I will relish that calm after the storm when I leave that hospital knowing it didn't break me.
To my fellow Storm Troopers,
You will find the calm after the storm. I promise you that. Just remember this, make sure to let it in. And make sure that this is your prime focus. When you are done with your treatment, that doesn't mean you don't have healing left to do. I'm not talking about the physical stuff, either. You will always have physical remnants of having had cancer and fighting it hard.
But I am talking about that pain and those scars that come emotionally. If you are anything like me, those are the wounds that hurt the most. I can physically limp my way through just about anything. But what goes on in my head...that's a whole other story.
These are my wishes for you as I continue to work on them for myself:
1. You don't have to be an inspiration all the time. I know it helps; I'm the master of faking it until I make it. But it's OK to just NEED to be present with the true feelings you are going through — like anger, like fear (the worst kind when it comes to cancer) – and it's OK to just not be OK on some dayd. Your family, your friends, your tribe can be your inspiration on those days when you have no more to give. They have your back.
2. You need time to heal. If you can, and this can be extremely difficult depending on your finances, but if you can, take a leave of absence from work. I did not do this. Instead, I dragged my sorry ass to work one week after having an experimental inguinal lymphodectomy surgery. I could barely walk without a limp. I had drains hidden under my dress. And worse of all, I ended up with an infection. But, I continued to go to work in the hospitality industry with my painted, shiny face full of mascara, lip gloss and artificial hope. And I continued my job helping others find happiness and health while I died a little bit each day, continuing to just fake being OK.
Do you see my point here? I was like a robot, and all it did for me is just prolong all the emotional healing I would need later when my daughter was diagnosed with a chronic disease that led me to almost losing her. Even after that — after that ambulance ride, I still didn't learn. I should have taken the time away to heal. Don't be the person who stayed for a job that eventually would toss you away in the same manner that you tossed your health aside. You do you. It's that important.
3. But you should find something that takes your mind away when you need it. For me, that is running — and not any old running. When I head into my trails (they are mine in my mind, and I've even added my own paths to extend the run), I am alive. I am at my best. My head clears, I know what is right. I am me...broken, imperfect...but beautiful all the same. I find my calm after the storm. You can find yours. It doesn't have to be a physical activity, just something that lights your mind on fire. Gets those true positive juices flowing.
I will head into this summer, I am positive with a really big "no evidence of disease" anniversary. There will be no party, no cake. I may or may not even share it with people, depending on how I am feeling. But I will be there. I am positive this will happen, and I will relish that calm after the storm when I leave that hospital knowing it didn't break me. And though it has not been the most graceful dance with the devil, I have danced and survived. You will too. You will dance again to your own calm dance after the storm.