And you’re invited.
Adventures? with cancer? I hear you say. Lady, are you insane?
Quite possibly. So, are you coming!?
It’s actually not as crazy as quite a few other things I’ve done.
In fact, I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time.
Want to know what I think are the hardest things about having cancer?
Feeling like you’ve been shoved off the train at some empty, grey, featureless station, in the rain, without a packed lunch or a friend, while everyone else gets to stay on the train and keep going somewhere sunny, fun and exciting.
Feeling like you have all this new information about the world and the kinds of things that can happen to people, and feeling like you see everything and everyone in a new light, but everyone keeps encouraging you the best thing will be when you can to “get back to normal.” And you don’t even know what that is anymore.
It’s how you spend a lot of time feeling like you have nobody to talk to about how you feel and what’s happening to you – nobody that is, unless you count the people who love you more than life, and are scared out of their wits wondering if you’re going to die or lose bits of yourself or just never be able to cook dinner again. You see the terror and anxiety in their eyes, and you smile and always fix your face when you go out. Then there are the poor folks who are so abjectly terrified of saying or the doing the wrong thing they stay far, far away. Oh, and then there are the other people who you get to see quite a lot, but who are only really interested in discussing in intimate detail the thing you wish with all your heart and soul you didn’t even have – the cancer. They poke and prod you, call you by the cancer’s interesting name and hardly ever even look you in the eyes. They will be the ones who you come to rely on to get you through this physically….but you know, and they know, you’re more than just a body with a disease. But what can they do? Their job is to problem solve the cancer, not your freaky, messed up emotions which caused you to scream at your mother in law yesterday and cry when your neighbour popped in with a lasagne.
Cancer isn’t so much a battleground as is it a real place with it’s own language, rules and geography. Like a really long, really intense summer camp. Or perhaps a concentration camp. And just like those kinds of camps, sometimes we get to go home at the end, and all we need is a good hot meal and a shower and a clean set of clothes, and we’re all put right as rain again. But then sometimes we leave, and it takes a bit longer to be okay again. Sometimes we leave looking and feeling more like refugees. Sometimes we leave there physically, but we can’t leave in our heads. And sometimes, we don’t get to leave at all.
Cancer is hard, it’s lonely and there is more than one way to be “sick.” We can be heart sick. Soul sick. Brain sick. Friend sick. Cancer can hurt us in a plethora of ways, other than the obvious physical ones. I know, because I got all these kinds of sick when I had cancer, and more besides. It took me a while to find my “new normal”, in amongst the ruins of the old one. I learned a lot in the time. I learned about friendships, and marriage, and hope, and hard work, and holding on and letting go. I learned about dying, and I learned about living. I didn’t get to die, so I made sure I’d get to live as much as possible before the opportunity comes around again, because it will. But it won’t catch me waiting around, I can assure you. I’ve got too much to do.
When I had about ten kinds of sick because of cancer, I needed someone who understood what I was going through. More than I needed those old cliche’s, more than I needed to stay positive, I really needed someone who would sit with me and tell me I wasn’t broken because I felt and thought that way – someone who could say “Me too.” I knew the next best thing I wanted to hear was “I’m here.” It was hard for me to find that kind of help, because many of the folks who’d been where I was had kicked out running and never looked back. Many of those folks who’d been through cancer didn’t want to go back in and keep talking about cancer and being amongst people with cancer, because getting better for them meant leaving that world behind. But I knew I needed someone who didn’t just read about the ten kinds of sick I had out of a book. I needed someone who understood, someone who’d been there.
I think that was when I made up my mind if I ever got out alive, I was going back in for the folks like me.
I’m now offering my services as a cancer coach and survivorship navigator for those journeying through cancer and treatment, who need someone who can say both “Me too”, and “I’m here”. I’ve spent years since my own cancer went away training and working in cancer supportive care, health promotion and event organisation, and writing about my experiences and what I’ve learned and know. I want to help you as you journey through this. In listening to and supporting you, I’ll help take the pressure off your loved ones, because I know they are as helpless and anxious as you are. In fact, if they want to, I’ll listen to them as well.
If you’re interested in my face-to-face cancer coaching and survivorship programs and services, click here for my new website.
If you’re interested in online and remote cancer coaching and survivorship navigation, email me at email@example.com
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