“Don’t subscribe to other people’s definition of “fun”. Fun doesn’t have to mean drinking, partying and socializing. Fun can be a night in alone, getting lost in a book, a deep conversation, a walk, creating art, playing music or doing your work!
Fun is yours, you define it.” – Steven Bartlett
Who were you pre-diagnosis, during, and after? I learned the most about myself throughout all of these stages. I no longer knew who I was, what I liked, disliked, or how to just be. I am sure we can all agree trauma encourages change. I believe that I could see that the previous version of me was no longer serving me purpose.
I didn't know how much I did and what I did because of society or social pressures. This is such a huge issue with the presence of social media. Families and friends living their best life online or so I once thought. Whether I thought it affected me or not, seeing perfect families, friends put together first thing Saturday morning with muffins and bread baking, at cottages, trailers, amusement parks, sports, and the list goes on and on. When you can't do all the things reality sets in.
Being forced to let go, Saturday’s were no longer filled with running my kids here, there, and everywhere, fancy dinner dates or weekends away dwindled, true friends, stepped up, and I placed new values on my colleagues and childhood friends who appeared like we hadn’t skipped years of talking. I was shown kindness and it didn’t have anything to do with what I was doing.
I am more introverted than most people would ever know. I am good at my job, I can work a room and build connections easily. However, I was burnt out… pre-diagnosis I didn’t realize that my constant “on” was making me ill. Wasn’t this how a full-time mom, also working 35 hours a week, wife, fur mom, friend, sister, daughter supposed to live. My life was fulfilling, surrounded by love.
During treatment and my 18 months of sick leave, I spent a considerable amount of time alone. During this time, even in my sickest of sickest moments, I could see that a life of stress and busyness also made me unwell.
I often wonder if the world has other plans for me, forcing me to slow down, encouraged me to re-prioritize my life, and myself. I am more content, I used to think we needed to travel more, take our kids to Disney – is life even life if you don’t go to Disney? Until I started to reset, I had no idea the pressures I put on myself.
Today, 2 and a half years later I have gone through some major ups and downs. Throughout my cancer journey, I was an open book, sharing and asking for help, letting others in and that was very new to me and my character. I was a hard egg to crack typically, not by choice. I guess you could say I wasn’t an over-sharer by any means. Something just clicked and deep down I knew I needed to let my friends and family support me.
As time goes on, I am in a constant battle of this. I started my blog a little over a year ago, I truly love sharing my story with those who need it. Being vulnerable is scary, but to know someone somewhere might read my story and feel hope keeps me going. I started an Instagram account and was also putting energy into keeping it updated and over time I slowly am starting to pull away. Finding my new comfort, what and why I want to share takes constant reflection.
I am settling in, finding my true self. Taking care of me, without feeling guilty or comparing my story, life, relationships to anyone. It feels good, takes work, and it is not a one-time event, it’s a journey and a long one at that. Not sure where it will take me, however, I like where it’s going. The freedom of being me, new me, or maybe it's old me with many layers removed. Removing those layers that once suffocated me, make it much easier to breath.
Don’t fight these feelings, cancer is no joke. It is life-changing, those affected will never be the same person they once were. Take it from me, the work you put into yourself is completely worth it. Be true to yourself, always.