Breast cancer battles continued. By Spring 2007 I was deeply depressed. Sometimes even the sound of my own voice on my hypnosis recordings or the words I was saying would infuriate me. So I took a break from the tapes. I turned to using Alpha Waves more and, gradually, over the months, I could listen to the tapes again. Prayer and meditation became best friends – I was grateful they had been friends for a long time and comfortably stayed at my side.
But there were some rough moments, as well, as many wonderful days. The pain from surgery scars, the itching and tickling under my skin was unexpected. I had a lack of feeling in my fingers, on the surgery side, causing me to drop things at unexpected moments and then I developed tendonitis in that wrist.
So much of this (or all) was unexpected. I guess what I’m saying is that, at first, you think you just have the surgery and a few treatments to get through, but months later you realize that there are many side effects that cause discomfort and they can go on for a long time.
These battles would take longer than a year.
Yet, as time passes, you have this feeling that you are really more ready then ever to join the human race again, to step back onto that path of Life that has been going on around and beside you while you have been distracted. I kept in my mind those words "this will be what you do for the next year" and that year was drawing to a close. Yes, struggles though I still had, it did feel as if I was just about through my “year” the doctor had predicted. That year was becoming my past, passing away into a memory as I moved forward.
It was an exciting feeling - I had won. I had got through. The sun shone brighter!
I looked forward to my annual check-up in the summer (don’t you dare ever miss one!) and breezily marched off to take my tests and even, fearless of mammograms again, smiled and chatted my way through another.
Fearless and foolish. Oops.
A beautiful day, a beautiful evening with a glowing sun, warmth all around, that particular Friday was. I was, once again, looking forward to babysitting my granddaughter who was now 5, when the phone call came. I was surprised to see it was an evening call from my doctor’s office but I had no premonition of what was to come.
The mammogram results were in.
The test results were not good. Later I was to find that two areas looked suspicious for Breast Cancer.
Hadn't we been here before?
I was stunned. My bubble burst. This couldn’t be happening
again. Not again, and only 1 year later. How could it not have shown up in the
first mammograms? It was a huge blow. I can still after all these years picture myself with the phone to my ear leaning over the desk. It felt as if my brain had exploded in my head. As if that sudden storm had started up again and all the leaves and twigs were flying round my head.
Too stunned to cope with anything at the moment, I picked up my camera and went out into the garden to take pictures. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for digital cameras. This was another trick I used during the toughest times – or just for the heck of it. Let me explain.
One of the reasons hypnosis works to relax us, lower our racing heartbeats, and calm us down is that it “distracts”’ us. It puts our focus on something else. It distracts us out of the here-and-now busy mind, busy day. As it distracts us and we relax into the soft words and music, we are able to accept the words and suggestions. So it is with anything that requires our focus and attention.
Photography, serious or not, requires us to look into a small window and see a selected portion of the world. Our vision narrows, our perception narrows, and left to its own devices, our body is allowed to relax. It was just another form of self-hypnosis that got me to a place where I could replace the racing thoughts of fear with words of strength and comfort.
Not having a very robust garden, I have many pictures of the wild roses that always seemed to thrive. You’d be amazed how many angles there are to take pictures from when you just don’t want to stop.
The other “trick” about that is the connection with Nature. There is something so eternal, so ongoing, so solid and enduring. Natural is just always there for us. the very essence of life and death, of a love beyond what we know.
This time I had a fine wire biopsy – and whether it made any difference or not – the doctor could only find the one spot. Nothing as serious as the first, but I was clearly told, you have no choice. It’s surgery again.
I was lucky in that the surgeon I was sent to had once been a guest at our local Breast Cancer group (sponsored by and held at the Plastic Surgeon's office) and was very supportive of breast reconstruction. He said now is the time to decide, yes or no, if you want reconstruction, but also what kind of breast reconstruction.
When I first arrived in Kelowna and met my new doctor, she immediately put me on the waiting list for a plastic surgeon but told me I would have 2 years before I could get in to see him. So that meant I had over 1 year left to mull over all the options and make up my mind. Instead now, I had a matter of weeks.
We were back in the rounds of doctor appointments, tests and examinations.
Let's just talk for a minute about any battles we have, not just breast cancer battles.
Some days, like when the results of my first year follow-up mammogram were not good in September 2007, I would pick up my digital camera and do a walkabout in my own backyard, taking pictures. Sometimes, it’s best to regroup before you face the next battle.
