|Toby loving trying on his new suit|
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
I'm not doing cancer properly
A thick cloud of overwhelmedness has hidden me away from a lot of reality over the past few weeks. Some sort of mini-hibernation, where I've barely had the energy to go online, engage with friends, or cope with anything more intellectual that the act of putting one foot in front of the other. If you are one of many lovely people I haven't been in touch with recently, please don't take it personally, I've been here in body but not always in spirit. I think it's the result of too much happening too quickly over the past year or so, and spending the year not just fighting for my life, but also firefighting crisis after crisis after catastrophe, with no time to stop and process or absorb what's happening. I'm fine, but just mentally exhausted, but I think I'm beginning to come out the other side relatively unscathed.
I think the whole cancer spread news has hit me harder than I wanted to admit even to myself, and on lots of different levels. There is so much hype and nonsense surrounding breast cancer, all that pink, all that earnestness about awareness, and it sometimes feels as if there is an expectation to do breast cancer “properly”, and everyone seems to have a “breast cancer survivor” story to tell. I now that I'm not going to be a member of the BC Survivor's club, and that I've failed in doing it properly. It's unspoken, and everyone is lovely, and maybe I'm totally oversensitive, but I do detect from certain quarters a very real sense of disappointment, as if I didn't fight hard enough, as if I've let the side down in some way. Maybe it's coming from me rather than other people, but there has definitely been a period of adjustment, a few weeks trying to get my head around the enormity of it all.
Don't worry, I've no intention of crawling into my death bed for a very long time to come, and at no stage has anything even close to full-blown depression threatened to knock me for six. I just needed, and may continue to need from time to time, some quiet headspace to catch my breath, rearrange the battle plans, pick myself up and get going again.
And heck, have I got going! Three weeks ago, I spoke about needle-phobia at the NIVAS conference, and it was really well received. WM came with me, and we were thoroughly spoilt and made to feel like VIPs, and it was a really lovely day, not least because I was presented with the largest bouquet of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.
My gorgeous flowers
Well, word has spread, and I've now been invited to talk to a group of nurses at UCH, a leading London hospital, as well as to another group of nurses at the Royal Marsden. In addition, I'm also going to be leading Laughter Yoga sessions for staff at both the hospitals too.
Laughter Yoga has featured quite a bit this week, I ran 3 consecutive workshops at a local school for children with autism. The first one was with a group of 9 and 10 year old boys, all severely autistic, then another workshop for the staff, and finally a workshop for the brothers and sisters of the autistic children. Three very different sessions, adapted appropriately for each group, but each workshop went really well, and it was so rewarding to see the autistic boys come out of their shells and engage, and best of all, laugh long and loud with us. I wouldn't have missed the day for the world, it left me with feeling energised and very humbled.
We've also got another performance of Coke Floats and Chemo on Thursday, and it's totally sold out! I had better find a minute to revise my lines or they'll all be clamouring for their money back. To be honest, I'm really quite looking forward to it.
Sad news recently is that Steve, our dog, has moved to another house where I think he'll be more settled and happy. His new family are very experienced dog-owners, with other dogs, a huge garden and they live in the countryside. He was with us for four months, and we tried everything we could, two different trainers, intensive one-to-one residential training, Saturday morning lessons in the park with other dogs, we even had him neutered to see if it would calm him down a bit. Eventually it became obvious that he had picked up that I wasn't as well as I should be, and he was becoming more and more dominant around me. I was getting bitten several times a day, which is a concern because I've lost lymph nodes on both sides; any tiny cut could result in lymphodema, which is a lifelong disability. We also had to have him on the lead all the time, even indoors, because he was so destructive with furniture and belongings. It was a tough decision, because he was also adorable, and sometimes I think you fall that little bit more in love with the ones with huge personalities who can be very naughty. We had a few very sad, tearful days, but there wasn't really any other choice. It was my youngest who made the decision in the end that he must go, and I was very proud of his maturity and judgement in doing so.
My priority has to now be to stay as well as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can. I've concocted an “anti-cancer” recipe, and I'm cooking it up in batches and having it for breakfast every morning. When I can get my act together, I'll take photos as I cook it and share the recipe here. I've put a lot of research into it, and I've found a way to combine all the foods that seem to really work to kick cancer cells into shape. I'm also doing Laughter Yoga every day – laughing is incredibly good for you, releasing endorphins, increasing oxygen intake, and boosting your immune system – as well as drinking green tea by the gallon and forming an on-going relationship with my exercise bike. Does anyone actually ever get to like green tea? I loathe the stuff, but it really does work at keeping cancer cells in their place, so it's three cups of the horrid stuff regardless.
One thing's coming up that really is a bit exciting, but also will definitely be a bit tear-jerking poignant too. Toby is leaving school soon, and he has his leaver's ball on Friday. He was so proud to try on his new suit to wear to the ball - it's his first ever posh suit and tie, and was thrilled with it.
There's so much else that's going on, mostly great stuff, but some less so. I'd write non-stop til the week after next and bore you senseless if I talked about everything. So, until next time, and hopefully it won't be so long until then, please take care of yourselves and your favourite people, and I'll do the same.