#cancersurvivor

It’s okay to not be okay

It’s okay to not be okay.  This phrase seems to be everywhere these days.  But what do you do when some people who see you quite often have no idea that you aren’t okay?  

Recently, I’ve been struggling mentally.  I’ve found myself in a depressive episode where I’ve beat myself up about things, not wanting to go to work, struggling to get out of bed and many other things that I do when rather depressed.  However, my coworkers, friends, and some family members have no idea how much I’ve been struggling.  A coworker made a comment saying I would never do something that someone who is struggling might do (what it was I can’t’ remember).  My first thought was that she has no idea if I would or wouldn’t do that.  She has no idea that behind the smile and friendliness is someone who’s suffering from so much self inflicted stress and feelings that I am not okay.

So if it’s okay to not be okay how do I do so when sometimes I feel as if I have to be okay?

#cancersurvivor

Hard Questions

In a recent therapy session my therapist asked me why I am afraid of my cancer returning and it being the ultimate cause of my death. Basically, why am I afraid of dying from cancer? The answer is I’m afraid it could cut my time short. Because it happened so early in my life I am afraid that cancer could be the reason I don’t get to do what I want to do in my life.

Luckily, I am healthy and all is well right now. But the possibility is always there, right now that fear is just a little more amplified than it usually is.

#cancersurvivor

Don’t tip your cards

I started a job last month and it is the first one since cancer where no one knows that I ever had cancer. In a way it has been nice because I feel like my old self in a sense. In another way it feels like I’m hiding this part of me that I am afraid that someone is going to find out about. I know that if someone where to put things together I figure things out it would be no big deal. I just really like getting to know my co workers and getting to exist in a world where nothing about me is associated with cancer.

#cancersurvivor

Thriving

Thriving. This word is used a lot to describe life after cancer treatments. Somehow it is supposed to be better or more encompassing instead of survivor. Thriving, thrive, thriver – I hate these words, this concept that life after cancer means your thriving. I don’t know the dictonary definition of this word but for me it generates pressure and resentment.

The first two weeks of May I did a social media cleanse, not looking at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for two weeks. What I realized is that social media is kind of stupid. About myself though, I started to reallize more and more that I’m doing ok, but by no means to I think of myself as someone who I thriving post cancer. I know that life is precious and short and I need to be making the most of it. But that’s a lot of pressure. I feel like people sometimes think I should be going out and meeting all the new people I can, or that I should get a dog because it would be good for me and the dog. But right now, I still to afraid to go out there I figure out what it is that makes a thriver.

I’m out here trying to figure out what the hell makes a life and how to get some stability into my life. There’s so much that has happened in this past year alone that feels like there’s pressure to become someone who is thriving but damn it all I can do right now is survive.

I’m okay with being a survivor, because there’s a lot of stuff I’ve had to deal with and continue to deal with that comes with plenty of its own pressure. Thriver, thriving, thrive – those words are too loaded with pressure themselves that I can never use them in my vocabulary.

#cancersurvivor, #mentalhealth, #selfcare

Scarring

I was reading the results of a CT scan I had a few weeks ago to make sure my PE from September had cleared. It mentioned that there was scarring on the outer lobe of my left lung (or something like that). This makes sense because that is the side that went through radiation, basically where the large tumor was located. It got me thinking about all of the other scars that I have amassed throughout my life. On a deeper level it really got me thinking about the scars that aren’t visable.

Emotionally, I’m left with the scars of having my old life removed with the words you have cancer. I finally had found a job within my new career field, I thought maybe I would finally be able to move out on my own again. Then September 15, 2016 cancer went ahead and pissed in the punch. Suddenly, I worried about dying, what the future held and if I would be okay. And the truth is I’m still dealing with the emotional scars of losing the hopes and dreams before I had cancer because some of them now just seem impossible. I wonder if I’ll ever have a career or if it will always be more of a job because of all the ground that I feel like I’ve lost because of dealing with cancer. I wonder if I’ll ever have my own house and be on my own again because cancer and life after cancer is expensive.

Then there are mental scars. My mental scars are based in emotion but they feel different than emotional scars. Every time I have to get some sort of imaging or ultrasound done I have that anxiety that something is going to be found. The scanxiety used to be highly emotional but now it is more of an association that the imaging orders create this fear, it’s not something felt deep inside it is just the mental response to getting that piece of paper that says orders. (I think there’s some sort of technical term for this but my psychology class was at 8am and I don’t remember anything.)

The physical, emotional, and mental scarring that comes with cancer is such a mind fuck (I can’t think of a term). I’m glad that no one told me about this in the beginning. I’m also really thankful to mental health professionals that are helping to sort through all of these scars.

