Here we are, a month later. I’m finding that time is going a lot faster now in the “Survivor’s Phase”. As much as we already know post-treatment about how precious time is, we don’t really notice how fast it flies until we really reflect on the past. That brings me to this month’s blog.
I left off challenging myself to allow myself to feel what it is that I’m feeling and face it head-on. Throughout treatment I’ve learned to become vulnerable – never was I as vulnerable as I am now because I believed that the safest way to make it through life was by being tough enough for myself, by myself. That isn’t the case when you’re given a cancer diagnosis. You need to rely on people, you need to let those in who you would least expect to be there, and you need to hold the door for those who you would expect to be there but are not and walk away.
Survivor’s guilt comes with a lot of emotions (as per my last blog). What I’ve learned to do this past month is to feel. Feel every emotion that comes moment-by-moment. It’s not easy because most of the time the feelings are unrecognizable – in the sense that I don’t know why they come when they come. I’m learning to slow down my thoughts so that I am able to recognize what triggers these emotions, if there even are triggers.
Family is very important to me and they have been a big help with checking in with me and making sure I voice my feelings now that they know what I’ve been facing. I am pretty good at sharing with them because we’ve made sure to keep the lines of communication open and I know it’s a safe zone with them. It’s not easy to voice emotions that are unclear, but talking about what I’m feeling in the moment sometimes helps others bring to light what I’m not sure I’m feeling. As a family, we’ve learned that this is the toughest part of the cancer experience: Moving Forward. Not only for myself, the survivor, has it been difficult to face emotions, but my parents, as caregivers, are finding it difficult as well. It’s difficult when I go for blood results and it’s also difficult when I don’t - the unknown is always scary but sometimes easier. It’s not easy to share these things as they happen, but we are trying and learning together.
I’m still learning to accept all of this. It’s not easy and I know that. But, being able to voice all that is going through my head with those around me who care about me is half the battle. As I’ve said, I don’t need to have it all figured out, and heck, I may never have it figured out. As long as I’m trying to face my emotions head-on with those around me rather than running the opposite way, I know I will be okay. It’s a matter of moving forward to my new normal but carrying my past experience with me as I learn to find myself.
We survivors will all one day be okay with this part of “The Journey”, but for now, remember: Feel it. Share it. Cry over it. Carry it with you.