It has been about three months since I finished chemotherapy. Since then I have taught three weekend birth doula workshops, had my reversal surgery and launched, with my amazing team, the prison doula program we have worked on for over the past two years. I think I have come to own the fact that I am not that great at slowing down.
Moving forward I do not have any more trainings until October and maintaining the doula program will be easier than creating it. I did sign up for a White Woman School (unpacking racism and a white womans role in that) through the organization Mothering Justice in Detroit which runs April through October. Also I am hoping to sign up for some some training and certification programs for work. I like to be busy and be doing things but I am at a point that I am wondering if I am staying busy to not sit in the emotions that are bubbling under the surface.
I had heard from folks about the crash after cancer treatment is done. I was told to expect depression. I believed that I would not succumb to the predictions. I was wrong.
Just typing those sentences brings a lump to my throat and puddles in my eyes. I am trying to hold back so I can get my thoughts out, otherwise I could burst into a sobbing lump. I am aware of the surface tension in the fluid building up on the ridge of my lower eyelid. I will not let these tears fall, not quite yet.
My life was in three-week increments of survival during chemo treatment. In those weeks I was being proactive in creating an inhospitable environment for my cancer cells to grow or travel. Now my time feels like standing at the edge of an abyss and I do not know what to do. How to eat, what do I use for body products, what supplements should I take, even what kind of workout should I do all seem like questions of life or death right now and no one is able to give me the answers.
One might think I would become obsessively vegan, at the gym every morning, making my own deodorant and toothpaste when really all I want is to take a big warm bubble bath (in a bath tub I actually fit in) binge watch Netflix and eat chocolate chip cookies. The fact is I may end up doing all of the above mentioned. I don’t know.
The food has been the hardest struggle for me because I do believe that food is medicine (and something I actually have control over). I was vegetarian January of 2017 until about half way through my chemo when I realized my body just wanted protein and no vegetable source was satisfying it. Also, I definitely ate more meat when recovering from surgery but now I am leaning back towards a plant-based diet. It has been confusing wading though with all the information out there about Paleo, Keto, Macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, Vegan, Vegetarian, I even saw Vegan Keto as an option. I know folks who have liked almost every one of these options for weight loss or feeling like they look better. My question is what is right for me to optimize my chances of staying alive?
I am scared. I don’t want it to come back. I want to do everything I can to prevent that from happening but then I get overwhelmed and want to say “Fuck it” and get a large fry and frosty from Wendy’s and eat my feelings in the parking lot. I am feeling depressed. Today I am finally able to say it. I have been super functional in work and at home hence being able to convince myself that I am ok. That is not true. I am struggling. Jenn said it kindly this morning with the words “your colors are duller”. She speaks my language very well sometimes. My sparkle is faint. My glow is muted. I miss myself. I miss my sparkly rainbow glow. I hope she returns. I do not want to stay here.
I know exercise would help lift me up. I am so aware of this but still not doing it. I am frustrated with my balance and proprioception being off, my cardio is nonexistent and I am just bummed that I feel like I am starting at the beginning again. A trainer I spoke to suggested trying an activity that I haven’t done before so I don’t compare my progress. I though that was a good suggestion. I just can’t think of what that would be. My daughter is playing water polo and doing great and part of me would love to join a water polo league but they don’t exist. The peaceful healing feeling of being in the water and the aggression release of the game itself seem like a perfect combination. Although water polo may not be an option I am looking forward to getting in the water again. It’s been too long.
Since I can’t think of anything new at the moment I have decided to go to my old reliable soul cleansing of hiking the entire Potawatomi trail, hopefully tomorrow. It is supposed to rain but be 65 degrees. I have hiked this trail every year for I almost 10 years. Last year I missed my hike. I have been thinking about it a lot the past year and am happy the weather is breaking for me to get out there. I usually do this hike alone 1. because I hike faster than most 2. I get very much into my head – kind of like an emotional and mental power-washing. I don’t have headphones in or partake in any outside distractions. Just me and the sound of my feet on the trail. It is my religion I guess and the woods are my sanctuary. I am thinking some may be worried that I am biting off too much, too early and that may very well be true but I will only know what is right once I get out there. I don’t feel like saying “not right now” is an option. I need to do this.
My fear triggers are weird. The really warm day we had recently triggered me because all of this started last summer. The idea of going on our family vacation in June is triggering because a person I know found out her cancer had come back and spread while she was on vacation. These have been the most recent. I am hoping as time passes more of normal life will fill in the cracks where the fear and anger are wanting to linger.
I don’t know how to move through this quicker or even if that is possible or wise. I am trying, now, to not stuff my emotions down, cover them up or hide what’s really going on. I am lifting them to the surface, making friends with them to hopefully learn what I can from them before I ask them to move on. I picture in my head sitting poolside at a nice motel in the sunny southwest somewhere hanging out with my friends Fear and Anger. We are kicking our feet in the warm water and chatting about the meaning of life and the universe. Soon our time will hopefully be done together at least on this trip. We will go our separate ways knowing we will see each other again but hopefully not anytime soon. I know Fear and Anger are not bad travel companions but they have over stayed their welcome for this leg of the journey. We need them to take a break from this road trip of life.
This is my grandmother and I. She turned 101 this past Tuesday April 9th. She had breast cancer and a mastectomy in her 70’s. I don’t think I knew about it at the time it happened. I have never spoken to her about her experience. I wish I had. She is hit or miss cognitively and she does not know about my cancer. We decided it was best she not know as it would worry her. I wish I could time travel to hear her words about her journey with cancer. That would be comforting right now I think. Not anyone elses stories feel comforting but the idea of being able to hear her story is. Maybe she will come to me in a dream sometime and offer me some wisdom. Or my other grandmother who passed at 42 of cancer, maybe she will come to me in Dreamtime to let me know that whatever happens it will be ok. Do you hear that Universe? I have put out a request. Could you help me out here? I could use some guidance on the path ahead.
…….Well the dam broke over here. Tears all over my laptop. I am glad no one is home there was some ugly crying going on, and loud. I am letting the energy flow through me, letting go of whatever I can in this moment. No more hiding and stuffing, it’s time to lean in and move forward.