Warrior Pose

Day 16, cycle 1. It’s rare for me to write posts two days in a row, but I find myself with some unexpected energy in these last days of the chemo cycle. More energy plus low immunity means that while I’d love to see people and finally have the energy for visitors, I really can’t risk it. And I’m still not feeling like talking on the phone. Thus, more time to think and write.

I’ve been thinking today about what it means to be a warrior and what exactly I’m fighting. Sure, I’m fighting cancer, that wily adversary, and most days that takes everything I’ve got with nothing to spare — making sure I eat, sleep, take my meds, exercise, get to doctor appointments, monitor my surgery sites for infection. But there are other things I’m fighting as well, most notably depression, because make no mistake, cancer is depressing as hell.

It doesn’t help that I spend most of my days alone, with a bit too much time for negative thoughts to swirl around in my newly bald head. I probably don’t have to explain the nature of those thoughts. So what helps? Here’s what’s getting me through — nothing earth-shattering, but the combination seems to be working so far:

  • Friends and loved ones. You have no idea how much those random texts, memes, and emails mean, to say nothing of the gifts, especially if they are silly or distracting. Plus the mere fact that you are thinking of me reminds me that I’m not alone and that you are helping me fight from the sidelines.
  • Walks in the park. Nature and some exercise remind me that I’m still part of this world even if I’m not seeing a lot of humanity these days. Plus it has a bit of the meditative quality I truly miss from swimming.
  • Massage. A lifesaver. My massage therapist is making special arrangements to sanitize the space so I can come even when my immunity is low.
  • Reminding myself of my good fortune. I have treatable cancer. It was in the early stages. I have great medical care. There is an end in sight, albeit months away.
  • Distracting literature. Well, literature might be a stretch these days, but anything from a good trashy novel to true crime does the trick, with the occasional higher-order fare so I don’t feel as if I’m losing brain cells as well as cancer cells.
  • Distracting TV. Oh man, have I come to appreciate Dr. Phil. Nothing like my mother is dating my son to remind me that my problems are fairly minor. It was a good sign this week that I was tiring of Dr. Phil. I’ve also become addicted to A Place to Call Home, an Australian version of Downton Abbey — all five seasons of it, just lovely.
  • Adult coloring, needlepoint. Nothing like a good compulsive repetitive task to keep me in the moment.
  • Cooking. When I have the stomach for it, it’s a way to take care of myself and my husband, plus I enjoy it.
  • Clearing out closets. Nice to throw out junk and reorganize things. I had the energy for ladders and schlepping this week — clearly an “end of cycle” task.
  • Writing this blog. This helps in ways I could not have expected; it keeps me grounded and focused.

Ready for battle, depression. Fuck you, cancer.

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