Patricia Brown Clinic
|Posted on May 29, 2016 at 7:40 PM|
To keep yourself at your physical best throughout chemo, it is important to try and keep a grip on your emotional wellbeing. It has been proven that a positive mental attitude helps in the cancer fight, you want to put all your energy in to beating the cancer, so don't allow your body to run on high stress levels as this will have a negative impact on your physical health. They are plenty of clichés when it comes to cancer and lots of people will be quick to tell you its a journey, its a rollercoaster, its a lonely place...
I have to admit and I hate the clichés but it is something of a journey when you look back on it, a rollercoaster? Sort of I guess. Lonely? No, I didn't find this. I had a good support network and I could of had a fit and done the 'you don't understand' but I never felt the need too, just because those close to me weren't going through the physical side of cancer they were still going through the emotional side and to be totally honest it was probably worse for them than it was for me, and I was always aware of this. Its a strange feeling but when you have cancer, for me anyway, I stopped thinking about myself, my concern was everyone close to me. All I had to do was go the hospital and have my treatment, but they had to see me going through it and that was worse. I was glad it was me with cancer over those I loved, because it was easier to have it myself than it would of been to watch them going through it. I never really felt a loss of control, like some people say they do, we are all different. I think I was so determined that my cancer journey was going my way that I took control where I could by defying what you associate with cancer, taking the chance I was given to save my hair for one. But for this I didn't just do it for me, I did it for all those I loved because I knew for my parents, my partner and closest friends it would be far easier for them to see me how I always had been to them. I didn't want to put them through seeing me lose my hair, it would of been probably the most traumatic part for me and I knew it would be for them so my choice to save it was just as much for loved ones as it was for me. My parents and partner had to see me go through chemo but we had a laugh each time. I understand that they must of felt out of control, because I would of done if it had been any of them. My determination to stay so strong wasn't mainly for me, it was for them because I wanted to make it as easy as I could on them. They had to go through it with me, be at the hospital, watch me having chemo, but I then got to go home and chill out with boxsets for a week, they had to handle the emotional side then carry on working full time. My partner handled so much with working well over 40 hours a week, stress with his dad's ill health, family things in general but he still managed to be strong for me, he never faltered with that. One chemo he had to leave me with my mum, rush over to A&E and rush back to me as soon as he could. He never moaned, he did it all and towards the end of my chemo's I really realised how incredible he handled it. I found that sitting around the few days after chemo didn't suit well with me, it just made me feel a little rough and sluggish. So if my partner was off or on a later shift we would go off out somewhere, when it was quiet so I wasn't mixing with lots of people. He would always think of ideas of places to go, and would wake up full of enthusiasm each morning and have a plan of what we were doing, which I think is amazing considering how emotionally exhausted he must of been, at only 28 too. So just try to keep in mind of those around you, appreciate that you are all going through the cancer experience, don't get angry, stick together and fight it together.
Getting out when you can really does help. That feeling at the start to me of been like a prisoner in your own home for months was the worst, but it really isn't like this! Be sensible, it's not worth putting your health at risk however boring it may seem but adapt to still live your life around chemo. With each chemo there is usually a time when it hits your immune system and it will be at its lowest, try not to mix in large crowds too much then. This was why we were in Starbucks at 7am some mornings! It ended up for me, that I was very lucky and it didn't effect my immune system but I was still careful not to take this for granted and was just sensible over things. Of course cancer can be a time where you have to watch the money with one of you been out of work, but it is also a time where you start to appreciate the simple things in life too. We would get out with our dogs, been in the fresh air works wonders for you anyway and gentle exercise is recommended while having chemo. The chemo sessions early on that fell in September, if it was a warm evening we would call a chip shop and go have a little picnic in a park and walk round the park afterwards, there were so many simple, little things that we did, that we ended up both enjoying. I found having animals helped, I know some people may get rid of their pets at first sign of any problems in life, something I don't get anyway but I found mine were a good distraction. I think it is good anyway, whether it be through pets or children, to have someone else to take care off, someone else to think of other than yourself.
