Saturday, April 1, 2017

A(n Almost) Two Year Update

You will be pleased to know I have moved back into the 21st century, and I now have internet at home. The lack of internet was also my reason for ignoring this blog for nearly a year... so I figured I had better post now that I am left without excuse. Thanks, Google Fiber! (And no, that's not sarcastic. Internet at home is basically life-changing. I have so many more options!)

It has been exactly 23 months since my final round of chemotherapy; in one month, I will pass the two-year mark. Recently, I have decided I am really and truly "back to normal" (yes, I know it is for the eighth or ninth time, but this time it's for reals!). What tipped me off was that I could spend a whole afternoon shopping with my sister - after a morning of being on my feet at choir rehearsal - and have fun without needing a week to recover! And then my interest in doing optional activities skyrocketed... and I have started wanting to do things that require emotional investment. That has been kind of strange, to be honest. It's been a long time since I've had emotional energy for optional stuff. I am still figuring out what to do with this newfound capacity. :-)

I should probably also note that having emotional energy for optional stuff only happened after I worked through the emotional aftermath of treatments and recovery. Around the same time I realized I was physically "back to normal", there were a few months during which I had to work through some significant (for me) anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms. Getting my annual physical was a stressful experience; going to the dentist to get cavities filled was even more difficult. After some searching and studying, I discovered a few things that helped tremendously: daily guided meditation (I use an app called Headspace), and expressing my anxieties and asking for what I think will help. Doing the latter helped me to feel like I was acting and not just being acted upon - and the experiences were better as a result. The former is so good for me, it's helping in multiple areas of my life, not just with anxiety. I highly recommend it.

It is interesting to consider that when I meet people now, they won't know by looking at me that I once had cancer. There are a whole pile of people in Arizona who only knew me when I was sick. There is another set of people here who met me just as I was finishing treatments, and who have watched me recover. But now, my hair is long enough to look intentional, I am back to my old self physically and emotionally, and there are no obvious signs (other than a few scars and tiny tattoos) that would indicate what has happened to me - which is good. I have moved on. Cancer doesn't define me, and never will. It was a defining experience in my life, to be sure, and was a sacred time of learning and growth, but my identity is distinct from that experience.

So I guess this is my way of saying to the cancer experience, Goodbye forever. I'm sure I'll find new ways of progressing now.

In other news, spring has sprung in Utah, hopefully for good this time, and I am looking forward to warm days and sunshine. That said, I also should admit that I spent much of the afternoon coming up with good reasons why later was a better time to start working in the yard. This year I have decided that I don't really want to do all the work my yard requires, so I need to choose which parts to hire out and which parts to ignore. I have a feeling there won't be much left to do after that. :-) It sort of makes me wonder why I bought a house with a yard (instead of a condo with someone else who does the yard), but it's too late now. I'm committed to this neighborhood. So, here I will stay. Dandelions and all.