I have to admit I’ve never been very good at listening to my body. When I sense signs of weariness and/or tiredness, I often continue to push forward until my body screams stop. In short, I haven’t always been so great at hearing my body and giving it the rest and care it needs.
This has begun to shift though in the last couple of years as I have created more space for silence through meditation, body work, art, and nature-based activities. Through silencing the mind and connecting with myself I’m learning to hear some of the wisdom that rests within. And, while I have several examples to help illustrate my learning, there is one example that feels incredibly profound in this moment and I would love to share with you.
Several weeks ago I woke up from a dream with a strange feeling or sensation that the cancer was gone. The feeling lingered, and while I “heard” it, I was scared to believe it. I didn’t want to give myself false hope. Then when my neturophil counts were low and chemo was delayed a second time, I felt a similar sensation. It was if my body was trying to tell me that it had had enough chemo and it was time to stop.
In response, I asked my doctor for a CT scan too see the extent of the chemo response. When the scan came back it showed “minimal disease.” It was then time to decide if I should proceed with the remaining two rounds of chemo or not.
I spent several days pondering how to proceed, and tried several activities and exercises in search of “my” answer. For example, I loudly shouted out “I’m continuing with treatment” and “I’m done with treatment” and listened for my body’s physical response to the statements (Note: When I said I’m continuing with treatment, I felt a wave of nausea run through me). I kept trying to figure out the answer, all the while knowing that I knew what to do.
On Tuesday morning I again awoke with a profound sensation of knowing: It was time to stop chemo and continue with maintenance therapy (two years of immunotherapy administered once every three months). I emailed my oncologist and his response was encouraging. Given the results of my scan he was happy with this decision yet wanted to consult with other oncologists before moving forward. When he presented my case on Thursday, the oncologists were also in agreement. They felt I had responded very well to chemo and it was unlikely that further shrinkage would occur with further treatment. (Note: there is only one very small node remaining). They also felt that less treatment would save my bone marrow from the toxicity that can accumulate with chemo!
In short, I am one happy gal! I truly listened to my body and what it had to say AND it was reinforced by a group of oncologists! Today I feel empowered and strong.
Thank you to each of you for your support in making this decision. I feel so deeply blessed to have such an incredible network of family and friends. You have inspired me and encouraged me to look within. I am deeply grateful!