You’ve finished treatment after treatment, you’ve dug deep every single day and fought so hard to become this “new normal”. I used to have some sense of what my life would look like, I got used to being a certain level of ill, but now there is no longer a map. So what do we do now?
Celebrate? Check ✅
Why? Because we have to celebrate the small stuff. Well, to me it’s huge. But it can seem small. These changes we are faced with, may not seem like much at the time… but when you add them all up, it’s a miracle.
But let’s go a little deeper, you’re so used to being in fight mode, you forgot what it is to just ‘be’.
Where did the old you go? What did you used to do for fun? What do you do with your new body? How do you adapt to the new lifestyle you must create for yourself? Do you reconnect with lost friends now that you feel a little better? It’s so much to take in, we’re so used to just being sick. We forgot how to take care of ourselves. We let it define us.
We forgot who we are.
Well I’m done with all that. I’ve done a lot of soul searching and I know how important it is to not ignore everything I’ve been through. It’s important to acknowledge the trauma, make peace with it, embrace it even, and start to live!
I realized that even though I’ll always be terminally ill, I’m still thriving!
This is not to say I’m suddenly better, that my fight is any less hard. It doesn’t get any easier unfortunately, but it does become different. How we adapt and perceive our world… that’s where the difference is. I’m not suddenly doing cart wheels and off my medications, I’m still going to have to do more grueling treatments in the near future, I still feel like sh*t. However, that glimmer of hope is just a little bit shinier, and I’m just a little bit more fab!
This comes with a whole new set of challenges, as listed above. One thing that really set in was survivor’s guilt. This is a very real and very heavy topic that I think should be brought to light.
You were dying, so close to death. I know I was personally on my death bed, doing treatment after treatment, hoping and praying to miraculously become better. Except I wasn’t, I was withering away with each pill, each injection, and I was slowly dying a painful death. One attack at a time. I watched friends pass away with this disease, and wondered when I would join them.
Now that my health has taken a bit of a turn, I often feel guilty that I can start enjoying life again, little by little… while others have lost theirs. Why me? What did I do differently? What makes me so special?
I’ve come to realize we can’t think this way. It’s not good for our health, or our recovery. It doesn’t do anyone any good, but it’s easier said than done.
For those of you who feel overcome by that guilt, we have to channel our new found glory into positive things. Things that will continue to change us and make us remember who we really are!
So what have I done to get through my journey? What are the things I’ve challenged my new self to do? How do I thrive after treatment?
1. When I was at my sickest, I used to not be able to go anywhere except doctors appointments. That was my life, but I didn’t want it to be.
So I would glam up to the fullest, just at my house, and take pictures like I was doing my own fashion show. It gave me confidence and made me feel less sick.
Start taking care of yourself..
I know you might feel sooo much better than you did, but there’s still a long way to go.
2. Rest. This may seem easy, but it’s actually quite hard for most of us to admit we’re dog tired. Our bodies have been through hell and back, it’s OKAY to be tired. It’s okay to spend all day in bed. We’re mentally exhausted, physically exhausted, I’m exhausted writing this. So it’s okay, please, go ahead, take a rest! You deserve it.
3. Reward. This is where the fun starts, it actually can tie into rest depending on how you decide to do so! What did I do to reward myself? Well…
Take your dream trip.
You know the one, the one that got you through every needle, every time your head was in the toilet, every attack that hit you full force and you had to go to your “happy place”, where is your happy place? The place you’ve looked up online and priced out a thousand times but never thought you’d be able to go.
Again, it’s not to say I just woke up one day and jumped on a plane. Being terminally ill and traveling is hard, but being terminally ill and doing ANYTHING is hard. Don’t let that stop you! Make the effort to prepare, plan, and conquer. It’s worth it. Take the precautions, but let your hair down. You earned it. It will be life changing, I promise.
4. Reconnect. I found that when I started to raise my head from the fog, I didn’t know who I was anymore.
We’re often defined by our jobs, kids, or our illness. We forget who we are at our core. This is everyone, not just sick people. We have to do a little shake and say, “who am I now?” How do I describe myself? I did this in a number of ways. I’ll touch more on this later, but it took me a while to get my groove back.
