Surviving This Day
I'm giving credit here, where credit is due. I read a tweet last week that quite literally hit the nail on the proverbial head...it read:
"Trauma doesn't just roll off the back. Take space to process. Allow yourself to feel heavy. Don't feel bad for feeling bad. Resilience isn't faking wellness."-Amber at @purposedsailor
I sometimes feel like everyone around me expects me to just be ok. Like, yes I've gone through hell, but "being here" coupled with a recent clear scan should mean that I'm back to normal with gratitude oozing from my veins and a lease on life that is unmatched. News Flash...I haven't felt "normal" since September of 2017. I honestly have almost zero recollection of what normal should even feel like at this point. Am I grateful? Yes. Am I also sad, confused, angry, TIRED and perhaps a tad bit resentful? Also yes. Not a sob story, just the ugly truth. The world keeps moving on, or one might argue, falling apart, and as I try to roll on with it, I'm still stuck with the many memories and current realities that keep me from waving to cancer in the rearview mirror like I had once thought I would be able to. As I sat in my monthly oncology visit last week enjoying the time with my team, I also felt a bit of...defeat? I'm not really sure honestly what the emotion was, but as we were scheduling my next round of scans for next month's visit, the reality that this is my life, at least for now, was glaring at me. I knew we'd be on the every 3 months scan regimen for awhile, but I didn't expect 3 months to whiz by so fast. I also didn't expect the rollercoaster that has been these past 3 months. I was over the moon excited and relieved that day in April when I got the all clear. Going from stage 4 to clear scan was like having my heart stop beating and right before they pull the plug a few 'blips' appear signaling to all that hope prevails. That first month after, I felt so alive and free....and happy. The second month, I started to feel a little shellshocked. My emotions were all over the place and only because I now have years of experience, I know it was the trauma of the past few months finally catching up with me. The same thing happened after I survived sepsis, after I first completed chemo/radiation and now after I survived another round of treatment plus a stage 4 diagnosis. You see, you jump into survival mode when you're faced with the unfathomable and it doesn't catch up with you until you are finally able to just take a breath. I could recognize it this time, but even so, I was wrestling with some pretty tough emotions. For the first time in my life, I can say I understand why some people get to the point where they deny treatment and feel ready to let go. No need to call in the professionals, here, I"m good....(and I"m already seeing them, haha), but I do understand what it's like to contemplate whether or not the struggle is worth the sacrifice. Not just for me, but for the people around me.
As I write this, I'm siting out on my patio listening to the crickets and feeling the cool breeze which is inviting me to snuggle into my cozy blanket. Weird, because it will be in the 90s later today! I took the whole day off of work not just to enjoy the beautiful day, but because I needed to hit pause. I need to have a day where I 'do me' and just feel and honor any and every emotion that surfaces. Four years ago today, I was whisked away by ambulance and earned myself an ICU stay and a week in the hospital. What happened exactly, still remains a mystery. What I do know, is that following 5 months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, my body just stopped working. When I left the ER my kidneys were shutting down. When I arrived in the ICU, I had renal failure, kidney failure, heart failure, pneumonia, sepsis....and more that I can't even recall. My body was failing me. Many people don't come back from that and I haven't really shared this with many before, but as I was in and out of consciousness, I vividly remember a conversation I had with...someone....something...a higher power if you will. The message I was receiving was that my time here wasn't finished. I know, cue the dramatic music or the roll the credits, right? It was't really that sensational of a scene, but rather calm, peaceful and honestly a little confusing. Anyway, yes I was on a lot of meds, but it was real. Real to me, anyway. The thing I wish I knew or could understand is why my time here hasn't come to an end. It's not like it's been all rainbow and butterflies since that moment. Life has been hard and cancer hasn't really left me alone. I have more questions than I do answers, that's for sure. I've always held tight onto that whole experience like a beacon or a compass. The experience most definitely altered my perception on life and where the meaning of it lies. It taught me what matters and most importantly, it taught me what absolutely doesn't. It is true that Rock Bottom can teach you more than mountain tops ever will.
So as I'm coming up on month 3 and starting the grueling process of mentally and in a way, physically, preparing myself for my gazlillionth round of scans...I'm trying to figure out what this all means. I have to figure out a better way to not let this consume me, but rather let it mold me for the better. There's a lot of toxic positivity in the cancer world, especially in survivorship, that I get, but I don't always agree with. I can be grateful and grieving at the same time. I can both seek the sunrise and dread the sunset just the same. I can feel lucky for the gifts and resentful for the lesson entirely. It doesn't have to be one or the other and like the quote said earlier, I think true resilience is feeling, understanding and appreciating it all. I can both want to fight and want to give up and neither makes me more or less of a warrior. It makes me human.
As I leave you today with all of these crazy thoughts swirling now in both of our heads (sorry!), I want you to know how grateful and lucky I feel to have you all in my life. I've never had any true path or destination for Killing It Friday, but I'm loving seeing where she's going...where we're going. My wings, your wings, our wings. Keep onKilling it, Angels....Much Love always-M.
"My mission in Life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."-Maya Angelou.
Walk With Me