For those of you who don't know the back-story, the short version goes something like this: diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2012, still under treatment. (For a longer version see here.)
It was one hell of a surprise to me. Look, I smoked and drank for years. In fact I was a raving alcoholic and only got sober a few years ago. Surely, if I am going to get cancer, I thought, it would be lung or liver cancer. Nope. The universe has a sense of humour.
The hardcore treatment for this was a full mastectomy, chemo, and radiation - the Full Meal Deal. And, yeah, I got fries with that.
Fast forward to the present day. I am still in treatment. I take medication every day and I get a thorough checkup every 6 months. My close acquaintance with mortality has meant lifestyle changes: I jog, do Crossfit and I stopped smoking for almost a year.
So, after being such a good girl, what a shock to discover that I now have osteoporosis. Brittle bones which my oncologist and radiologist attribute to being too thin (yes, skinny is not healthy apparently) and my cancer medication which causes bone loss. Good to know.
The other side-effects of the cancer medication are depression and paranoia. Over the past year or so I've had moments where I was definitely driving in the crazy lane. I tried therapy, went to AA meetings, ran and did Crossfit until I was exhausted. I finally threw up my hands and asked my oncologist to please, pretty please, take me off this medication. No way, she said. It's the only thing I have left in my arsenal right now to keep the cancer from coming back. It finally got so bad in Brussels when I was in school that I cracked and asked a GP for anti-depressants. That did the trick and I am so glad I surrendered and took the pills. Sick is one thing; sick and crazy is something else.
So, that's the situation so far. The important thing to me is that I'm still here. Even better, I have packed a lot of living into the past couple of years: activism, blogging, reading, traveling, studying, and exploring a part of the world I thought I'd never see again. Can't complain about that. Though every time some well-meaning
What I do instead is explain very gently that I am not driving this car. I am sitting in the backseat. I stand by what I said back in 2012: "Acting under the illusion (or being forced to) that things can be different if you just apply enough willpower or make the "right" decision is not necessarily in your best interests, and certainly does not lead to serenity. Part of dealing with any life-threatening situation is right-sizing your ego and having a clear understanding of when it is appropriate to drive yourself and when you'd be much better off letting someone else take the wheel."
Worked for little ol' Miss Daisy and it works for me.