By: Katie Austin
While battling the big “C” four years ago, I quit doing almost everything. I put all that I loved to do aside so that I could focus my energy to rid myself of this demon. After treatment was over and I was declared to be in full remission (applause!), the challenge for me was, what next? What am I going to do now with my life? Will I ever be normal again?
What I discovered is that I was so focused on fighting my cancer that once the treatment was over, I wanted to jump right back into the pool of life and do EVERYTHING that I had stopped doing. I got back out onto the competitive volleyball court (physically wasn’t ready), worked long hours at the computer and went back to college (mentally wasn’t ready), and put aside all of the emotions that come with fighting cancer. I was able to keep things going for a few years, myself going all the time and everyone around me thinking that I am happy, doing well and on the road to a complete recovery. What I didn’t see coming happened this year.
Sometimes it takes just one situation to bring everything to a complete stop. A good friend of mine at work recently passed away from cancer. I was devastated. Two years ago, when she returned to work after beating colon cancer the first time, we would spend time talking about diet, foods we found that helped to offset the side effects we were experiencing, and how excited we were to be in remission. I hadn’t seen her for almost a year after her cancer came back. When I heard of her passing, I collapsed at my desk, in shock, as I couldn’t believe she was gone. I wouldn’t be walking the first lap of next year’s Relay for Life with her. Our talks were gone. My friend was gone.
I went to her funeral the following Sunday to say good-bye and remember the beautiful spirit that had come into my life. This was the icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the card on the house of cards that would tumble everything downward.
I was depressed. I wasn’t happy and I had to stop long enough to allow myself time to heal. Plain and simple. I hadn’t dealt with the emotions that come with fighting cancer and the fear that it could come back that will be with me forever. I needed to find out what my new normal was.
“If you are always trying to be normal,
you will never know how amazing you can be”
I am making small changes to my diet, adding exercise to my routine, and staying active. When those emotions come out, I allow myself time to process them. I am re-prioritizing things in my life so that my focus is where it needs to be. My health was farther down on the list than I thought it was. How can I do all the things I want to do if I am not healthy? What was I thinking??
What I learned is that life after cancer is a process. I am not where I want to be, but I have to be ok with where I am right now. It’s about taking small steps to make small changes that will become lifetime changes. More to come on this in my next blog post. 🙂
For those fighting cancer, I am praying for you and sending many well wishes your way! Remember to stay in the moment and allow your body time to heal and rest. Remember that this is a process. I wanted to share a link from the National Cancer Institute (below) that found to be helpful in my healing process.
Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every Woman Blog!
~ Katie Austin