Always when I write a blog post I want it to be the last one. Sometimes I have thought it will be the last post and that this will reflect the ending. I think I am finally coming to an understanding that this experience is not about endings but instead new directions.
I have left some things behind. Burdens are by their nature heavy and I travel more lightly now. The process of time and reflection has enabled me to do this and these joint forces have slowly changed the shape of my thinking.
Falling into the category of burdens too heavy to bear are the following things.
Guilt. The feelings I had of causing my cancer, potentially ruining my children’s lives and being the source of distress to my family, husband and friends I have now left behind. I have also let go of feelings of guilt for not being able to sustain lifestyle changes after treatment ceased. I do want to lose weight but I am more likely to experience success by engaging in self-compassion than by using cancer as a rod for my own back. I have suffered enough. That is over.
Fear. I have stopped breathing deeply first thing in the morning to check for changes in my lungs. Tumours that I believed were there but just not big enough to make their presence felt…yet. When I breathe deeply now it is with gratitude for my life. My precious life.
Repression. I am done with forced positivity. I face challenges in my life just as every one does. I will continue to accept my emotional states as they are, authentically. I will scrutinise my feelings and honour my pain. Being positive and strong are great things to be but nobody can be these at all times.
Anger. I am no longer angry. I think I could handle unreasonable people now without experiencing rage that is related to cancer. I am a fiery person though….the most I can hope for is a return to previous levels. I am never going to be ‘Zen’.
Distress. I no longer feel overwhelmed by emotion. At times I felt engulfed but those feelings have subsided. They have been replaced by feelings of calm and finally, acceptance.
Today I attended a celebration for the life of a 15 year old daughter of a friend. She died from sarcoma, a rare type of cancer. She lived her life to the full from her diagnosis aged 10 and to well beyond her terminal diagnosis. Today marked her passing from this life but her family and friends will hold her in their hearts forever. Her amazing strong family were able to celebrate her life. She got 15 years and she filled it. What other possible reminder could we need to be grateful for our lives and live them as fully as possible. It should be enough.
Finally I feel that as I enter my 3 year post diagnosis, that I can see my way forward. That I can live my life with acceptance of the challenges that have been but not be dragged down by them.
And that is my hope for my future. I hope… and think about the future and that is probably the most significant change I have experienced.
You can’t control what happens to you in your life but you can make choices about how you handle yourself. Those choices will define you. Choose well.