With breast cancer battles it may simply be that you are going to hear something you don’t want to hear – but you have to do it. It may be an appointment you have to go to and it’s taking all your courage to get out the door. A battle may be not allowing information overload to crush you permanently. (That’s why you need a buddy to go to all your appointments with you.)
Brest cancer battles that revolve around trying to be upbeat, tolerant and brave when you are
nauseated, in pain, have mouth sores and body aches, can’t sleep, your hair falls
out and your head is aching with cold, your eyebrows disappear and you hardly
recognize the person in the mirror, your finger and toenails become discolored
and misshapen, your skin dries out no matter how much cream you put on it, or a
myriad of other side effects. Who is that person in the mirror. And how do you get clothes to fit?
And that barely touches on how alone you feel.
For some young moms breast cancer battles may be about your children who need you and you can’t help them. You can’t run and play, you may not be able to buy them a gift or take them where they need go. The biggest battle may be the guilt you feel that they are not having the childhood they deserve.
A battle may be that you have just had someone you love get mad at you for something you can’t help. Or someone has said something mean or insensitive.
Other common breast cancer battles may be that your money has run out, you are going into debt, you can’t afford some of your medical needs.
We all know the breast cancer battles when your memory is affected by chemo or you are simply too tired to think; thoughts may be there but are
difficult to form into words but nobody understands this.
A battle may be that you are tired and people think you just need
a nap and then you’ll be back to normal. Tired stays for a long time.
A battle may be no food in the refrigerator and you are too tired to shop.
A battle may be hearing someone’s trite cliché comments about you and your experience with breast cancer (of which they know nothing) and not crying right then and there. (Maybe you should)
A battle may be overcoming the urge to slap someone (I heard someone say she wanted to do that) who
suggests you look on the bright side! (I'm that nauseating type of person who always wants to find the silver lining)
I know - and I know that you know - that none of these are small things. They won’t be going away anytime soon. Your whole life has been changed. And change is hard.
But…sometimes we simply need, absolutely must, look at something else to give our minds and our emotions a much needed break. Use your mind. It is the one thing we can control. (You think you have no control over your many thoughts but you do, you really do have control) Don’t expect that you can just think of something else necessarily and, like magic, all will be well. No magic formulas, no easy ways are here. But with persistence, with true intent, it will work.
The trick is to focus on something other then what you are experiencing with breast cancer right then. (Like taking photos) Make your thoughts go somewhere else.
Here's a rough plan:
Step 1: Stop your current
thought. Just put up your hand and say "STOP". Go where no one can hear you, like your closet - done this - and yell if you have to)
Step 2: Go where you want to go. It requires a decision on your part. You have to make a choice.
Say to yourself. This is horrible. I need to go somewhere else. I will go to my sanctuary. Then look at a photo or painting, listen to some healing music, work on a jigsaw puzzle, step into your garden or tour your house plants and talk to them. You know what I mean! Anything that helps you to step out of the present moment and into another is looking on the bright side.
As I have mentioned I often listened to visualization and hypnosis sessions that would distract me, but some days that can be too much of an an effort. Just that 5 minute walk in the garden may soothe you.
When you are facing your own breast cancer battles, please understand that when I say "Looking for a bright side" it's not same thing as the well-meaning but maybe also insincere person who bleats “Always look for the silver lining” at you. (Sorry if I ever said that...that's how my mind works...oops)
When those breast cancer battles loom large, looking for a bright side might mean that while you are sitting in a chair when you are too sore and too exhausted to get out of it, you start to notice a ray of sunshine streaking through the window, and let yourself think, “Look at that exquisite ray of sunshine, look how it sparkles through the crystal I hung in the window, look at all the lights flashing around me and the cat trying to catch them (silly old thing thinks she’s a kitten), look at the dust floating through the air, who cares about dust, what a wonderful world this is right now, right here, and for this moment I get to sit here and see it in all its glory.”
Just let yourself go somewhere else for a few minutes and for that few minutes you are not thinking of …nausea, fear, pain and any of your other troubles and worries. For a moment, you can have a little rest in a better place.
More on all of this later.
Send me your comments or very short stories if you would like. I may edit them for length and will publish them when I can. No cursing allowed. I mean, you can say it if you must but I can’t publish it so, please, edit it out before you send it. Cursing only brings negative energy to yourself and others. This is the place to share your story, not to vent. There are some excellent groups to join where you can vent.
Share your heartaches; shares your triumphs.
Breast Cancer Prayer At 4 P.M.
Be well in whatever way you can.
And know that you are loved. Somewhere out there, someone is thinking about you.
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