We also need to reconnect to the ones we love, my husband and I have played caregiver/patient roles for so long, sometimes you forget who you really are to one another. You have to put in the effort to get to know one another again, just like you are getting to know yourself. It’s a lot to take in all at once, which is why you do it in steps, over time. Make it fun!
What did we do to reconnect?
Well, we allowed ourselves to get intimate again. We went back to basics. I started to date my husband again.
Dinners, talking, cuddling, impromptu mini trips, dates. All things we used to do, all the things that made me fall madly in love.
Who doesn’t want to keep falling in love over and over again?
5. Regenerate. This ties into reconnecting, we can’t reconnect until we take care of ourselves. Our emotional and physical well being needs constant care, and to do that you need to think outside of the box. We’ve been through absolute hell, it’s about time we give our bodies the break it deserves.
Go somewhere you can let loose, soak up some good vibes, go on those romantic dates I talked about, reconnect, regenerate, relax! We did all of the above at my favorite resort Esterel. I went here for the first time when I was extremely ill, I couldn’t enjoy much of their services.. but it didn’t stop me. I couldn’t wait to go back and jump in to all they had to offer and just pamper myself. I find a Nordic spa is magical, and I recommend it to everyone – no matter what condition you’re in! There’s ALWAYS a way to enjoy. We came back so re-energized, and just … happy.
6. Reintroduce yourself. So this brings me here, I’ve asked myself throughout all this, “who am I?” I needed to do something to reconnect with who I AM. I realized I just wanted to feel free again. I don’t want to be defined by illness, but it is a big part of me. We need to learn how to live peacefully amongst each other, accept it for what it is without losing ourselves completely.
So who am I? I’m a 29 year old warrior, thriver, who worked my way to a point where I can say that my life is stable. I am someone who didn’t let any obstacle get in my way, I’m compassionate and have learned how to feel intensely for others as well as myself. I realize I owe a lot of who I am to this illness, what it’s given me I’ll never be able to describe. Who it’s made me is someone I’m fiercely proud of. I’m a woman who is finding her strength every day, with my scars and battle wounds to prove it. I’m someone who’s slowly building her confidence back, each day. I’m not going to let anything get in my way of happiness, and I still feel joy everyday. Every. Single. Day.
How do you celebrate your new found freedom? How do you reconnect with yourself?
Well I did something a little crazy, I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to make this new me official, I wanted to feel who I am today.
So I did a special photo shoot, I want to keep making memories and documenting each stage of my journey. I went to Nuovo artistic photography and talked to them about what I wanted to convey, and I never felt so free. This part is when I became empowered again. This is where I leave behind the pain, the grief, the uncertainty, and just live.
7. Forgive. You have to learn to move forward, forgive the cancer for making your life what it is. Be who you are despite the illness, forgive anyone who made you feel any other way. They don’t understand. Don’t blame them. Just forgive. Make peace with your circumstances, make peace with yourself, make peace with a higher power.
8. Routine. We have to start a new routine, get our lives back on track. My life used to consist of wake up, take meds, go back to sleep. Eat, take meds, sleep. Take more meds, sleep. It wasn’t much of a life. Again… I’m not saying I’m NOT still doing that lol! I’m still sleeping a lot, taking my meds, eating, and repeating. But I’m adding in things slowly to my routine! I’m eating even healthier, I’m trying to prepare my own meals sometimes, I’m going for walks. We meditate every single day. Slowly but surely my routine is changing, and it feels wonderful. Remember how I said it’s the small things that feel huge? Well, these are my small things.
So, this is how I thrive. All sorts of ways to make me feel like me, and get to know those around me all over again.
Cancer is hard, but losing yourself is harder.
9. Recommit. Commit yourself to change. Recommit to anything and everything. I’m looking into complimentary therapies, sound therapy, reiki, etc.
I sincerely hope that this inspires you to make your change, get to know yourself, reconnect with those around you, and just start living again.
Remember, no matter where you are in your journey… life is still happening all around you. Don’t let it pass you by.
Pheo VS Fabulous ❤️
Like, SHARE, follow!
Facebook: Pheo VS Fabulous