It all began the other day when I was taking a shower. I was sitting there, on a stool, underneath my mom’s supervision because I cannot shower on my own yet, and I became overcome with emotion. I had not really cried about my own situation since I had found out about it about a month or so before. If you know me, you probably understand that this is actually quite impressive. I have always been very in-tune with my emotions, if you will. People have actually complimented me on my ability to really feel my emotions, which I always found a tad humorous, but hey a compliment is a compliment and I won’t back down from one easily. Well, if you were a friend telling me this, I took it as a compliment. If you were an ex-boyfriend, on the other hand, I thought you were being an insensitive tool. Regardless, I had not taken any pity on myself for quite some time and suddenly I felt the absolute and overwhelming urge to do so.
Maybe just a few tears, I thought. A minor pity party will do. But it was too late. I had let some tears fall and tons of their friends came to join the party in droves. I was having a good old-fashioned sob fest right there in my shower. I couldn’t really move so I was just sitting there letting the water fall over me, washing away my tears, with my mom looking in on me saying, “it will be alright.”
The quiet crying exploded and became loud, extreme wails, accompanied by heaving, and painful sobs. And I couldn’t stop. Now, before you go on congratulating me for being so strong, a big reason why I had not really cried much over my situation stemmed from an absolute stubbornness—I don’t want to let the cancer win. If I break down and get all sad and pitiful, then that means the cancer is winning. There is a big part of me that is so against letting cancer have any impact on me it is borderline concerning. For it to change my life, define my life, or be my life means that it has won, and I don’t like getting beat. Not by anyone. Play scrabble with me once and you will understand. So, a major reason why I refused to get all down on myself was really just to shove it to the cancer. But hey, whatever works, right?
I am reading the book “Crazy, Sexy, Cancer,” by Kris Carr who was diagnosed with stage four cancer in her early 30s, and with a few minor and some major changes in her life, she was able to basically stop the cancer from killing her. (Note: if you are dealing with cancer stop reading this blog immediately and go get her book…NOW!) In her book, she actually instructs her readers to allow three days to wallow in one’s own cancer sadness and only three days. When I was first diagnosed and read that, I was running on adrenaline and I felt as though three days was a bit much. Really, I thought? I am going to be super bummed out for three days at a time? No way. Give me one good cry and I will be right back in the game. Little did I know, she was absolutely right. For some reason there is a magic to the number three in cancer-time and that is what I have found it takes to really bounce back and get back out there with those lucky cancer-free people you are trying so hard to not despise. So I allowed myself three days to just be mad, sad, annoyed—you name it I was it.
At first, I was so angry that I had had to have the mastectomy. I couldn’t get over it. That was all I could think about. I WAS SO ANGRY! It hurts, I can’t feel my arm or underarm about 50% of the time, putting on deodorant has quickly become the worst part of my day, I am always hot, I can’t exercise, and I cannot get comfortable even with the aid of about ten pillows. Comfort, currently, just isn’t a possibility. I was just so ticked off. Another day I could not stop crying. Anything would set me off. But as I always tell my sister—crying is good for the complexion—so I just let the tears roll. By the third day, I was an absolute horror. No one wanted to be around me. I couldn’t even use the cancer card. It was too late. The card had expired. I was an awful person and everyone had given up on me. Even my mom, which almost never happens. She literally was scared of me, I think. Every time I entered a room she left it. Circumstance? Doubtful.
By the fourth day, the clouds had lifted and I was semi-normal again. It was Sunday, which means football, and you really can’t get me down on football Sunday (at least until the Cowboys lose) so that helped. (Until, of course, the Cowboys inevitably lost.) It is also Halloween weekend, which happens to be my favorite holiday. (I have purchased a cupcake costume but can’t really go anywhere so I will be that crazy person just sitting at home, on the couch, in a full-blown cupcake costume with nowhere to go.) But Halloween was another positive that enabled me to climb out of my cancer-crazy. I am able to maintain conversations again and family members are not running from me in fear. All good things.
The moral of the story is that it isn’t all going to be a cakewalk. I know, real enlightening, right? Well, to me, it actually sort of was. I didn’t realize how low this whole cancer thing could get a person. Sure, call it ignorant or whatever you will. I choose to try and remain as positive as possible so these moments of absolute despair came as a shock to me. I have found, however, that you will have the inescapable moments when you want to kill someone, the thought of another shot of wheatgrass makes you cry, or small, fuzzy bunnies anger you. You will not understand it, but you are justified in your feelings. Try and deal with them constructively as to not burn too many bridges. My mom has to talk to me again so it is good I took it out on her. (She may have a different take on the story, but hey, I say, GET YOUR OWN BLOG MOM!)
For those of you reading this that are undergoing treatment or about to, I remembered a tip that I wanted to share with your section of my audience in particular. For the big, whopping, let’s-get-down-in-the dumps-weekends, you may have aspirations to have; this next tip might not be for you. However, I have found that in those moments when you are at the supermarket, eyeing yet another kid buying a pack of powdered sugar donuts while you angrily ask the employee where the organic aisle is so you can stock up on tasteless yet nutritious foods, this tip might work splendidly—it does for me. Just stick with me because it may seem a bit trivial but it really isn’t. I promise.
My instructions are to find your happy place. For me I picked a few. They are each a time period in or a snapshot of my life where I felt an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace. (I only have about two or three of these moments in my lifetime anyways, so it wasn’t hard to choose.) I know this may sound so simple but it is actually much more difficult than it sounds to get to this place when you are dealing in the moment and your mind is spinning from one negative thought to the next. Dude, you gotta get it together. If you have not found that happy place, you may find yourself in a dark spot that you just can’t get out of. When I start to go there I have these moments in time that I go to. Meditate, do a downward dog, or just sit quietly in the sun and get to your place of tranquility and get there quick. The more thought you put into your happy snapshot before you are overcome with a sense of sadness, the easier it will be to get back there. And that, my friend, is how you go from crazy to calm in sixty seconds. And if you can’t get there, leave the supermarket fast, if not for you, for the sake of the kids.