I feel like each time I blog I need to apologise for my lack of posts. Since my health is great (obviously other than the tumour’s – LOL) there aren’t ‘weekly updates’ that would be of any point to blog about. I would be writing “today I feel good”, “today I still feel good” over and over, which isn’t very interesting and is misleading because by the looks of my scans what’s going on in there isn’t “good.” Another reason why cancer sucks and is almost always a shock to the person diagnosed – you can live so normally and feel so healthy and be on your death bed.
Healing myself alternatively isn’t similar to being treated by traditional Western Medicine. I don’t have follow up appointments to check progress (unless I request a scan) so there’s rarely any news to update everyone with. I keep a diary, for my personal emotional outbursts, which after reading over a few days later I’m GLAD I didn’t publish online. Journaling keeps me sane, but the dark thoughts I write down are not appropriate to share, and I believe would hinder my healing if I constantly dwelled on them. I get them out on paper, out of sight, out of mind, and try again tomorrow.
There’s a saying “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Every night that I break down, I pull myself back together and I try again tomorrow. It’s a process, but I am getting there.
I’ve been reading a book by Elissa Goodman called Cancer Hacks: A Holistic Guide to Overcoming your Fears and Healing Cancer. I would really recommend anyone who is health conscious in the slightest to read her book. She speaks to the general public, not just those affected by cancer, about how to minimise toxins and get the most out of natural and organic foods.
Elissa covers all the bases from food, to sleep, to cleaning products and cosmetics. She also recognises the need for emotional stability found via self reflection, meditation and yoga. Elissa had cancer herself, and lost her husband Marc to Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. She constantly refers to the different approaches she took in comparison to her husband, and she believes this made all the difference, and why she’s still here today and he unfortunately isn’t.
One thing Elissa writes about in her novel is about remaining positive and processing your emotions (I’m finally getting to the point of this blog post.) Whilst she recognises the importance of processing your bad emotions and not suppressing anger, fear or sadness, she highlights how imperative it is to remain strong and focus on the silver linings. Initially I wanted to write a post about ‘5 things I appreciate’ but I already doubled the amount just thinking about what I would pick. Instead of cutting out those ‘not so important’ points and expanding on those that were I thought why not include them all? Anyone who’s ever seen me write an essay, blog post, letter etc knows I don’t draft or plan (which is usually my downfall according to my University tutors) but for me there’s nothing more real than a thought in a fleeting moment, and nothing more permanent than capturing it.
So at 6:23pm on Monday the 19th of September, these are some things I am grateful for, since relapsing with Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma.
- I am grateful for the chance to embrace open-mindedness
My whole life I have been surrounded by people who are open-minded. We all have differed opinions about the definition of open-mindedness, the people I’m talking about when I say it are those who break conformity and differ from the norm. I’ve always respected other beliefs in regards to religion, lifestyle choices, etc, but I’ve always gone about my own ways unchanged. Once I went to a seminar led by a vegan who argued the importance of quitting coffee. He said caffeine was a drug and all you had to do was go off it for 2 days and realise the symptoms you experience are associated with drug withdrawal. I was so compelled by what he said that I went off it…. and lasted a week at best. Going back to your old comfortable ways is easy, but to embrace foreign information and really research it and consider that it may be factual is a challenge.
One example of something I’ve embraced that I never would have before: I went to a spiritual based meditation. VISIBLY uncomfortable, I felt I had walked into a cult. Everyone was dressed in white and there were thousands of crystals and pictures of Jesus, Mother Mary and John of God. I was frustrated and didn’t want to be there; still full of many feelings of anger about my situation and felt very “why me?!” but I did it and felt 1000x better afterward. Since then I have realised how important it is take time to meditate, trust in a higher power and to delve into practises that may be out of your comfort zone. I have always believed God had a plan for me; but at the meditation we were told to “place our fear on Jesus’ altar” which is now something I do whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Another is that of eating 100% organic. It sounds really easy – until you try it! I’d always had people telling me to stop drinking soft drink and energy drinks because they were no good for me but until you actually do some research on how good, whole food fuels your body, you think food is just food. You have to be open-minded to accept different methods of cure and of being healthy, which is a skill I’m grateful to have adopted.
- I am grateful for my family and friends
This one may seem very obvious, “of course you’re grateful of your friends and family.” I have always loved my friends and family, as does everyone obviously, but there is nothing like turmoil to really pull off the veil and show you who’s there and who isn’t. Everyone has really banded together to show me how supported I am and how loved I am. Even when I was trying to make a decision on what to do, no one swayed me in any direction, they all just agreed they would support whatever I chose and then we would make it happen. I needed money for alternate treatment and they donated funds, and encouraged others to share and donate also. They check on me every day and they make me feel loved and important, when they ask me “how are you feeling today?” what I hear is “I love you and I want you to be okay.” I am beyond grateful for every single person in my life.
