First of all an apology to all those who follow my blog because I haven’t blogged for a while, there is no real reason to this but that I am now on another journey through recovery and my blog has evolved, and although my breast cancer is always in the back of my mind it is no longer ruling and controlling my life as it once did.
“Moving into the next phase of your life is a lot like crossing monkey bars. You have to let-go at some point in order to move forward.”
I keep putting off having prosthetic “Phil” being fitted but it has been ordered in and will have it by the end of next week so breast cancer in a way is still a headline for the New Year. I am looking out for sales on new bras now that my only two white ones which I used with “sponge bob” are getting a bit boring! I made a mistake of throwing out my old bras but could have fitted a pocket into – hindsight is a good thing.
My next Consultant visit is in February and what has surprised me is that I have not had another scan since treatment has stopped – I had somehow expected to have one and I must ask my consultant why this isn't so because it would so much put my mind at rest if I did. I suppose that it is all good news that I don’t? One year of taking the pills – four more to go!
I still get very tired at times so I know that I haven’t fully recovered but my energy levels and resolve is so much better, amazingly so and I have carved out a different life for myself after cancer that is more fulfilling, fun, hopeful and more importantly calm! I’m not saying life isn't chaotic, full of ups, downs and confusion and disappointments but serenity of mind and happiness are concepts that are more real and have more meaning to me than ever before and being grateful for what I do have rather than what I haven’t a better way to finding happiness.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
I hope that you all had a good Christmastide and more importantly - if ill the hope of brighter things to come and those who are grieving (and I know quite a few people who are right now) moments of happiness and good memories, understanding and the support that you need.
I wrote a poem about last Christmas (at bottom of this blog) but I can certainly say that my Christmas was so different than last year’s! The build-up, the warmth and the love around me so tangible and which was so missing last year has made up for it. As I adore everything about Christmas I was so relieved as well! The only person I had to try and infuse the Christmas spirit into was my 14 year old who also remembered last Christmas so well and it tinged this one with its memories. He has anger in him that has not been fully resolved but I think with his granddad around and quality time with me did in the end give him what he needed to enjoy Christmas again. Laughter and love there is nothing like it.
“Sit with someone special in a room lit only by Christmas tree lights and remember that our blessings outnumber the lights”. - Author Unknown
What will this New Year bring? I am making one resolution only and that is “to take better care of me so I can take better care of others”. This encompasses so many things, trying to give up smoking (again!), diet, exercise, meditation, fulfillment in giving back, following my dreams, growing spiritually and challenging myself and the way I react to a changing circumstances and a moody angst but tremendous teenager! Having the one resolution means also I can take my time and not set myself up for failure at the outset which is what often happens with mine and many others’ resolutions!
January brings birthdays for both me and my son – last year I had a major hypo and also fell down and broke my ankle the day after my birthday so will be extra careful this year! This year I will be starting my training to become a hospital visitor with the Chaplaincy – a ten week Saturday morning course, have a major meeting for a community project, and resumption of poetry groups and performance – so it’s a busy month ahead.
Later in the year I hope to obtain two second hand bikes and start cycling again – me and my son – and meeting up with some of the cycling community, start swimming as have the right “boob” to do it, improve my living environment, write a book (yes a book!) and an outlet for all my emotions either through blogging, poetry, meditation, laughter (still thinking of doing a laughter workshop) – I am also being encouraged in thinking of setting up a single parents group again which was put on the back-burner when diagnosed with cancer or a maybe a breast cancer support group in my area of which there is nothing and more quality time with my son (which I think will be the hardest thing to do as neither he or I know what that means now he is at the age he is at). I will become a great aunt for the first time (that does sound old!), go to Italy to see Daniel’s dad’s side of the family which he needs to badly do (and the Italian family have offered to pay for our flights) and finally I hope to find a partner by a consequence of improving confidence in myself and all of the above – I am not the only one around me that wants this one so I think we will be joining forces on this quest!
So many plans, dreams, hopes, action and achievements – and who knows where I will be this time next year (hopefully not with a cold and cough as now) but with all its opportunities and not knowing what is round the corner it’s exciting to think about!
