When we first heard the news that Brad’s cancer was back it didn’t seem to shock me as much as the first time Brad was diagnosed in 2008. I guess on some level I knew the cancer was back, while the first time it was news we were not expecting. Yes, I kinda shut down for the rest of the day. Yes, there were some tears shed, but then I pulled up big girl panties and told Brad that cancer has never come up against a super fantastic and sparkling attitude so cancer does not stand a chance.
That was the Monday November 23, 2014 when we were told by phone that Brad’s biopsy came back positive for cancer that was consistent with Rectal Cancer. How far it had spread we had no idea. This was just a small sampling from an enlarged lymph node from his October CT Scan. No other lymph nodes were enlarged. However, there was an increase in the number of micro and macro nodules in both of Brad’s lungs which may be cancer, but they are too small to biopsy. Sigh! We had now entered the unknown turf to play the wait and see game again. ARGH!
We then started the process of putting together our medical team in San Diego. Our current team was in Los Angeles and we did not want to be traipsing back and forth between the two cities for treatments. Too much stress that neither of us needs.
I did notice as the holiday season started I myself started to shut down emotionally. I was falling into the trap that I fell into the first time. On our first journey cancer became the center of our lives. This time we are maintaining our own lives as the center and cancer will have to work around us. A very dear friend reminded me of a saying a mutual business coach of ours has, “Life works. My life works. People and things work around me.” This saying has now become my new motto for 2015 to remind me that we are the hub of our lives and everything else becomes the spokes from our hub. Cancer is just one of those spokes.
I started getting angry with myself as I started the emotion shut down. I realized what was happening and wasn’t sure what to do about it and couldn’t seem to stop myself from sinking lower. I wasn’t sleeping well, which didn’t help. I wasn’t taking care of myself as I should be. I can even hear my fellow caregivers getting ready to kick my butt about this. It’s okay I’m already kicking my own butt and blistering up the pages of my journal. I’m getting some serious writer’s cramp from all the journalling I am doing to combat this sinking feeling. Although I feel like I’m getting a grip on things and turning things around. Earlier I wrote a blog about Caregiver’s Golden Rule which was inspired by something I read in Jack Canfield’s Key to Living the Law of Attraction. That was a wake up call for me. Since reading that passage and blogging about it, it appears to have stopped the downward spiral. I took time to acknowledge the emotions I was feeling and gave myself permission to feel them. I spent the day listening to music as I worked and felt the energy coming back as the spirits lifted. Now I’m feeling more balanced and able to get back to work as well as making time for myself. The super fantastic sparkling feelings are tingling again. THAT is a good sign!! 🙂
Whether you are the patient or the caregiver cancer is not an easy thing to deal with. You are on an emotional rollercoaster and you never know when the next wave of emotions are going to hit you, how bad they are going to be, or how long it will last. Prepare game plans while you are on the upswing so when the downswings happen you have something in place to help you deal with them. Have a phone tree ready of people you can call to talk to, maybe it’s a playlist of songs that help you through that time, maybe it is curling up with a book, maybe it’s hiding away with your journal and pouring out onto the pages what you are going through, it could be making confetti out of a glossy magazine, going for a walk or run. Whatever you come up with have it ready to go so when you start to learn what is happening you are ready to deal with the emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them and experience them. Ignoring them or bottling them up will not do you or anyone around you any good.
What are some of your mechanisms that you use to help you through the downswings on the emotional rollercoaster? Please leave your comments below.
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