- I am grateful for sunshine
When was the last time you stepped outside, sat in the sunshine, drank a cup of tea/coffee and read a book? I’m guessing for most people you see the sun on your way to work, or as you’re rushing to hang the clothes on the line before you leave the house. This was me as well, and it seemed like such a pointless and unproductive thing to do. I now obviously have a lot more time on my hands, but taking even just half an hour out of the day to sit in the sun gives you such a large appreciation for the Earth. Being Australian we have a lot of beautiful weather, nature and landmarks that we take advantage of because we are so used to it, but if we take a second to slow down and realise how crazy amazing our Earth is, we really can appreciate how rich we are.
- I’m grateful for patience
I am always moving, always thinking and always worrying. Anyone who knew me when I was little knew the basket-case of anxiety that I used to be. I hated change and felt so anxious to the point where I would vomit if something so little as a school excursion was happening the next day. It was embarrassing back then, but less embarrassing to admit now. I had what’s known as trichotillomania, a disorder where I used to pull out my eyelashes from stress and anxiety, and saw a hypnotherapist who helped identify the emotional issues I was dealing with and helped me find confidence. I grew out of this, but never of being worried and being impatient. I hate to wait, I think everyone does, it’s just the society we are in. Fast food, constantly updating news reports, and newsfeeds on Instagram and Facebook that don’t stop refreshing – it’s a wonder people wait for anything these days when you can get a different version of it in just one second that’s more convenient. At the moment for me, there are no fast answers. For a while I was feeling my lump every day, hoping that it would feel smaller, then grasping onto the hope that it did, and then worrying later that day that I was wrong and fooling myself. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s early days, no changes would be visible yet, and any change that would be significant enough to show treatment is working or the disease is gone wouldn’t be seen until I requested a scan in a few months time. Although I am still learning to be patient, I’ve learnt to let go of worry – to live presently and let tomorrow sort itself out. At the end of the day I can’t control what’s happening to me or what’s going to happen to me. If the disease takes me down, it’s going to do it whether I smiled and enjoyed my day or whether I spent the day crying and scared of what dying is like. Dying is scary – SO SCARY – but worrying about it is like walking around with an umbrella on a sunny day waiting for it it rain: unnecessary. I’m looking forward, toward the future with an open heart and mind, hoping for the best, and being patient for some good results.
- I am grateful for the lessons I am learning
I’ve learnt so many things that I feel 10 years older and wiser and I’m grateful that I’ve been put through yet another challenge and adversity where I’m forced to grow and mature. This gives me hope that I’m here to learn, not to die, and to teach others and inspire people to love life. Here are some lessons I recognise:
- You don’t need to wear makeup EVERYWHERE
Somewhere between my love of makeup and obsessiveness of wearing it I allowed myself to become insecure without it. I would apply makeup even if I were just walking down the road to the post office. Most people feel a little embarrassed and colourless without makeup, but I felt downright U-G-L-Y, and this was not healthy. Being forced to be chemical-free most days I wear nothing at all. I bought some fruit based makeup from http://www.100percentpure.com.au/ that I can wear guilt-free some days when I go out, and for special rare occasions I’ll wear regular makeup. Not only does it eliminate toxins but it gives my skin a much needed break and I have much clearer and healthier skin for it.
2. It’s okay to rest
This coincides with my impatient and worrying mind that must always keep moving otherwise I feel I’m getting behind and failing. Some days you should sleep until midday and some days you should go to bed at 8pm. Sleep is the silent healer that everyone forgets about and I’ve had to learn how to stop my FOMO (fear of missing out) and do what my body needs.
3. Small trivial problems are such a waste of time
Everyone loves drama, I always have loved to be in the middle of a fight or gossip session as it’s going down. I watch Real Housewives of Melbourne, Aukland, Atlanta, Orange County – you name it – and half the coffee dates and catch ups I have with friends begins with “OMG did you hear?!” or a screenshot of a snapchat that shouldn’t have been sent. But when it comes to actual drama when you’re fighting with someone and it’s genuinely bringing down your vibe and causing you to worry and be stressed you need to let it go and realise the only poison you’re causing is a personal one. There will never be another day that I waste complaining about something irrelevant or beyond my control.
Although these things may seem small, they’re certainly relevant and are something I hadn’t learnt and truly appreciated until now. Everyone would be different when they take time to stop and appreciate the finer things in life. Maybe you hate the sunshine but you appreciate fresh air, so you slip outside half an hour a day to appreciate the Earth in another way. Or perhaps you’re already very open-minded and you don’t need to learn that lesson; I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason (obviously.)
All I’m saying is please don’t wait until you’re sick to fall in love with life, when there are so many, many things to be grateful for.