I keep saying that I consider myself lucky for a variety of reasons. My lack of side-effects is definitely one aspect of this process that I am very grateful for. I kept my hair (although I didn’t really care about that). My nausea is manageable. The fatigue is getting worse, but it is also under control. I don’t have mouth sores or much pain. The Neupogen shots suck…but again, bareable.
Oh yeah, and I have a curable cancer and I’m in remission. And that’s been pretty good news, too.
As I continue through the treatment process, one part of me that I realize has been suffering some pretty major side effects is my brain. Or my mind? I don’t really want to get into figuring out the difference. Let’s just say – the chemo has affected my ‘thinking bits’.
Its called ‘chemo brain’ and I finally looked it up on the Interwebs.
Difficulty focusing? Check.
Difficulty multi-tasking? Check.
Periods of fogginess? Check.
Depression and anxiety? Check.
Feeling that I’m being hunted by the Care Bears? Not chemo related, just something left over from my childhood.
Between my mounting fatigue, my wandering brain, occasional bone pain and all around having cancer – I’ve been trying to cut myself a break.
The meditation classes are teaching me to live in the moment – not worry about the past (“Boy, did this summer suck”) or worry about the future (“How many more chemo sessions do I have?”). But focus on what’s happening right now. Which, if you pay attention to the present, it usually isn’t that bad and really you should stop your complaining because your co-workers are tired of hearing about it anyway.
My goal has always been to come out of this better than I came into it. Stronger. Better. Healthier.
I’ve already felt the effects of my heart opening up more. For friends and family. The kindness of strangers. A deeper appreciation of how fragile life can be. And I can’t even describe what my heart feels for the woman who has held my hand through all of this.
But one thing I’m only starting to realize is that my mind might be stronger for going through this process. If only because I’ve had to explore its weaknesses.
The pain I feel in my body has been manageable. But the weaknesses I’ve felt in my mind are less fathomable. After all, its my mind that keeps walking me through the door to the doctor’s office. Its my mind that wants to punish me when I’m too tired to blog or write or take photos. Its my mind that goes from foggy to lucid to muddled all in one afternoon…but always manages to find its way back again.
I’m looking forward to having my mind back. I think we make a good team. And I’m looking forward to putting it to good use soon.
Now that I’ve gotten the call that I’m in remission and I’m starting to focus on the next steps in my treatment, I see there’s plenty of time for work and problem solving and creativity coming soon.
For now, there’s a lot of Facebook Scrabble to play, movies to watch and sunsets to appreciate. And I’m okay with that. I’ll cut my mind some slack.
Because soon, its back to business.