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  • Mer Monson

Aftermath



Been holing up for a while to let the mental and emotional dust settle. The weeks since finishing chemo have been surprisingly intense - lots of body pain and a handful of mental and emotional volcanoes. It feels like I'm processing what happened to me at a level I couldn't get at while in the thick of it. Many in the cancer world have relayed it's normal to find myself in rough waters post chemo, even up to several months. This helps. And thankfully, I've also felt some relief and deep unclenching of physical and emotional places I didn't even realize had been holding their breath for months on end. This space has a whole different feel than chemo. Rather than a countdown and stream of adrenaline to get me through it, the view from here is of a long slow climb toward looking and feeling like myself again, tainted by the once-in-a-while thought of "I could get knocked down again before getting all the way there". Last week I had a doctor tell me it'd be two to five years back to full health. I threw that belief in the trash within five minutes of hearing it, but it'll take some time and a hefty dose of self love to walk through and out of the overwhelm. I’m tired of cancer. I’m tired of thinking about it, hearing about it, talking about it and looking like it. Several months ago, a cancer survivor told me it was a year before she woke up in the morning without her first thought being “I had cancer.” I get it now. Despite the overwhelm and exhaustion, I’m becoming aware of the subtle yet deliberate creation of a healing space in and around me - one I can relax, rejuvenate and come back to life in. Exercise helps. Meditation helps. Sleep and quality food help. Good novels help, and walking with Steve or watching my boys play tennis helps. Playing word puzzles on my phone helps. Massage and therapy help, and learning to enjoy and trust my body again helps. Surrendering the future and making friends with menopause helps. Writing helps, and giving myself large doses of love and encouragement helps. Yesterday in yoga we did a pose with a big long self hug in it and that helped an amazing amount. I've discovered it's even easier now to say no when I really want to and that helps too. I've also been blessed, just in the past few days, to encounter women who are all the way from two months to 40 years down the road from where I sit. A welcome injection of hope. I picked up a tennis racquet for the first time last week. My legs felt like tree trunks, but it was really great to feel like me again. Hitting a tennis ball, I realized, does the same thing for me as hitting the old car door with a bat. I gave myself some kudos for subconsciously finding a way to improvise. On a particularly rough day, Steve made a list of things I can look forward to and cross off as milestones. Glad to check off “getting my port out” this week. It’ll be a while before I get my first haircut, but I am enjoying a tiny layer of fuzz all over my head :)

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