Do you ever have to cancel plans because you’re not feeling well? In doing this, have you ever felt guilty? I do.
In a time before cancer if ever I had a cold I would resume my normal routine: working, training, socialising. A cold wouldn’t have impacted these. I always had the opinion that a duvet day for a cold would only allow symptoms to manifest. Duvet days seemed indulgent. Therefore I would aim to sweat it out.
On my road to recovery I have slowly scheduled more plans into my week. This has been great because not only do I feel a sense of achievement in doing ‘normal’ things but it is great seeing people. I have missed spending time with my friends and colleagues. Unfortunately I started this week with a cold which brought the usual sore throat, general aches and a snotty face. Couple this with a grumpy wisdom tooth and needless to say I haven’t been feeling my best.
On Monday I cancelled dinner with my friends in a bid to make sure I was fit to return to work on Wednesday. On Tuesday I didn’t feel much better and on the advice of my GP I will be postponing my return to work for another week. Tuesday evening saw me cancel more dinner plans as my cold was still in situ.
Wednesday was a struggle as I spent Tuesday night waking up every two hours. I don’t know if it is the HRT or the pain in my wisdom tooth but the situation repeated itself on Wednesday night too. I am currently lying in bed after cancelling more plans trying to remember a time my life didn’t revolve around duvet days! I have had enough of them in the past few months to last a lifetime. The only plans I have managed to commit to this week are with my doctor, my support worker at Maggie’s and hopefully tomorrow I can add my dentist to that list.
So on top of a snotty, slight swollen face (thanks to the wisdom tooth) and my achey body I feel guilty for cancelling so many plans. It almost feels like a set-back but I have to remember my body is still recovering from its recent achievement. How can I be angry at my immune system for taking its time over a common cold?
It’s been a month now since I got the news I had been dreaming of since April and I am still working my way through a range of emotions.
Having had time to reflect I realise now that my initial reaction of anger and feeling vulnerable is perfectly normal. Upon being diagnosed my life became a series of appointments where I continually had a focus. First it was to see my gynecologist who referred me to get several scans which led me to my oncologist who led me to a series of planning meetings. Then weekly treatment began where I was constantly meeting with a whole host of specialists. It was as if I had evacuated my old life and someone had placed me on a treadmill. I was constantly looking ahead and pacing myself towards my next appointment. On the day of my results I reached my final goal and it felt as if someone had hit the emergency button. Everything stopped. No more meetings. No more appointments. Yet, the treadmill I had been running on had taken me miles away from life as I once knew it.
Being an optimist and receiving the news of remission brought expectations of celebrations and rejoicing. It is then difficult to accept the range of feelings I do have. Yes, I am delighted, relieved and I feel so lucky. I am truly thankful but these emotions come hand in hand with ones of frustration. The staff at Maggie’s (https://www.maggiescentres.org) have been an incredible source of support. They explained that a cancer diagnosis causes people to go on auto pilot which is why at the end of treatment it is common to feel the way I do. More importantly they advised me to simply allow myself to feel those things. Initially I felt guilty being angry: there are so many people who are still fighting for their lives, people who won’t be as lucky as me, how dare I be angry or upset. But the reality is not that I am ungrateful. The reality is something traumatic happened to me and for the past 5 months I hadn’t allowed myself to feel scared or angry. It is only now these emotions have caught up with me. Unlike my usual mantra of ‘focusing on the positives’ I need to just accept that sometimes I am sad. It’s not a weakness.
As someone who has always relied on exercise as a stress reliever it is incredibly difficult to feel this way without an outlet. I am envious of my team mates as they start the hockey season. I am desperate to set myself a new goal but I am cautious as I know my body has limitations.
On Sunday I ran for the first time in 5 months. I ran a distance of 4k. This achievement brought a feeling of elation and determination. I am at a point now where I am doing two things: Getting to know my body and rebuilding my life.
My body was my own temple which allowed me to run before work, achieve my day to day tasks and easily incorporate some socialising in the evening. It maintained a comfortable body temperature and dare I say it – I was toned. Now I have to ease myself into any task I set myself for the day. The menopausal side affects make me a hot, sweaty mess and my sleeping pattern is disturbed regularly. My once toned temple has been replaced with a lumpy, bumpy shed. I don’t have the body confidence I once did. However this body got me through cancer which is amazing and if it can do that then I will restore it so its exterior can have one worthy of such achievement!
Prior to the 8th April I lived a hectic schedule of work and play. On a weekday I would leave the house at 7am rarely to return within 12 hours. Prior to the 8th April I had ambitions of running two more marathons before I turn 30 and dreams of starting a family. I will return to my schedule of work and play. The dreams I had before are still achievable but for the time being I need to focus on setting small, smart goals. Goals which will help rebuild my life slowly. Brick by brick.
My first run in 5 months followed by a cwtch with Parsnip!