “we don’t have time” when I inquired about getting my eggs frozen before chemo. I remember just staring at him after he said that – and then looking downwards to let out a bunch of tears. At the time, I was really really sad mostly about not being able to get my eggs frozen just incase – but it wasn’t until recently when I’ve processed why we moved so quickly.
Recently, I have drummed up the courage to speak to other lymphoma patients and I’ve come across cases where treatment had began a month after diagnosis. Not so much in my case. My airway was closing up very quickly due to the pressure of my mass in my chest. When I say that things happened quickly – I really mean it. While I could not get comfortable enough to sleep because I couldn’t breathe – I was also very scared to. I was scared that the last sight I’d see right before my eyes would close would be my last. I would dread the days going by as whenever daytime turned in to darkness, I grew scared of not waking up the next day.
Just like how I did not want my last sight in this world to be my hospital room, I don’t want my last moment here to be consumed with unfinished business, “should haves”, “what ifs”, “if only” thoughts – or any sort of resentment towards anything or anyone.
You know, there were people who reached out to me that I did not expect to hear from (including some I had secretly hoped to hear from) because perhaps they felt the same way. As soon as they found out what had happened to me – maybe they felt that they wanted to make peace with me and let me know how they had felt. Perhaps they felt like if there was even a small chance that I could leave this world or endure a REALLY rough chapter of my life – that they wanted me to go (or continue on living) with loving thoughts about us. They made a point to let me know that they were there for me no matter what. And as “out of no-where” or “awkward” some of the re-connections may have been – they found the strength to put all of that behind them and ambushed me at the hospital or did what they could to really demonstrate to me how they felt about me. Perhaps, it was their time to be at peace with themselves. I’m not 100% sure – but if you are one of these people, let me know! I’d love to hear from you what your thought process was like. These handful of folks inspired me to put any of my own ill-feelings or anger behind me as well and to develop a whole other level of compassion. It has been really touching. You likely know who you are – and I want to sincerely thank you for inspiring me.
On the flip side, there have also been people whom I didn’t hear from (or whom didn’t step up nearly as much as I had expected and hoped). Needless to say, there have been a lot of surprises and I am learning so much about myself and everyone around me …
I had always thought that I was a good communicator and a risky person. I mean, I left the secure corporate world to start my own business with no capital or plans; most of my projects have involved things that for the most part the (mass) rest of the world hasn’t quite accepted or has even fathomed (yet); I love adventures; (I thought) I wore my heart on my sleeve; I have an open mind when it comes to learning about things I know nothing about (yet) – but I’m realizing that the past me doesn’t measure up to who I am today.
And one reason is because I’m becoming more emotionally slutty these days. That part of me that holds me back – that “rational” part of me that talks me out of taking scary leaps that could expose me and show my vulnerable side – is taking much more of a back seat. Because quite frankly, I care much much less about the “should haves” and “what ifs”. The “I should have done ‘X’ – it would have done ‘Y'”s, the “What if he/she responds this way?”s, the “What if he/she thinks I’m thinking a certain way?”, the “What if he/she thinks I’m ‘X’ for saying this?”s.
I care much more about the “Right nows” If I’m feeling a certain way at this very moment I’m going to allow myself to feel it – and likely communicate it. While there is no real way for me to know if the other person(s) are communicating with as much vulnerability and honesty as I am – at least I know that I’m covered. I can make peace with myself.
That said, I do believe that there’s a fine balance to be practiced here. Don’t give it up for just anyone. I think that when you are being vulnerable and open with others, it really is a privilege on the receiving end. Every single time others really open up to me, I feel so honoured. The thoughts, emotions and status you have about and with others are earned and it takes really hard “work” and maintenance. You only have so much of your thoughts, emotions and commitment to give – so give it to those whom have earned a spot. Make space in your mind, soul and heart for those who have really man-ed and woman-ed up to fight for you.
In the very end, you really do owe it to yourself to be vulnerable.
P.S. WHO the hell am I?! As this all of this is happening all at once – some of these changes in me have been overwhelming. It’s as if this cancer was a catalyst for a crash course in a perspective shift and growing up.
P.P.S. I have my 4th round of chemotherapy on Monday. After a really long day at Princess Margaret Hospital on Friday May 16th, I found out via some blood work that my platelets are low – and that I have to get them up for Monday. Wish me luck!