I’m sitting here in the chemo chair as the drugs drip into my body… Questioning life… Questioning my beliefs… Questioning it all.
Life is real confusing these days. Each day brings new questions, fresh insights, and a tumble of emotions. I spend my days perpetually on the verge of tears. I feel hyper sensitive to people’s moods. I’m simultaneously trying to heal the past, envision the future, and remain in the present. I know I’m overthinking things and yet I can’t stop. I know what I need to do and yet it is so hard to just do it. I’ve been sliding down into the rabbit hole. It’s all starting to take a toll on me… The chemo. The surgery. The pain. The exhaustion. The frustration. The emotions. The chemo brain. Aaaahhhh!!!!
We did another ultrasound today to check my arm once again for blood clots. It keeps swelling to ridiculous proportions and no body can tell me for sure what’s causing it. Turns out the veins and blood flow are fine. No clots. No edema in the tissue surrounding the veins. So that’s good. My oncologist figures the swelling is because of the tumors clogging up the lymph system and preventing it from doing what it needs to do. A lymphadema of sorts. So we’ll consider a sleeve for my arm (sexy!) and some physical therapy. But the hope is that the chemo will knock those tumors down and free my lymph system to start functioning properly again and that will heal the swelling.
But all this swelling, and pain, and chemo exhaustion ends up taking me to the bad place where I turn to food as a quick fix (which would be ok if it was celery and lettuce, but it’s not) – Trying to find a temporary release from it all. Food has always been my #1 drug of choice. Plus, I haven’t exercised in 2 weeks. And I’m not always taking my supplements as I should be.
On this day before Thanksgiving I’m really trying to hold onto the moments of gratitude. Trying to remember all that I have to be thankful for (and lord do I know I have a lot to be thankful for!!) But I’m just tired – mentally, physically, emotionally. My body is not happy. My body is not well. And it’s hard to move past it.
But all is not lost… I refuse to go down without a fight.
Even though I was tired I went to my Bernie Siegel support group last night. I needed it. And on the way home I had time to reflect. To take in the wisdom of my fellow group members. To absorb the uplifting support. And ponder what I’m doing with my life. As Bernie says, “It’s not about avoiding death. It’s about living life!”
I figure maybe I need to go through all this turmoil, to get lost down the rabbit hole, and come to this bad place in order to tear myself apart so I can then completely rebuild and redefine who I am. I realize that the last 5 years I’ve been so focused on everyone else that I lost sight of who I was. I didn’t make my needs, my career, my dreams a priority. And still didn’t even after I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Now this second round of cancer is trying to shake me awake. Forcing me to truly question who I am and what I want from life. And I can’t go back to the person I was before. Before cancer. Before my mom died. Before I got married. Before I had Miss M. What was right for me then is certainly not right anymore. I am different now. Older. Wiser. I’ve seen more, done more, faced more.
Last weekend I had the privilege of going to a symposium at the NY Open Center on near death experiences with Anita Moorjani and Eben Alexander. It was a magical event that was made even more magical because my half-sister came along with me. Each speaker had amazing insights to share about the meaning of life and what happens after we die. I found myself in tears numerous times throughout the day. I think the main lessons I took away from the day were the importance of living from a place of love and not fear… Making self-love a priority… Making the choice each moment to seek out joy… And to surrender… Surrender control…. Surrender trying to be something you’re not… Surrender to what is.
Lately I feel like I’m all talk and no action. Knowing what I need to do but not doing it. So tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day, I vow to take action and live from a place of gratitude, love, and surrender. Then I’ll try to do it again the next day. And the next day. Until one day, I’ll look up and realize how much fun I’m having living life and not avoiding death anymore.
Blessings to all. -T