12 September 2014 – My Journal (written in the midst of chemotherapy)
Lots of deep thoughts for this journal entry and something that I have been thinking about a lot since my diagnosis and it goes something like this…
Why did I get cancer?
I know that there is no definitive scientific answer to this question and I’m not particularly spiritual either. Religious to an extent, however, I don’t actively practice (I don’t go to church every week).
After diagnosis, I became very distanced from the ‘Catholic’ beliefs and angry as to why this has happened to me. I guess it’s natural to want to blame someone. These angry feelings have subsided and I’ve come to accept that this (the cancer) is real, it is happening and I don’t need anger at God getting in the way of my recovery.
But the question still begs at me… why did I get cancer?
IT IS without a doubt the most obvious question anyone in my position would be asking. You then continue on the obvious arguments and denials on why you have cancer or more to the point why I shouldn’t have cancer… I am thirty years young, I am young, fit and healthy. I never did drugs, I have never risked my life (therefore never been unappreciative of life), I breast fed two children (this is meant to lower the risk), I am a kind person, I eat healthy and I exercise… Yet somehow, none of this matters – not one bit of it, because it only took one night in the shower to feel a lump that would change my world forever.
Hearing the words – “It’s malignant” followed by “Invasive breast cancer” brings on a sensation that can only be described as chilling and sickening. Your way forward and the direction in which you knew you were headed is erased… you are now lost in a new foreign world that is completely overwhelming and absolutely terrifying.
Leaving the Doctors Surgery the night we were given my diagnosis on 30 June 2014 after about a two hour discussion with our amazing GP was like walking into the wilderness. My husband describes this moment as we pushed the green exit button and the double doors sliding open “was like stepping onto the set of ‘The Hunger Games’ ”. Life as we knew it was over… Kill or be killed. We were shattered.
After two and a half months of surgeries, endless medical appointments and beginning chemotherapy, I have done a staggering amount of thinking and processing emotions, whilst trying to keep as much normality in our lives as possible.
I came to the conclusion that there will never be a scientific or just answer to the ‘why me’? It got me thinking along different avenues. I could just let it go, but we live in a society where we seek answers to EVERYTHING! Plus, the chemo weeks give a lot of time to deliberate on things when you physically cannot do anything else. It’s not stressful deliberating, or self-destructive thoughts, I know coming up with an answer or a theory will not change my diagnosis – it’s just the mind working its wonders and channeling thoughts across all non-scientific possibilities.
I have had this urge to challenge my way of life and I have felt a new level of happiness that bursts from within when I finally start to feel well again between chemo treatments. It’s a happiness that can only be described as complete and utter gratefulness. I know that sounds uncanny given that I am fighting cancer, however, the desire to make the most of every minute when I start to feel well again is exhilarating and I am so unbelievably happy and grateful for my life, albeit in my fight against cancer.
It is what it is – but it can also be “it is what you make of it”.
Questions, questions, questions!
What if this (cancer) is a test?
Here are some quotes that ultimately all deliver the same message. They have helped me at various points in my life where I may be at a cross road or have had some form of decision to make.
“You cannot fix a problem with the kind of thinking that created it”
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”.
“Nothing changes, if nothing changes”.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
What if my ‘cancer’ is more than just that? More than a diagnosis?
What if it’s a question? A test? And, if so – how do I pass?
A cancer diagnosis is a life defining moment.
Some of which I am questioning seems spiritual – yet I don’t hold God in great stead at present. I am ok with this somewhat spiritual self-analysis on the ‘why me’ question. It’s not a question for anyone else in my position, these are my own thoughts and I’m clearly trying to process this question as a form of moving on and moving forward, armed now, with what I think is the answer… might sound ridiculous, yes, but if this drives me forward with a challenge, determination and a thought process that alters my mindset into fight mode and changes the thought pattern below…
“I’m eventually going to die from this – I’ll be lucky to see my 40th birthday” (Awful thought to live with… and trust me, I’ve had them)!
“This diagnosis has occurred to challenge me and to test me – I have one chance to prove that I wish to be here so I am going to do everything in my power to make choices and live life with gusto, meaning and fulfillment. I’m going to tackle this challenge head on with all the will and determination possible”
Then doesn’t that sound better, doesn’t that draw hope for the future and distract from my illness, spotlighting more on the focus of living rather than dying?
End of Entry………………………………………
This was an approach for me in order to get my head around what was happening and how I could stay in a good frame of mind. When I saw it (cancer) as a test, it became a challenge for me to prove how much I wanted to live my life. It gave me drive and focus.
It’s important to note again, that these are my own opinions from my own battle and my own mindset. I certainly don’t think that Cancer is a test for everyone, or that if your cancer spreads and you are indeed going to die from this insidious disease, that you didn’t pass the test. Not at all! I just think that we all process things differently (and this idea worked for me).
I guess this journal entry is testament to just how much goes through someone’s mind when they are confronted with potential mortality (I was in the midst of chemo and I wasn’t coping every day). It takes you to a place you’ve never been before; it takes you to a world of constant fear and isolation. Sometimes my thoughts were too much, too complex, too time consuming and energy zapping. Sometimes I longed for my mind to be quiet and that’s when I learnt to meditate.
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