11 days to surgery, feeling largely unprepared. Hoping that I’ll have pre op assessment this week. I can’t believe how quickly it’s coming now – still lots to do.
It’s been an interesting week, I went to a Death Cafe earlier this week. In brief they are a sociable event where people go to share their thoughts and feelings about death and dying. To reduce the stigma and normalise the topic. Friendly mixed bunch of people I’ll definitely attend another one. No one on my table apart from one had experienced cancer, so they were mystified by my experience and perhaps it helped them and may to share feelings.
I rationalised that when you are diagnosed with cancer or any other potentially life limiting illness, your first thoughts are death, and fear of living everyone precious behind you. Then you find the anger or motivation and think nope, that’s out of the question I’m going no where. You plough through treatment and if fortunate reach the other end and pick up the precious NED, No Evidence of Disease. I think you are initially filled with euphoria after months of treatment and new found energy after months of fatigue. I travelled, tried new things and rediscovered myself in my new physical form. A year of non stop activities to make up for what you may have missed, and an urgency to do so.
Perhaps in the second year post diagnosis you wobble, like the cancer treatment and reality catches up with you and you have to get worries of recurrence in check, as every ache and pain can lead back to the GP surgery. I think that’s because you are told that the likelihood of recurrence is higher within the first 2 years. Personally for me too, mum died within 2 years of initial diagnosis. Cancer still is in the forefront of your mind, and you experience heightened sensitivity to cancer related deaths – especially to those within your immediate peer group.
Year three and life settles a bit more, the old habits you promised wouldn’t reappear do, good and bad. Complacency eeks back in as living with urgency is ultimately unsustainable. If you do accept every invite and do everything in fear you will miss out you are a) broke b) tired ….lol….I’ve experienced both.
I’m approaching the 4th year cancerversary in May. Unthinkable. I think cancer has a place in my mind far further from my first thoughts. I do think it still has influences however, some good and some bad
Some great things post diagnosis
- Keeping it real – aaaaiite . Trying to live as authentically a life as possible, saying what I feel, meaning what I say. Quitting the things I don’t enjoy….blah, blah, blah. Except this isn’t always easy, and not black and white. Things like relationships don’t fit into a box, they spread and bulge over.
- Precious time – not the same as the sense of urgency, and anyway maybe I was always impatient. I still have this desire not to waste time. This is a good thing as it does mean I will say no to things I know I won’t enjoy or are a waste of my time.
- Taking Risks – trying new things, visiting new places, being out of your comfort zone ….yes and no. The old complacency can slow this down, and occasionally you have to remind yourself that nothing is permanent. Live a little, actually live a lot – if you can.
- Making time for the people and things that matter – self explanatory. How could you not ?
- Return to normality – a blur between the new normal and the old normal eventually balances out. The old me might think this and do this, the new me might do exactly the same !! Or not…
Some difficult things I find
- Making future plans – It definitely took me a few years to relax about planning ahead or even making a financial commitment for 5 years. Silly perhaps but uncertainty is powerful. I’m superstitious too, so perhaps planning too far ahead was always tricky for me.
- Sense of urgency – Doing too much, too soon, feeling you are missing out if you aren’t out there. Leads to periods of fatigue, even now I can over do it and pay for it.
- Pressure on yourself to achieve – sometimes you forget what you’ve been through and can be ridiculously hard on yourself.
- Those pesky old habits reappear – why would being treated for cancer cure any bad habits ?
- Assuming you have a reduced life expectancy or you have precious little time before those asbo cancer cells could return – this takes a while to get in check.
- Comparison – to others, to the past you, to what you think you should be doing or should have. Sure everyone must do this…