Sunday, January 31, 2010

Getting through it all

I've decided that cancer doesn’t change who you are, rather it confirms who you are. How I react in a crisis, how I make decisions, who I turn to for support—these are part of the essence of who I am. The core values that were important to me before my diagnosis are what help me deal with it now. Some people are truly changed by the experience, but what if I find that when I resume my life, I just want to celebrate the person I've always been, and still am? Would that be so wrong? After the initial shock, I found myself dealing with breast cancer in the same way I deal with every major challenge in my life. I get through it with a little denial, a lot of humor, and with the confidence to trust that, guided by my medical team, I will make the right decisions. I am still half expecting, based on media portrayals of the experience, that it will reveal an epiphany about my life. But I have yet to have an extreme spiritual makeover. What if the only growth I had was the one removed by my surgeon?
It hasn't been so much about "attitude" as just trying to get through it because there really isn't any other choice. Going through cancer treatment isn't because you have a choice, you do cancer treatments - you live or you take a chance on not living long. To me, it isn't a choice, its a given; you just do it. There are so many days that I have a “bad attitude” about my cancer treatments – chemotherapy does not play nice, and I don’t care what kind of attitude you have, it is no fun, and all the good attitude in the world isn’t going to change it!

So how do I get through this?

  • My sense of humor, which I think becomes more twisted as I continue on this journey.
  • I let myself have a “bad attitude about chemotherapy.” I've accepted it but I try not to let it rule me. I am A-OK with my bad attitude.
  • I've accepted my tears and my pain; unfortunately it comes with territory.
  • I try not to judge myself by how others deal with cancer and its treatments. One thing that I have learned when it comes to cancer and its treatments, is that it affects everyone differently… There is no one-size fits all in cancer, so you have to blaze your own trail to follow.
  • I've accepted the fact I have to go through cancer treatments, and try not to spend my time asking “why me?” Cancer is an equal opportunist.
  • I don’t beat myself up – chemo does a damn fine job on its own and doesn’t need my help.
I have been so lucky to have so many good friends in my life. Each of my friends has made my life so much richer, and I love the magic, the beauty, and the laughter they bring to my life! It has been so hard for me to share with my friends that I had cancer. I had planned to do this cancer journey by myself, but you know what? It has been impossible to do so. I find it so hard to ask for help. Cancer is teaching me to ask for help, and accept it… It still is not easy, and I still want to pull away from everyone, but my friends will not let me, and for that I am grateful. I just may learn that it is ok for me to let others take care of me and ask for help yet.
A special shout out to my friend Dana who made me her famous cinnamon roles and brought them by all because I said chemo causes me to crave "sweets". She barely got out the door before I attacked them! They were utterly delicious! Thanks, Dana!

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