The main thing though is that I am happy simply being who I am, stronger, calmer and more hopeful and in some ways it’s having cancer that has lead me here.
What are the things I learned about myself during this year through change and circumstances and which wisdom will bring into this year?
“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it”. It’s the way you react to life that matters, your attitude to the disappointments, the negative things that happen.
Even if life may knock you down, by being grateful you find reasons, if even small ones, to get up and start again. Don’t react in anger – step away from the situation and consider your reaction or you could be in danger of doing something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.
Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.” Nothing lasts for ever even the bad times, and that you can grow and learn through them too for a realization of something better even if you keep making the same mistakes eventually you realize that they are.
“Be happy. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Happiness is a choice. Life isn't about pleasing everybody.” If you can cut out the negative people out of your life who don’t appreciate you, encourage you or make you happy or at least keep them at a distance.
“When someone tells you, “ You've changed,” it might simply be because you've stopped living your life their way.” Don’t let people tell you how you should be living, what you are doing wrong and that you are a bad person because you have your own opinions and believe in a different way of living or bringing up your children – listen to and take advice by all means but make sure it’s because it suits you - however listening to and believing in negative criticism is another thing altogether. Whoever you are you are person of value and you need to believe in yourself, and make your own choices rather than believe in what others tell you – only you know what is right for you.
“If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn't eat him.” Life isn't fair but that doesn't mean that you should not be fair to yourself or to others and become bitter because of the unfairness of life.
“If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past. If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.” Another’s person truth may not be your own version but if they lie then they have to live with the consequences of that lie, the loss of trust and the regrets that comes with it.
“Life becomes easier once you learn to accept an apology you never got” – this is a quote I only found today. It is better to move on then dwell on the past – easier said than done but if you know you are never going to get an apology let it go it’s not worth waiting for one and getting angry. People these days would rather justify to themselves that they have done nothing wrong and find excuses not to apologize so it turns out to be a war of words that just causes more hurt and anger. To go with this is that you should never have to apologize or back down for anything you feel you have not done wrong nor have responsibility for just to make life easier. This is a tricky one but mutual understanding is the only way to resolve this and it may be that on both sides things have been said or done that haven’t been right and it is about trying to find a neutral and middle ground. Good communication is the key but you can’t do anything if the communication is full of condemnation and hurtful.
“It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, who accept you for who you are and would do anything to make you smile and love you no matter what that means the most. “ I am so grateful for the family, friends and colleagues around me who do exactly this and this is a huge thank you to them.
“It’s a miracle to have single friend who will stand by your side when others are against you.”
The best thing you can do for yourself, for others and a poke in the eye for those who put you down is to be as happy as you can - and my definition of happiness: pleasure, engagement, and meaning involving both daily positive emotions and a global sense that life is worthwhile. Grateful for what you have in life - if you have enough food to eat, shelter over your head, friendship and love there is richness in your soul.
I wish you all a happy and hopeful New Year.
I tried, I really did try to find that spark that special Christmas feeling to ignite
And pretended for the sake of others, painting on a smile
Making the best of it as I could for a while
But not managing to fool anyone
I woke up early put on the fire, blearily eyed as usual
Opened up the stockings presents those silly gifts of affection
Even then I couldn’t pretend to give it my attention
I gave my son a robot to build hoping it would absorb him
And it did as I slept and hid myself away
On that last Christmas day
I awoke at each telephone call wishing me happy Christmas
With platitudes that I was happy, an emotion I couldn’t evoke
I pulled a cracker and even cracked a joke
Dressed for lunch with such a silly hat
All conversation went over my head I couldn’t comprehend
Couldn’t bear that Christmas fare eating was chore
Tasting like the ripped up wrapping paper strewn across the floor
My eyes drooped in fatigue
Again I slept and hid myself away
On that last Christmas day
I arose to watch Dr Who wrapped in a blanket on the sofa
I began to doze again, kept nodding off and waking
In chemo sickness there is no point in faking
My son morosely remarked that this Christmas was different
And I felt a kindred spirit with those on Christmas day
Who are alone, old, distressed, grieved, depressed in any way
With hidden dreams of what Christmas should be
Yet in of this I was still thankful still grateful
As I slept and hid myself away
On that Last Christmas Day