#cancersurvivor, #pten

Numbers

Numbers. Sometimes, cancer and all that comes with it seems to always come down to numbers. There are a lot of numbers involved in managing life during and after cancer. White Blood Cells, neutrophils during cancer, after cancer it is things like polyps, clots, and scans to be managed. The numbers leave me overwhelmed and angry sometimes. I have to concentrate really hard on not asking why me? But asking, “Why not me?”

#cancersurvivor

Expectations

As I was driving the other day and talking to myself I realized that my expectations are just perhaps to high. Or that so much discussion about things can create expectations that are going to do nothing but disappoint.

I’m not even talking about being disappointed about having cancer at 32 and life never returning to like it was before cancer. I’m talking about how I’ve been disappointed that I went to college, graduated but have yet to find the career and money that all of the educational professionals set up the expectation for if I went to college after high school. Or that if I join a group of people with similar experiences I will find and create lasting friendships.

I’m trying my best to find the positives in my life right now but my expectations are making it difficult because I keep ending up disappointed. Maybe it is better to not have outside expectations, just concentrate on the expectations that I have for myself.

#cancersurvivor, #mentalhealth, #selfcare, Random Rambles

2021 Begins

Little life update a couple of weeks into 2021. On the fifth day of the month I got let go from my job. After the dumpster fire of 2020 this probably should have sent me into some sort of downward shame spiral. The truth is that I’ve been relieved since it happened. I’m excited to move past a situation that made me cry pretty much everyday and made me feel isolated and completely worthless. I’m excited to make a clean start with work and with the new year.

Interview outfit. Back on the job hunt!

I’ve started running again but I’m not sure how I feel about running in the cold.  It feels good to just move my body, empty my mind and honestly just concentrate on how much I want the running to be over 🙂 Overall, exercise has been harder because the gym closed but it always feels good to partake in some sort of physical activity.

I have started changing a lot of other routines in an effort to make 2021 better.  I revamped my entire skincare routine.  I’ve also started eating a more plant based diet.  Honestly, it means that I’m just eating more salads.  

Most important, I’m trying to say yes more this year.  I realized towards the end of the last year all too often my first instinct is to say no do things.  So this year I’m going to say yes.  I’m going to say yes if I’m invited to go up north for the weekend.  I’m going to say yes to going to parties.  I’m going to say yes to trying foods that I don’t like.  I just want to say yes so I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on anything.

That’s my life update so far into 2021.  Everyday it’s making progress towards the steps of a fresh start in 2021.

#cancersurvivor, #mentalhealth, #selfcare, #pten, Random Rambles

Dear 2020,

This was supposed to be my year, where things could really start moving in a favorable direction.  But you proved to be a formidable opponent, one really insistent on raining on my parade and that of everyone else.

Weekend hospital stay for a blood clot. One of moments where 2020 proved to be 2020.

You’ve made me question my self worth more times than I’ve ever done before.  I’ve learned to say I’m lonely because of you and that is never easy to say.  I’ve learned to say that I need help because you brought me to the precipice of losing all hope.  Because of you I’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Shrine of the Little Flower church, some how always there when I feel my life is falling apart. In 2020 it was there when I lost my job for the second time in 2020.

But your lessons haven’t all been bad.  I learned that stuff I liked to do as a little kid is still fun as an adult.  I learned that my family is always there and always loves me.  Travel is fun and something I am destined to do more of.  Perhaps most importantly, I’m learning to believe in the idea that things take time but eventually I’ll get to where I’m supposed to be.

Throughout all of this I’ve done my best to keep smiling. I don’t always but I try.

So 2020 I’m glad to see you go and I can only hope the new year gets better because after you there’s really no direction to go but up.

Regards,

Amanda Greenwood

#cancersurvivor

Are you happy with your life?

I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host asked the guest if they were happy with their life. Heavy question for the guest, heavy question to hear on a Monday, and a heavy question for me to think about myself. I spent all day thinking about this question and my answer is that I am not happy with my life. That’s a really hard sentence to write, I’ve never said it out loud.

The even harder part of not being happy with my life is trying to figure out what would make me happy with my life. I’ve been working on this a lot in therapy and I’ve been trying to get back to things I liked to do as a kid. I plan to try cross country skiing if there’s enough snow this winter because I loved playing in the snow as a kid. I also might here about fashion type things because that was another thing I loved as a kid, fashion and all the glamorous things like Barbie had, different outfits for each occasion.

But will these things make me happy with my life? I have no clue. All I know is that I’m trying to figure it out because I don’t want to regret things. I don’t want to look back and think I should have lived more.

A happy part of my life.