Try to keep some routine and don't cut yourself off. You may have times when you would rather be alone, but if this is becoming a regular thing, try to change the habit. If you have worked full time and suddenly find yourself at home and having to sit around the house, this can take some adjusting too, most of us like a routine, so just try make yourself a new one. I would in general rest the few days after chemo, if my partner was off, or parents I would get out and about. With chemo been on a Thursday, usually by the Tuesday after I would be doing more. My friend, Miss J was always off on a Tuesday so it became our routine to do something while her children were at school. Now confession time, our original plan was to every Tuesday go somewhere for a walk (that would be my gentle exercise) and stop off somewhere for a herbal tea. Our actual Tuesday mornings involved a full English breakfast, sometimes a cake too or looking round the shops when it was quiet, or I 'd go to her house, which still involved cake! But it was getting out that was the main thing, still socialising and seeing people you love. To be honest cancer rarely come up, there was far to much of our usual gossip to talk about, there wasn't the time to talk cancer! Another friend, Miss B, we would meet up most Wednesdays after she finished work, again it involved food usually, we would go out for tea or she would come mine and we'd have a girly night, even though one of these nights after chemo I got through plenty of the Swizzlers sweets and Lovehearts she had bought me (another craving) and then I fell asleep half way through the film! But again we didn't talk about the cancer often, there was so much more to talk about! I've known these two since my teens and when you go through growing up together, the trivial things like what to wear for a night out, boy troubles, one having babies, one moving countries for awhile and back again you just know each other inside out. I think during cancer you feel most comfortable around the people that know you best, that have known you since you were young because you know that they get you. You don't need to explain things to them, you don't need to have deep, meaningful conversations, you can just be yourself and you appreciate them all the more for them been themselves too. You just know that if you do need them that there are there without question.
I did manage to work where I could too, of course job dependant and your consultant will advise you on what is the best thing to do workwise. For me, even though I work with my mum, the beauty and wedding make up is my side of things. It takes years to grow your customer base and reputation and been in a service industry, I was definitely concerned about getting out of the game for awhile. If anything this was the only thing that led me to feel angry about the cancer experience, the effect it would have on my work. But where I could I worked, I was sensible, I didn't do full days and I didn't push myself and just knew to do what I could mange easily but even just going to work for a couple hours, it brings you a focus and some normality.
When I was diagnosed, I didn't want anyone knowing really. I hate admitting to a cold, think the episode in FRIENDS when Monica refuses to admit she's ill, that's me. So I really did not want admit to cancer. But you realise that there is no way you can get away with having chemo for 6 months and covering it up with excuses, with working still my regular clients had to know. You do find once people know and have seen you, it gets far easier. Everyone is worried about that first encounter, once its out of the way, they see you look fine, it's easy. I had told people closest to me who I couldn't avoid telling. But everyone else, I didn't say, client wise not everyone needed to know. For other friends and family, it was no disrespect to them at all that I didn't tell them. It was mainly because you don't want to worry people. People mostly think the worse when you say 'it's cancer' so I didn't want to deal with a emotional overload of telling lots of people, them been worried, me been worried about how they have taken it, filling lots of people in on how I was getting on, while still getting my head around it myself. The nice thing was when I did tell them, I got to also tell them the good news that I was in remission. Yes it came as a shock but it was far nicer to be able say I did have cancer but I'm ok now. Most clients know now too, its easier. You find if not with just general chat you cant just gloss over the last year, make excuses, you just find your lying about everything. So know I am happily open about the fact I had cancer, its such a huge part of your life, you find you don't want to dismiss it anyway, you want to say yes I had it and I did it. You also begin to realise that people take inspiration from your story, that what happened to you can help other people.
So while you have too, just live your life with cancer in it. Stay you, stay doing the things you like as much as you can. Try to do something nice or enjoyable every day. Listen to your body, rest where you need too, but don't become a depressed couch potato, get out into the world and live! Cancer will only be in control if you let it, just change your frame of mind and picture yourself the one in control. At the time I didn't think of it has having cancer, I was just Rocking Lymphoma for awhile
Categories: Cancer and Me