Sunday, 23 August 2015

Thoughts Around my Recent Cancer Diagnosis

August 23 / 2015

10 days since diagnosis with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Hopefully admission to Princess Margaret Hospital is tomorrow.

I have been nervous about the topic of Cancer (ha ha Tropic of Cancer) for many years now, since my father and three friends have succumbed to it.

Hearing the news 10 days ago was obviously a shock. For several days a feeling of dread or doom in the stomach, sinking feeling, hard in the middle of the night. Confusion trying to figure out a way to relate to all the feelings / thoughts that go through my head. What is the “right healing attitude” I should have here?? And do I have it?

A lot of time spent initially contacting family and friends in an ordered fashion.

The yoyo between thinking of getting through it and what if I die. I did not ask my contact at the hospital what my chances were, hoping I could maintain a middle path of “What will be will be”.
Someone told me to be angry and smash plates, which I didn’t feel. I felt this is my life now, and so still enjoy it. At times I felt good, even excited at the intensity, and that bothered me too, as if I was too accepting of the whole thing. Not knowing my chances pushed me to try to be completely open to the future. To try to be ready for anything. Then my nurse told me I had a good chance, so now I’m more hope and less “zen” about it. But often still that little flicker of dread in the background. I have enjoyed making up a fantastic list of all the great things I want to do when I get out.

I have received some excellent guidance for how to handle this which I gone over and over.

I could die here. Strangely still something of an abstract thought. I have had a life four years longer than my Father, and a dear friend from the past died over thirty years ago, but somehow this sort of reasoning means nothing. So many of my (our) ideas about life are trite. I feel very grateful for the life I have had, so frankly I’ve not done a lot of feeling sorry for myself yet.

It is a challenge.

I look at people walking past on the street and they seem so confident, in control, almost smug about their lives. Assumptions. Entitled to being alive. I felt the same way recently. Now I am grateful for so little. Just sitting in the sun is great.

The social connections I have had in the last 10 days have been insane. It seems I am connected to so many great people, and have connected to some I’ve not talked to in years. At times this was draining, and sometimes I felt I had to “cheer people up”. Not be too heavy. There was a fear of isolation so maybe I was over extending myself in my insecurity to mitigate against that. Wanting to be normal so others would be normal. I’ve been phoning, texting, emailing, Facebook posting and messaging, skyping and plain old meeting for dinner. Although sometimes tiring, I think this is good. 

And I’ve had so many arrangement to make, it’s been busy.

Someone referred just now to my "Health Adventure", that seems good to me. Although maybe there is some denial in there.

Often very tiring. Hard to climb stairs without lots of hemoglobin to supply oxygen to my muscles. And often waking in the night, feverish, pillow and pj top soaking.

Got a close haircut to pre-empt the chemo hairloss, glad I did it as it's like the new me having some sort of control.

I have also gone out of my way to milk the situation for any humour I can. Again perhaps my insecurity and desire to not alienate people. To cheer them up and cheer me up. It’s been good, although I sometimes suspect people are being too tolerant of my jokes.

Thanks to all who have made me feel so loved. I am very grateful.

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