Been a few weeks, folks. To all who sent notes - thank you so much.
Not long after I posted my updated reading list I came down with a very bad cold which rapidly turned into something a bit more disturbing. I spent the better part of a week in bed and am slowly coming back.
I'm not sure why something so simple as a common cold laid me low but I suspect that I'm living a very fine line these days between "sick" and "well." I feel mentally and physically fragile . Since I stopped active cancer treatment and went on parole I've had some terrible bouts of anxiety and depression. No desire to do anything - not even to get out of bed in the morning. Physically I was having odd symptoms like joint and muscle pain if I walked or gardened too much. The medication I'm taking also has some side effects that are rather interesting - I'm taking an estrogen blocker called tamoxifene which is wreaking havoc with my body and my head. I'm cold most of the time except for these moments when I have hot flashes and then I'm stripping down to my underwear because I'm way too warm. The cold that laid me low finally was nothing in the beginning - a few sniffles and a sore throat- but I went downhill with a rapidity that scared the living daylights out of me.
Is this my "new normal" or is this just a post-treatment period that I have to get through? I really don't know. I've been looking for answers in some very fine blogs that I've found recently. One that I would heartily recommend is called Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer which delves deeply and thoughtfully into the issues that survivors face. This post in particular (and the discussion it started) is a must-read, Establishing Your New Normal: Life After Cancer.
The message that I am getting from this and other blogs is simply that what I'm going through is not at all unusual. Just because active treatment is over doesn't mean that I can put parentheses around the past year and call it a "petite pause' or a "minor blip" in my life.
So how to face this? Well, it sure helps to have a program (AA), to have friends and family and to have faith. In the middle of all this I received a package from some friends in the U.S. and in it was something they called a "God Box." When I'm worried or depressed or just feeling awful, I write down on a piece of paper what's going on, put in the box, and turn it over to God. It's a way of saying, "Look I can't seem to fix what's wrong here (in fact it's beyond my power to fix) and I'm all out of ideas so I'm going to give it to You and I'm going to trust that You will take care of it for me."
Pretty powerful and, believe me, it works. Not in the sense that that suddenly everything is suddenly going my way but in the sense of regaining serenity - accepting the things I cannot change - and courage to go on and do the very best I can with what I do have.