Me: “I am so tired of all of this, I am restless and angry and sad and I just feel like this is going to go on forever.”
Audrey: “What is?”
Me: “This damn cancer thing, it's always something, it's like it never ends. Chemo, surgery, then radiation then hormone therapy . . . I’m stuck in this damn house again, can’t sleep, in pain, it’s just draining me, its like it never ends!”
Audrey: “Ok I am going to say something harsh right now, that may be tough to hear, but we really need to pull you out of this place of disempowerment right now and quick, OK?”
Me: “O-o-K-K” (through my sobs and tears)
Audrey: “Monique you have been through a lot, you have and you have been blessed to have it go as well as it has. A big part of that too is how well you have handled things up until now. AND it is not done yet, there is more to come. AND, you want to be grateful that there is still more that can be done.”
Audrey: “If the doctors told you there is nothing left to be done, go home and live the rest of your days, then we would really have something to be sad about. Thank God there is more treatment to be done that can help you, because the alternative is your not being here.”
Me: (Long pause) - F! “You are right . . . I wasn't thinking about it that way.”
She was so right. She said the exact things I needed to hear to shift my whole context that I have been living in for the past week.
What I have been struggling with is, I "should" be soooo grateful that I didn't have to have a mastectomy, so I don’t have the right to be upset with life right now. People think I should be cheering from the rooftops! (Believe me I am!) I speak to women all the time who have it way worse than I do, so I get it. I DO! But should that mitigate my own pain or struggle? F, no it does NOT! It's not about the surgery. It's about this entire process. Each treatment has recovery time and during this time its, just a reminder that I have cancer in the first place, which I try hard to forget on those good days.
What I learned was trauma is trauma, (whether you have your breast removed or have a piece of it cut out), and distress is distress and you don’t know you are in it until it shows up and you don’t want to get out of bed! For me it’s like one minute I am fine, instagramming and online shopping, and the next I am bawling in the shower. I can't explain it. I try to push it down and, "think positive," which never works in the moment by the way. WHY? Because trying to deny what you are feeling makes you crazier! If you don't feel it, how can you acknowledge it? If you don’t acknowledge it, how can you get to the root of it and move past it? Short answer is, you can't! Oh, and the whole, “I can handle this on my own, I got this! Is unnecessary pain you are putting yourself through. Believe me, “I got this!” is my middle name.
What people don't realize, what I didn’t realize is, that when I am feeling down I cannot always figure out how to pull me out of it on my own. (I also didn’t know that anesthesia makes you susceptible to depression EEK! Making it even harder to pull yourself out of it, duh!) We all have that someone, who might know what to say to pull us out of the fog. That someone who loves you unconditionally, doesn’t judge, gives it to you straight with a spoonful of sugar and holds you up to be your best possible self despite how you may be acting in that moment. They are usually that someone you don’t what to, “bother” because you think they are too busy. Yeah, that someone. A little advice? Reach out to them! Today that one conversation with Audrey, my someone, shifted how today was going to go, and I am so grateful for that.
Everyday I pray and give thanks for how well my healing has gone thus far, but saying it and being it, Audrey made me realize, is not the same thing. I may have had chemo, and now surgery, and am looking at having radiation and 5 years of hormone therapy that will shift me into early menopause, but so what if I am here to still be with the ones I love?!
Right now, I may not be able to board a plane to Spain, mall hop, take a long drive to a remote part of the city, or eat all the cheese pizza I can stomach, I will be able to at some point (maybe not the cheese thing, that might kill me). Today I will focus on what’s important, that I am making progress.
So, what shall I do with my day hmmmmmm? No cheese pizza . . . but gluten free, dairy free pancakes is a good place to start!