If you had told me last year that I would be this broken, I would not believe you. So how do we carry on? Resilience.
In cancer treatment, it was wave after wave of unexpected turning points that never seemed to have good news. Through it all, I played tennis somehow and found how to bring positivity to the hardest parts. I would count down the minutes till the pain medication would put out the flames of burning pain after cancer excision double mastectomy and simultaneous reconstruction. The broken body of no hair and losing so much of my identity as the 2 cancers took away my breasts. Emotionally, cancer took away my confidence. I could run difficult medical scenarios but when my feet kept being pulled from under me, cancer managed to take away years of leadership and control – what a sinister disease. No wonder there was so much fear and inability to find my way again in a broken body. I am not one of those who says they have a high pain threshold – I hate pain. I deal with it and visualize it’s end.( Though I did drive myself to ER with a ruptured appendix after a day at work….well anyway). Resilience is realizing that broken is valuable. How amazing to change the cancer journey after having been there myself. A voice from both sides. To be a patient. To be scared, really scared. To be human.
Now my body is broken in the fallout of cancer treatment. My hand is now out of the cast and pins but hurts like crazy, especially since I never reduce my work schedule. My hip replacement is just 7 weeks away and I have to do intense neuro rehab to get my balance and strength back which is hopeful but painfully slow. I am in the hand clinic bandaged in wax and putting pegs into little slots of dexterity to work my thumb again - arghh.
From queen of the tennis court to not even able to walk a block – crazy broken……….except in the water. The weightless beauty of water makes me feel awesome. I can’t fall over, the resistance is a perfect exercise and the aquafit classes rock! (I am definitely the youngest).
You can find a pool in most places of travel and when practicing in the pool in Florida on my vacation with my $5 noodle equipment, an elderly spectator asked if I was an instructor – made my broken body day!
Resilience is something we learn. It is post-traumatic growth. It is how you come through adversity still breathing on the other side and facing life with positivity. Finding the aquafit in your day when the broken body pain invades your working brain is hard core post-cancer training. We are the Navy Seals of post cancer treatment and I always wondered why we were called heroes. Maybe what people don’t realize is that is doesn’t end when cancer treatment ends. Post-cancer treatment fallout, physically and emotionally continues its effects for years to come. The radiance of resilience is contagious. We are valuable, even when broken just like the Japanese bowls of gold – repaired to be more valuable than when they were perfect!
PS. I had to update my profile picture - running 5K charity fundraiser is a long way away now. I just have to shine differently for a while.
At 47, I was diagnosed with simultaneous bilateral invasive breast cancers. My world as a busy mum and doctor was in a tailspin as I underwent bilateral mastecomies, reconstuction, node sampling then axillary dissection, chemo then hysterectomy after significant BRCA mutation results. I then helped family members through BRCA testing and the difficult decisions. I made positive thinking cards to help me out of every hardship, push me forwards. Finding balance is hard after breaking my arm twice since then - I have difficulty with the slow down part! I am so grateful to be back at work, able to help people through the emotional side that comes with cancer - from Both Sides.