From Out of the Weeds
Everything is great.
Counting All the Blessings. All the time.
These are just a few of the lies I tell as a cancer survivor. And that's not to say that things aren't often great. But just like anyone else, there are some days I'd rather slap the return label on it and ship the whole thing back to Amazon HQ...amIright?
As a cancer survivor, there is pressure--sometimes spoken, sometimes implied--to be so grateful to be alive that we're no longer entitled to the actual depth of living. You know, the good, the bad, and the ugly?
And sometimes, surviving cancer is downright ugly.
To borrow an analogy from my Support Group, the end of treatment is The Summit. You've scaled the mountain. Hurrah! It took a year to get there, give or take. It was the most arduous journey of your life.
And then...what, exactly?
Can we expect ourselves to return to the trail head with the snap of fingers, the ringing of a bell? To be prepared to get on with it already...the very. next. day?
Nope. The decline is a journey in itself. A journey requiring time, energy...acknowledgment.
There are currently few solutions available for the after-effects of cancer treatment. After-effects like fatigue and lymphedema. I know women with ongoing neuropathy (I, for one, cannot feel my finger tips). Women with joint pain. Women who cannot have sex without pain. We're left with body image issues, ranging from scars and breast removal to weight gain, to hair that never comes in quite the same. Chemo brain. Fear of reoccurrence. And sometimes depression.
Yet, still the pressure.
When bumping into a casual friend at the grocery store..."I'm good."
While sipping wine at a party..."Loving life!"
Wrangling a tantrumming preschooler..."My cup runneth over."
Writing a survivorship blog..."All the blessings."
And the truth is, all that carpe'ing your diem on the way down the mountain can get heavy.
I decided not to carry so much of it on my own. I recently started therapy.
Because lately, my descent has felt over grown with weeds. As I told a friend yesterday, I've felt pretty stuck. Physically. Emotionally. Creatively. Lymphedema is seriously impacting my quality of life. My schedule revolves around physical therapy appointments. I spend over an hour every night with my arm squeezed into a pump. And the compression sleeves? Oh, how I hate the compression sleeves! I've stopped enjoying some of my favorite hobbies because using my hands leads to increased swelling and sometimes pain. Yoga, same. I can't get motivated to lose weight, even though I know a healthy BMI impacts both the lymphedema and my risk of reoccurrence. And I'm so tired of being tired. Like I said...stuck.
Which is why I've been pretty quiet at the Pink Door House. From my viewpoint in the weeds, there's not much that feels fresh enough to share.
Yesterday, as our Littles played in the yard, they gathered up a "bouquet" for me. They discovered one sweet, resilient hyacinth poking up through the gravel, and brought it to me surrounded by a handful of dandelion leaves.
Weeds, really. But so fresh placed in a pretty glass on the counter.
I've been trying hard to clear the weeds in my path. To find the perfect balance of self care, both emotionally and physically, that allows the best version of me to shine on the way down the mountain.
If you've ever tried to clear weeds, you know how very resilient they can be!
But this sweet little bouquet got me thinking...maybe it was never about clearing the weeds. Maybe it's about learning from their resilience, and learning to navigate the path in spite of them. About acknowledging my weeds...appreciating the pretty ones and looking past the thorny ones.
After all, even dandelion leaves are supposed to make a decent salad, right?