While I would not claim to have or have ever had experienced insomnia, I cannot say that I sleep as peacefully as I would prefer. See, a year or so after a Stage IIA Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis, I am cancer free- that deserves several “Woots” and a big “Hell Yeah!”. However, having finished chemo in November 2013 and Radiation in January of 2014, I find myself still reeling from the reality of it all. This sometimes rolls around in my brain while I attempt to sleep. I also will worry about a bump or a lump I think I found and choke back the anxiety over “..is it a mosquito bite or cancer….”.
There are moments where I have and continue to feel as if the diagnosis was a weird dream and other times where it was and is inundating my entire existence. Having friends who have, had or are experiencing their own cancer journey or sharing the journey of a loved one has been a mixed blessing.
What I mean by that, is this: There is a part of me that wants/wanted to feel “This is/was nothing! No big deal, FIDO (Forget It Drive On), it could be worse and you know people who have had it worse. Be grateful it is not worse, you will be fine!” Then, there is a part of me that felt/feels like my world and my faith and confidence in life was stolen.
I read something today about PTSD (Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder after Cancer ) and I recalled a good article that Kate sent me about the grieving process (7 Stages of Grief: Through the Process and Back to Life) which led me to remember hearing that if one “skips’ a step in the overall grieving process, at some point in time they will have to “complete” that step.
So, maybe what I am going through now is the PTSD and any grieving step(s) that I skipped. Instead of jumping when I hear a noise like someone who associates a noise with trauma for other PTSD’s, I am facing the anxiety of not jumping to a conclusion every time I feel a lump or bump or experience what is sometimes chronic pain.
I consider myself a realistic person. I know that keeping positive goes a long way in health, wellness, prevention, recovery, treatment, life, etc. I also know that I feel down and overwhelmed and it does not make me a negative person. Having a few negative thoughts in regard to stressful situations does not breed illness. I like to say that the occasional pity party is okay, just set a curfew and do not drink anybody else’s kool-aid. I find that the party is more than it is cracked up to be and I get the hell out of dodge and move to a happy place with myself or others!
I also worried for awhile that I could not be a good role model for health and wellness if I was dealing with cancer. I know that was not true. My dear friend who is dealing with cancer said it best about herself “.. I do not get sick, I get cancer…”. And just because someone gets sick or gets cancer, it does not mean they cannot be healthy or well!
My Life Balance now consists of finding and maintaining a healthy perspective of what needs to be paid attention to. I am fortunate to have gone into treatment an overall healthy and well person. This has paid off in my survivorship stage(s) as well. That being said, I still have to face the latent affects of the cancer and the treatment. I did not intend to ever become an “expert” on cancer and the side effects of treatment. I still don’t want to but I do need to become an expert on ME!
While I cannot assume fatigue and discomfort and lumps and bumps are cancer or side effects of treatment, I cannot assume they are not. I strive to be self aware and note changes that I may or may not expect. I share them with family and friends, my oncologist and my fellow wellness providers and advocates. Additionally, I am continuing to eat well and increase my physical activity. I am still learning to grieve, not just for my experience but for those who are facing cancer, for their loved ones and for my loved ones. I also continue to learn to celebrate my life, my relationships and a different perspective on life, immortality and each and every day of my life, good or bad.
Yours in Health & Wellness,