I am angry. And I have been for a while.
I very rarely get angry and when I do, I seldom give into it, but sometimes it is healthy to let out the anger and frustration to give it a chance to ‘clear the air’ so you can move past it instead of ignoring it.
So I apologize in advance for the angry post that is about to follow.
My body and I are still not getting along. Even when good things happen (like being able to stop taking medication I no longer need), my body rebels. I feel like my body and I have been at odds since before my diagnosis, and in some ways my diagnosis was my body’s way of fighting back against the changes I had been making.
Changes to get healthier.
The year before my diagnosis was one of the most positive years in my life. I was doing very well at work, I was progressing steadily in dance (even transitioning from bronze to silver), I was steadily losing weight and that was having a positive impact on my body. I rarely needed medications, and I can’t even remember the last time I saw my doctor other than for a mandatory check-up since sorting out my hormone issues the year before.
I was full of positive momentum and charging forward with it. It wasn’t free of bumps in the road, but the bumps were easy to work through and I just kept overcoming it. I could even see myself reaching my weight loss goal and was only 25 lbs from it (considering I had already lost 75, 25 was really not much).
Then I found the lump in my breast and everything changed.
Suddenly, I had no control over my body anymore. Everything from diet to medications to hormones was taken out of my control and put into the control of my cancer diagnosis. I kept trying to maintain control by eating a specific diet, trying to stay active and doing as much as I could.
But it wasn’t enough. My activity level had to be reduced, medications (mainly steroids) that caused weight gain had to be taken, and chemo caused so many food aversions I couldn’t eat the things I had come to rely on in my diet and had to find substitutes. My hormones were thrown into complete flux, first because I had to stop taking my supplements, then chemo caused premature menopause (which also tends to trigger weight gain).
My body was abused, worn out, and eventually gained 35lbs I had lost (which I have been told is the average for chemo). After recovering from my surgeries and returning to work, I started working on me again–trying to take back control of my body–and get it back in ‘fighting form’.
But it hasn’t worked.
Over the past few weeks I have been getting angrier and angrier because I have put in a lot of time, effort, and sacrifices, but the result has been the opposite of what I expected. It just seems like every time I get just a little more control of myself, something happens to take it away from me. I get sick. I have to adjust medication. I have side effects from medications. I fall. I get injured.
The list seems to go on and on.
And I am very sick of it.
The withdrawal symptoms I started experiencing last week are continuing. I missed 3 days of work last week and will miss most of this week to try and give my body the chance to flush out the medication and get used to functioning without it again. One doctor said expect 3-4 weeks, another 7-10 days. At this point, I don’t care how long it takes, I want this over with. It is almost like the last hurdle I need to get over to really take my life back and it is like I reach the top of it only to discover there is still another summit to go.
I feel like I have been fighting to regain my life for more than 2 years now. And I am tired. I am angry. I am trying not to give up the fight.
I am trying to remember how good it felt to see positive and expected results from hard work. I am trying to remember what it felt like to be strong and confident. I am trying to remember what it feels like to be me–driven, motivated and full of perseverance.
Perseverance used to be my word. I might not be first or even second, but I was going to finish and I was going to do it the best I could knowing that the work I was doing meant I would be even better next time. I knew that because I knew if I kept doing my best every time, then my best would just keep getting better.
I don’t feel I can do my best anymore. I feel like that has been taken away from me. I know what that was and despite so much effort I feel like I am no closer to reaching the goals I was trying to reach before I got sick. And I am really angry about that.
I feel like I am doing everything I can to help my body get stronger and healthier and it is refusing to respond. I feel like despite all the work I have done in the past year, I am still where I was this time last year–recovering from radiation and shingles and preparing for the biggest surgery of my life.
My instinct is to try to keep fighting and force my body to cooperate as much as I can. But in the past 3 weeks, my trainer, my physiotherapist and my doctor have told me I am probably doing too much.
I am angry that the thought of slowing down and giving myself a break puts me in a panic. I am barely able to maintain my health and weight doing as much as I am–doing less sounds like the road to disaster.
I am angry because it is like cancer was a cruel joke sent to me as a message to tell me that I can’t reach my goals. That my goals are impossible and I am a fool for trying so hard and having faith for so many years. I have spent my life taking one step forward and two steps back and doing things people told me I would never be able to do.
I am angry because although my mind refuses to quit, my body refuses to cooperate. A part of me is almost wondering what obstacle it is going to present me with next as a further roadblock to my goals.
I am angry because I want to stay positive. I want to keep pushing. I want to feel like my goals ARE possible.
And I feel like that is out of my control.
I keep telling myself to be patient. I keep telling myself to remember that I have been through a lot. I keep telling myself that if I keep working, it will all come together. I keep telling myself to have faith and trust and just believe that it will work out.
But how long can I keep telling myself these things before I am living in a fantasy world instead of reality? How long is too patient?
I just don’t know if my expectations are unrealistic for the new reality in which I find myself post cancer. I feel as though I am constantly making compromises to adjust to the changes that have occurred, but I am also questioning at what point do compromises become giving in? I am angry because I don’t think I have anything left to compromise on, and the only options left to me is to give in completely.
I am angry with myself because I blame myself. Somewhere I didn’t do enough, didn’t try hard enough, haven’t been strong enough. I am not able to be the person I want to be anymore and I am grieving for that. I feel as though reality is telling me it’s time to give up my dreams and find new more reasonable ones. I am angry because I am not even really sure what those dreams were any more. My past hopes seem so naive in comparison with my current reality.
All of this may also be part of the withdrawal symptoms I am undergoing (anger is one of the symptoms listed), but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and it doesn’t change that I feel like I have been failing myself.
That is the hardest thing to deal with right now–feeling like I am failing. Every day I am not able to do everything I want to do and have to adjust or compromise I feel like I am failing. Like I am not giving myself the best chance.
Before I got sick, I was very used to doing things on my own. Too independent according to some people. While I was sick I had to learn the hard way to allow myself to depend on others, and as long as I was sick I was able to justify that. Now, I am no longer sick and in my head I feel as though I should be able to take care of myself again without having to rely on others. I feel like I should be able to work through things now without having to inconvenience others. But I am angry because I feel like an inconvenience to those around me.
I am also angry because I feel like too many of my posts lately have been about my health and less about dance. I am angry with myself because I feel like there has been a lot of negative coming out of me lately. And one thing I have never been is a negative person.
So, I am giving myself some time to just be angry. Time to acknowledge that I am angry about a great many things–some in my control, some not. I am giving myself a moment to feel bad and wallow a bit in self-pity and grieve all I have lost.
My hope is to be able to find within myself the courage to regroup once again. To know that eventually I will move beyond these withdrawal symptoms and when I do the future will be waiting for me to grab it and push my way towards it.
I just have to hang on a little bit longer.
Please forgive me for expressing my anger.