I saw a cancer counselor today.
That’s a hard sentence to write. It was easier to write it, though, than the sentence she made me try to say, “I had cancer and am a survivor.”
I couldn’t finish the sentence. I couldn’t say survivor. When asked why I can’t say that word, why I obviously dislike that word, I talked about how it makes me angry when I see people say someone else “lost his/her battle with cancer,” as if there’s fault on that person.
It all unraveled from there. My anger at cancer. My anger at myself. My anger at myself because cancer happened to me. My anger because I blame myself because cancer happened to me.
I have some concrete strategies to work on my thinking, to work on my scumbag brain, to work on the negative spiral I’ve trapped myself in of “what if the cancer comes back and I destroy those I love the most because cancer happened to me and I die of it.”
First, and hardest for me, I have to work on giving myself permission to do things that bring me happiness or calmness, like right now. I’m curled up in bed listening to Christmas music on the radio. I told the kids it’s leftover night for dinner and to have at it. I don’t get to feel guilty about that. They’re fine. They like leftover nights.
I have to give myself permission to accept the fact that research shows it takes your body upwards of a year to heal from cancer treatment, for the fatigue, memory issues, concentration problems to get better. I don’t struggle with concentration, but the memory issues and fatigue kick my tail. I have to accept it’s as much a part of recovery as the physical part of recovery. It’s okay for me to be fatigued. It’s not okay for people to be upset with me for being fatigued or to say I should be over this.
The other thing the counselor asked me to start is a gratitude journal. I’m to list three things I’m grateful for each day. I can’t repeat anything on my list. The goal is to eventually get to where it’s hard to make the list and force me to dig deep.
Nothing was earth shattering or something I don’t necessarily know. The thing is, though, there’s a disconnect for me right now between my head and my heart. These strategies are supposed to help me bridge that disconnect so I can find my happy again…to consistently find my happy again and to stop living on the cancer merry-go-round I’m caught on. So…I’m going to try, really try, to give myself permission to be happy, to shift my thinking. At this point, I have more to gain than lose.
Today’s gratitude journal:
1. A for loving me no matter what
2. AJ for his zest for life
3. S for her giant heart