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!