Navigating greyness and ambiguity

It’s been just over 10 months since I began treatment and I’m back to a full-time workload. While I’m absolutely loving the work, I often feel quite tired, struggling to keep my eyes open and/or form cogent thoughts. This feels disconcerting and I find myself trying to assess and understand why. Is it: a) because I’m pushing too hard/doing too much, b) because I’m adjusting to working at this level again, c) because I’m not taking care of myself well enough, d) a side effect of treatment, e) a progression of disease, or f) a combination of the above? In short, I want to know why I’m feeling this way: what is the cause? I’m also concerned about unintentionally progressing or escalating the growth of my cancer: how will I know when it is too much and how my health and well-being will be compromised? I would be lying if I said this doesn’t scare me.

The truth is, I’m navigating relatively new terrain; I don’t really know what “normal” feels like for me. I’ve always been a relatively high achiever/performer who pushes through to get things done, and I don’t really know if and/or how this grit and intensity contributed to the development of my cancer in the first place (I’ll never really know for sure). I suppose part of me worries that my work-life-school balance was a contributing factor, and I’m feeling apprehensive to push too hard, too fast or too quickly; rebooting my cancer into a more active state.

Fortunately for me follicular lymphoma is a relatively slow growing cancer, although it is not yet medially “curable.” As such, the medical research indicates that I will likely undergo treatment multiple times over the course of my life, yet the duration between treatment cycles is relatively unclear: it could be 5-6 years, 6 months, or 10+ years. I want to do everything I can to prolong the time between treatments and I’m not entirely sure how.  This too scares me and in some ways it feels more scary than the initial diagnosis itself. I want to have control over the situation, to prolong the need for treatment again AND it doesn’t work that way: I can’t control how things evolve (aside from taking care of myself that is)!

And so, moving forward amidst this grey vagueness and ambiguity, I find myself acutely aware and concerned about my choices and actions (or inactions) and how they affect my health and overall wellbeing. This too is a tricky place to navigate because worrying could potentially expedite the cancer growth. Somehow I’ll muddle my way through, yet I’ll also likely carry a hint of wonder or doubt, questioning my every move. While I’m grateful for the learnings, I also realize I may have found my life’s work: to learn to relinquish control and freely navigate the grey!l!

Happy thanksgiving everyone! Thank you for being you!




  1. Isabel

    I just read this now and it struck home … completely … I have no answers, but one more thought to throw into the pool of grey. Total remission is possible, at any time. So hold in your heart and mind that possibility at all times, along with the anxiety, questions and not knowing … :-) … I believe you can instinctively/intuitively work your way to remission by holding that possibility. You are now, already, intuitively feeling your way to healthful, balanced living (trust you are doing that!), so … it’s only adding one more outcome to your matrix … not only the desire to stave off the lymphoma advancing more quickly, but actually healing completely!

    I love you! Sending a huge hug!

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thank you darling Isabel! xo


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