Reflecting on what I have learnt along my way – 6 months in
The past 6 months have flown past and I’m nearing the final 6 miles of my chemo marathon. I would never have believed how quickly it would pass and when I look back to my apprehension before starting I wonder if there is something any of us can do to help others on their journey.
The thing about chemo is just like us it’s so unpredictable and individual. Even though you are given a list of side effects and yes, you may experience 8 out of 10 of them, the severity, your coping mechanisms and mindset are all different.As a newbie, stumbling across women’s taies of constant vomiting perhaps gave me a worse case scenario, you hoped this wouldn’t be you. Then other women working, running and carrying on as normal gave you role models and people to aspire to.
Truth be said chemo is in control of you when it takes over the steering wheel of your body, you become the passenger. What I’ve learnt is to go with it and not be afraid, as surely everything passes even unpleasant things. Every day has a night ….every summer a winter. So losing days with no appetite, feeling sick, aching, tired, they too pass and your energy floods back in. So agreeably it’s accumulative powers means by the final chemo it may take longer to bounce back as your powerhouse of batteries and cell production will have be caned. I’ve learnt to slow down and not push myself as hard, accept that my body has a few limitations -albeit temporary ones. I can plan achievable goals for recovery but be flexible in my expectations so not to disappoint or pressure myself.
I’ve learnt to be clear in my communications with others – this is no time for guess work or playing games, ok I may have always lent more towards blunt honesty …now I find if something upsets me say it, something makes me happy share it , something scares me -air it ! I’ve been reaping the benefits of blogging too, it’s a great way to hear out loud the words in your mind. I promise I haven’t hurt or injured any friends in this open communication channel – altho there have been friends that say they don’t always know what to say for what I might say.
Balance is majorly important too. You maybe living with cancer, but it’s a small part of you and there are many other aspects that require time, nourishment, acknowledgement. We wear many labels, I was determined Cancer wouldn’t be my defining one. See friends, try and maintain hobbies and pastimes, make new friends that can relate to this aspect of you to share things with but don’t exclude other friends and family when trying to protect them from your illness. Utilise your time to learn about yourself or learn things you want to do and never had the time if you aren’t working, if you are working pace yourself ! Laugh, love, life don’t limit yourself. Life will carry on so join in with everything that you can.
Face your fears and do it anyway. Cancer has changed us. No matter how much you think you want your old life pre diagnosis back, you will never have it. Sure you will have aspects of it maybe even 90% but you will have changed from the day your diagnosis was presented to you. The way you view life, priorities and ambitions …mortality. None of can say we won’t think, will it come back ? Unfortunately the nature of the beast (being human) is presenting yourself with that worrying fear especially if we feel a pain, a lump, a twinge or approach appointments and scans.
Become a butterfly and emerge from your chemo cocoon, flex your new wings and consider, now what ? What happens after this journey , as it’s not over when the treatment clock says stop. I’ve always been determined and focus, has having cancer changed that no, I’ve just learnt to accept a slower pace – for now. I’ve a long way to go and no doubt when I reflect on this blog like I do with my early ones I’ll have different feelings or think did I really think that ? Or maybe think – yup I nailed that.
In my earlier blogs when first diagnosed I was so worried of losing people I cared about, that they would disappear. I knew it was a marathon not a sprint and also likened it to a relay race, some people will start it with you, others will join you in the middle and there will be those that run to the finishing line with you. Be grateful for whatever and whoever participates, in all their ways, gestures and presence you are growing, learning and developing …as are they. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes only a season and others a lifetime. Embrace whatever someone brings, sometimes only after they have gone, do you see the clear purpose of their role. My expectations of people remain the same – don’t have expectations and you won’t be disappointed !
So, to draw a close to my ramble – I’ve learnt gratitude, appreciation, acceptance, love, friendship, understanding, empathy, selfishness – is it selfish to consider yourself first ? Nope. I’ve also learnt that written words can be more cutting and powerful than anything you can say, so write carefully.
Love, light and strength to everyone on their journeys. Be yourself , it’s your time to love you.