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Experiencing cancer on the other side of the fence.

10:00pm Tuesday August 25th 2015

How I’m feeling: Mixed. I’m feeling defeated, angry, frustrated – and extremely lucky. 

I haven’t been given the “you are cancer-free” clearing, but I am in a situation where I can do much more than I was able to do a year ago, 6 months ago – even a month ago. Physically, mentally and emotionally – I have entered a new stage! I get asked all the time “Carolyn, are you feeling normal? Are you back to normal? You seem like it” And well, am I back to “normal”? It depends on what “normal” is. I don’t even know what that means. If “normal” is how I was pre-diagnosis, then no. I’m not “back to normal”. Nor would I want to be! This was likely T-H-E biggest life altering event I will ever experience in my life. There is just no way I’d want to rip this hefty chapter out of the book of Carolyn. Like I treat everything, I stared this dead straight in the eye, confronted it and worked through it. I didn’t get to where I am today by ducking, taking the easy and safe route and following rules/the status quo. I got to where I am by being me. This is it. All me. And so I’m going to get to where I am meant to be by being me. I have fallen hard but most importantly I have learned a whole lot – to say the least.

Now, this doesn’t mean that it was anything close to easy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t understand why a journey like this results in the death of one’s soul and spirit. In fact, I completely understand why this takes people down. I get why people spin in to a downward spiral. It is very easy to! Because the Big C is one serious mega strong force.

….but here’s the thing: I’m stronger.

Over the past year and a bit, I have learned what strength really is. I have learned that what most of us have been taught about it is so incredibly off. I have learned just how mentally and emotionally strong (which surpasses physical strength) I am. I have learned just how strong we can be. And we includes you. Yes, you. Even you.

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My “I am Carolyn (on one side of the pendant). Hear me roar” necklace that I cherish so much that was sent to me from Fierce Deer. Give them some love, please: http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FierceDeer

I’m going to stop you here before you even dare start to think of cancer as a “gift”. It’s not a “blessing”. I would never ever want to re-gift it and give it to you and I would never want to “bless” anyone with it. Cancer is NOT – I repeat NOT a gift. But I suppose I have chosen to approach this in a certain way. But truthfully, it wasn’t much of a choice – because this is the only way I know how to work through things. I became so drained after trying so hard to figure out how I was going to cope and deal with this – and once I began to rest from it all, I defaulted to just being me. I had to re-learn to trust myself and my process in life. They say that experiences like this emphasize ones true self and that it almost expedites the process of one understanding their purpose. I believe it.

While, getting diagnosed and fighting to beat cancer is no fun – I can write an endless list of how much happy I’ve experienced over the year. For every S&@$ thing that I’ve been through, I could think of at least 10 awesome things. Some days, it was really difficult to. Like, the day when you can just feel it in the air and from your medical team that nobody knows if you’re going to wake up the next day. Like when you can’t be put on certain medication to numb or ease the pain during procedures because you run the risk of not coming out of the slumber. Like when you have to sign on the dotted line that what you’re about to fore-go, could cause organ failure, infertility and death. Like when you are too weak and in pain to walk more than a few steps. Like when you need help from others to do things like bathe, brush your teeth and change. Like when you feel like you are losing what you have worked so incredibly hard to develop all your life – your brain, your mind, your ability to react, your intellect – because you are so heavily medicated and in trauma. Like when you so desperately want to feel anything. You’d even take hate and anger – but instead feel nothing. Numb.

But – I did get there. I eventually got there. Eventually. 10+ awesome things. And so, now I know that I can always get there.

The past couple of weeks have been interesting. I have been experiencing something new – or at least something that feels new. For the first time, I am getting what it’s like on the other side of the fence: having someone I know go through their battle with cancer after having gone through my experience. The big difference now is that I know first hand how they are feeling. Well, a little bit at least because what I have learned is that no two cases and journeys are the same. It’s been tough to know that someone else you know is going through the rollercoaster of living with and fighting cancer. You’d think that I would know exactly what to say and do by now – but I don’t. It’s still tough as ever to be a support role – even though I have and am going through what I’m going through. These two friends of mine started off as acquaintances and business colleagues – and now, I feel a much closer connection with them. They had both made me aware that they were also diagnosed with cancer – and since then they periodically ask me for tips and advice. Both have not been close to public/open as I have been with all of this – and so I am very grateful that they had come to me for comfort, support – whatever it is they are coming to me for. It hasn’t been easy. Really, it isn’t. They are not doing so well – and admittedly, I feel defeated. I feel anger. I feel frustration. I feel protective. I feel defensive. I feel like a Mama Bear. I feel like I want to punch something with every ounce of strength I have in me. I want it to get messy and ugly. I want to just reach in to them and pull that motherf$%&ing cancerous tumour out. To these two people, the cancer is being so ruthless, stubborn and strong and one case is currently much much more worse than the other.

F#$@ you, cancer. You are SUCH an a$$hole.

This has also reminded me of just how lucky I am to be here. Sure – I’m not off the hook just yet. I still have cancer (<- Whoa. That is still weird to type) – but I’m living. I’m here. Breathing and loving. We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow – or the next day – or the next. None of us do. But I am so incredibly grateful to be here. Right here. Right now. And you should too. We are all dying a little bit every day. And so, while we’re dying – we might as well just live. And live for you and nobody else. It’s the advice I’m giving to my two friends. It’s the advice I’m giving to you. It’s the advice I give to myself. Now, go walk the talk. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Do everything with love – not fear. Tuck away that ego. Treat every day as if you may leave this world tomorrow. Really – just do.

With endless gratitude and love,
Me

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