Let’s look at the stages of life as fields. As you go through life you walk through the fields with a backpack on. You need a backpack for all the things you pick up along the way. By the end of each field, your backpack is heavy and you will not be able to cross into the next field unless you let go of some of the things you have accumulated. You need to discard the bad and keep the good. You need to have space for the next field and all that it will bring you.
Anna, you have cancer
This life changing statement of fact, happened a year ago today. As a result this last year has been a field in its own right, and I have definitely picked up a bit of baggage, that I need to sort through and clear out.
I hear those four words loud and clear like it was yesterday, but it also feels like a lifetime ago.
I feel the same person while at the same time, I don’t always recognise myself.
The last four months, of no treatment and getting ‘back to normal’ have been harder, in many ways, than any other time. That is because this has been the processing part of it all. The ‘f*** that was massive’ realisation of it all.
The statistics from the Cancer research UK website show how more and more people are surviving cancer. Wonderful, fantastic, amazing news!
What this means is that more and more people are living with the impact of cancer and having to find a way to deal with the physical and emotional scars that it leaves behind.
I have found it really hard to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am finding things tough. This is because I feel terrible for feeling this way, I am drowning in guilt about how I feel, because I am one of the lucky ones. I have the results that everyone hoped for and so many medical staff worked so hard to achieve. So how can I now, after all that, be feeling anxious and overwhelmed?
Without a doubt I am more than happy and grateful to be better. However there is a new, unique, sense of fear that has entered my life. The arrival of the emotion uncertainty. Is my cancer gone for good? Can I plan and talk about a future? Should I worry about a pension? 😂 Or is it lurking in the shadows waiting to come back? So many questions and so much doubt.
“Uncertainty is a very stressful feeling, and it’s making me anxious!”
I have been trying to get on with, and get used to, this new emotion over the last couple of months. It has made me anxious, tearful, freak out a bit, loose confidence and struggle to make decisions. Once I admitted to myself I was struggling and identified that all the above was driven by uncertainty I was able to accept it. I now need to put steps in place to learn how to live with it.
I don’t want to look back in 5 years time and think ‘If I hadn’t been afraid, the past 5 years would have been fantastic!’
I want to look back and say, ‘I have really lived these past 5 years, even with all that uncertainty’
So it is time to empty out my backpack on this very strange anniversary, and climb over the stile to the next phase of life. Emptying my backpack by
- Leaving behind the guilt surrounding my new companion
- Accepting that uncertainty will bring difficult emotions, that I will deal with.
- Going to a few ‘what now’ cancer support sessions
Make sure you empty your backpack frequently. Do not let yourself forget that your current situation is not your final destination. None of us are the same person we where a week, a month, a year ago. We are all always growing and changing through the experiences we have on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. That is life. It’s wonderful to be part of it ❤️