I AM BACK!
It has been almost two months since I received the devastating diagnosis of thyroid cancer and published my last blog post. The time between diagnosis and surgery was not easy; rather I was anxious, confused, frustrated and at times just all out ticked off. I had a great deal of emotional baggage that came to the surface from my last bought with cancer. I wanted to write, but I felt it was best to sort out my feelings and words before spewing any unbecoming, illogical rant to the world. I am only three posts in and there is no need to turn readers away because of my temporary lapse of good judgement.
To bring you all up to speed, I am currently three weeks post op. I am starting to feel “good” again. My thoughts and emotions are interesting right now. I am not angry at the disease, I am angry at the circumstances. I am angry that my life has to be interrupted, yet again, to deal with a disease that had previously stolen time and happiness from me. I am angry because I feel like a helpless victim caught in a trap once more despite all efforts to evade the perpetrator. I am no expert, and at best an armchair psychologists, but I think it is safe to say I am a little pissed off. Actually, I am a lot pissed off. The sadness has lessened and I am now flat-out angry. Honestly, to contradict myself briefly, the moods and emotions change daily; most of the time anger and sadness prevail, but I am making a comeback slowly.
Despite my inner anger, I have been staying relatively positive outwardly. I figure why should others suffer in my presence over something they have no control over. I do get a little frustrated when I have conversation with others and they say, “Well, at least it is only thyroid cancer,” or “I know someone who had it and they are fine.” I get that this is an attempt to connect with me and to insert positiveness into the conversation, but unfortunately it does not diminish the burn. Especially when this is your second cancer diagnosis and the pathology report was less than expected. The fact still remains that I had to undergo major surgery and now radioactive iodine therapy, which both will affect me physically, mentally, economically, and socially. Not to mention possibly months of doctors visits at attempts to regulate my synthetic thyroid levels and scans every six months to ensure no re-occurrence. I was just learning to let go of worry and put my guard down from my breast cancer journey. Now I am wondering if there is another cancer storm brewing somewhere else in my body. Cancer kills and it stinks. To have any form of cancer is a punch in the gut. No caner is “good” cancer. So if you cannot tell by now, I have a bit of a rage that is still burning within.
But before you think I have totally flipped my wig or I am a certifiable hot mess, know I am taking steps towards healing both physically and mentally. I have connected with my past therapist. I am eating healthier than normal in attempts to conquer the theory of “good in, good out.” I am focusing on my faith and feeding my spiritual needs through church and up-coming volunteer opportunities. I drown myself in music along with my hobbies of collecting records, jewelry making, and crocheting. Music seems to numb that nagging voice in my head and allows for nostalgic memories and a sense of calm to be released to the forefront of my mind. Music really is my therapy. I am listening to podcasts that exercise my brain, challenge my thoughts, and promote inward reflection and learning. I rest when I am tired and I listen to my body and emotions. I am not Wonder Woman (although I wish I was because she is pretty much the bomb) and I do not need to push myself to prove anything. Most importantly, I am connecting with others and laughing.
I am surviving this cancer diagnosis and journey the best and healthiest way I can. Is it the right way? Who knows, but it seems to be working for me this second time around. I am not a machine and I have emotions, both rational and irrational. I am not the most lovable when I am irrational and rather scary at times, just ask my parents and kids. I am determined to survive, thrive and live a fabulous life. Laughter keeps me going and sometimes not at the most appropriate moments. I find if you don’t laugh, you may cry. I chose laughter.
I am truly blessed for those who choose to be a part of my life. My parents, God bless them, have been my backbone, my children have been my blessing, my extended family has been an immense support, my friends have been so caring, and my church family keeps me rolling. Everyone in my life has touched me in some special and unique way.
If I have only one bit of advice to share with any of you out there struggling with a cancer diagnosis, a health battle, a family fracture, or any painful struggle, please lean on those that know and love you the most. They want to help you and let them. You may feel the need to be strong and avoid appearing vulnerable, but why torture yourself by going through it alone. That is like going in for major surgery and telling the surgeon to hold the anesthesia. “Hey doc, I got this. I don’t want to appear weak.” Heck no! Be vulnerable, be angry, be sad, but don’t stay there. You have to pick yourself up and fight back. Let those that care help you build yourself back up or care for you until you are physically and emotionally able to stand on your own. And never be ashamed to seek professional help. I am quite the frequent flyer in the therapist category. I think everyone needs a therapist on retainer. To date, I think I have had three different therapists during three separate crises in my life. There is no shame or judgement in trying to sort out your emotions. You might as well go ahead and clean out some of that old baggage while you are at it. The less emotional baggage, the lighter you feel. Be kind to yourself and take time for yourself.
I am going to be O.K. one way or another, and so are you. We are all in this journey of life and at some point we are all going to suffer loss and difficulties whether we like it or not. We are not victims, we are soldiers fighting for the pursuit of health, love, and happiness. You are going to be O.K. baby, don’t forget that.
As I wrap this up, I have been very honest and raw with all of you today and it does make me feel a little naked, but naked is good. I thrive to live an authentic and transparent life. If my words resonate with just one person, it is all worth it. Not to mention, this is very therapeutic for me personally; my own little free therapy session. I am not an expert, but rather just a middle-aged woman from the mid-west trying to sort out life as it is thrown at her. Hopefully I get better at dodging the land mines. In all seriousness, I just try not to get too far ahead of myself and remember, life is so good when you take it one day at a time.
Until next time, be well, be brave, and don’t forget to laugh.