The highs & lows in recovery & my thanks to Jessie J

It’s been a mixed bag this week, not just in my life but in the greater world too, of course ! On my own planet there has been frequent atmospheric changes and days vary so greatly it has you spinning at times. So this is recovery…a place we are so desperate to get to, and yet once here the teetering, tottering of redefining confidence and bi polar moods have you bouncing all over the place.

Today is a great day and in this more balanced and reflective mood I needed to explore my feelings, moods and behaviours. I am euphoric to be here, to be finished active treatment and to be taking steps forward into the unknown, sure, but isn’t life always unpredictable ? It certain is.

I’m believing that CBT is working for me, giving me the understanding, logic and strategies to make sense of how I feel and permission to feel the way I do. Helping me to rebuild my strength and confidence, that cancer and the treatments chipped away at. It’s really true when ‘they’ say it’s after the event you begin to make sense, feel and at times collapse over what has happened. During treatment your mind is fixed on getting through it, getting to the next treatment, having least side effects as possible and enjoying the good days in the bad. That strategy worked well for me. It wasn’t that I never contemplated my diagnosis or prognosis, I often did but I had a goal, get through surgery and be fit enough for chemo, graduate from chemo and lastly get through daily rads. It’s not so much others that underplay what you’ve been through, some do, but yourself, well I did. It’s like mehhh it happened, it happens to others too, there are braver people than me. Yet now when someone retells to you what has happened tears emerge and a tightness constricts your throat, a disbelief, how on earth have I gone through all that and am still standing ?? And perhaps that’s why I feel euphoric, I am starting to really love me, how amazing am I that I did get through these treatments, mostly smiling and joking. Suddenly I’m proud of myself for of course I was afraid, afraid this bastard disease would rob my children of their mother. I knew I would fight it tooth and nail and I knew I had to find a real acceptance that life, my life and my children’s life had irreversibly changed.

I was afraid of what the treatments would do, that I’d be too ill to care for my children and I remember distinctively crying one night when I remembered my mum’s own journey with the frequent overnight admissions due to bloods dropping and infections ravaging her. I was afraid my children would face this. 

Half way through chemotherapy, when I swapped to the notorious Tax (Docetaxal) sure I was afraid of what it would do to my changing body but, I hoped more than anything it would obliterate the cancerous invaders in my body. I woke up one day with this incredible surge of I’ve got this, it’s not my time, this is working, really working and I’ve time. I was scared of this confidence, scared that I had dared to believe it, not just that I could but would beat this invasion and almost didn’t dare say it out loud or share with anyone. Superstitious me ? Of course, I grew up with a grandmother throwing salt over shoulders and greeting Magpies. My sentences interrupted with touch wood or fingers crossed. 

Finishing treatment I didn’t want to prematurely celebrate in fear I hadn’t anything to really punch the air for. Then it came to me , celebrate the now, the fact that you did get through the treatment. Maybe I can’t raise an all clear flag , many people can’t and I think the general public who are undiagnosed struggle with the idea that you can be diagnosed with cancer one year, get poisoned, cut and burnt and not be able to say, well that was successful. That’s information I don’t have, but I believe it worked, I believe that I am well and getting stronger and healthier everyday. 

You’ve gotta have HOPE in your SOUL…according to the gospel of Take That and I have that faith renewed. 

I’ve been reading a lot lately and investing in me. Realising that the former me did a lot of giving to others, but didn’t give much to myself. It’s still a bit uncomfortable saying no to others and propping up new boundaries but it’s worth it. Life is busy and my life was 85% for everyone else and now it’s reclaimed that time. It’s not selfish or self centred, far from it. If I don’t love and care for me, no one will and that is where I was this time last year. Sure I was happy being busy, but I barely sat still to eat, every minute of my day was responding to someone else’s need(s).

I’ve read that suppressing emotions or living a life where you aren’t honest to yourself have a detrimental affect on your health and well- being, I’m not and they weren’t suggesting that was carcinogenic but there is something there to stop and make me think. On reading someone felt there was a void in their life and that a cancer grew to fill that made me stop and think. I’ve struggle on through pain and emotional distress for a long time, putting a brave public face on and crumbling privately, did this contribute to my ill health ? Self destruction ?

Reading this made me really think, I’ve been given this second chance to make a difference. I can’t return to former poor habits and beliefs, I need to live authentically and be true to myself, as my dear friend Ham says, get it out, wear it on your sleeve, if someone asks and you feel bad, say you do…forget the pretence. Even if they can’t correctly respond you’ve put it out there, you’ve rid yourself of the negative choke weeds. He makes a lot of sense does my homie Ham. There’s a lot to be said about soldiering on and I’m not losing that part of me, nor the mind over matter, if I say it I can erase it feeling, but sometimes you need to kick out the crap and carry on. 

So this is my new commitment to myself, share how I feel. Leave the past where it belongs, forgive myself and love myself. Really love myself. I mean really, really, love and nurture myself.

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I am incredibly proud of myself for how I’ve coped and survived this extremely tough part of my life and so proud of my children for growing and coping so well. I am proud of us. No more worrying what other people think or their judgement. 

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