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.
I've missed your comments, but hope that you'll have a swift recovery!
So glad you are back and sorry that you have been experiencing health issues once again - just when you thought it was all behind you.
Your generosity in sharing your experiences is wonderful.
I am praying for you and all your friends and family who support you.
Having spent much of yesterday expelling the contents of my body thanks to food poisoning, I can relate to feeling fragile. Nice to read your thoughts.
Paul Riceour, French philosopher, wrote, "We are fragile and liable to err."
Hugs from afar,
I was indeed a bit worried about you these days ... Well, I cannot pray, but I am sending you a gift : a beautiful song from my very favorite singer : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhec3tHwLzo&feature=youtube_gdata_player
This song is both strong and fragile, just like you.
Take care, Victoria !
Nice regards from Grasse,
Hi, Victoria. So good to hear your voice. I really appreciate your honesty in what you share with us. I love the idea of the "God Box." That provides a way to let the feeling go. And you know, when you feel like sleeping and doing nothing, just do that! I am sure your body needs rest after the last year. Not a petit pause, but it will recede into the past gradually...
Shining my light out to you.
you are in our prayers. and i am sure that your openness about your suffering is balm for you. have you ever run into this from malcolm muggeridge?: “the only thing that teaches one what life’s about—the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies—is suffering, affliction.”
So sorry to hear that you have been going through a rough time. As you have noted from the other blogs, this is quite normal - we forget just how much our body has undergone, and just how long the recovery can be.
In my case, even 18 months after my stem cell transplant, I have more muscle aches than I expected. When I asked one of my doctors about it, she said, many other patients tell her it takes 3-5 years to get back to normal and then, somewhat mischievously but with compassion, one is older with some of the normal aches and pains of the aging process.
I expect that your treatment will not have such long-term effects, and you will be able to look back at this as an unpleasant bump in the road. But not easy at the time.
@All Thank you for your prayers and your comments.
@Cecil, What a beautiful song. Thank you. Sting's music is really something else. Such a voice he has.
@Shirl and Rowan, Always so delighted to hear from you, You are in my thoughts often and I hope to see you on this shore soon.
@joe, Oh that is a great quotation and it reminded me that I haven't read Muggeridge in a long time. I had a much-loved copy of Chronicles of Wasted Time which I turned over to someone else a few years ago. Time to re-read, I think. One I just finished and highly recommend is John Waters' Lapsed Agnostic which is an incredible read.
@Andrew, You are also often in my thoughts. I have a friend who just went through her own transplant and I've recommended your blog to her. You have such a powerful on-line voice and you express so many things so well.
But here's the miracle - we are still here. It is such a joy to just be and to appreciate the small stuff. Earlier this week I went into Paris and was delighted to see that I had enough eyelashes finally to be able to put on some mascara. It was the high point of my morning. :-)
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