I have walked down this long, drafty, hospital breezeway too many times; some times moving very slowly, such as during periods of recovery, and other times suffering considerable anxiety. Last Friday I walked away with resolute purpose. Moments before I had met with my thoracic surgeon to review my CT scans, which I am excited to share indicate that I am clear from any sign of cancer! As I was departing, a feeling began to spread within me, one I recognize–it was a realization that I am beginning to thrive.
Recovery for cancer patients is not simply a physical recovery, it is also an emotional, and a very much a mental recovery too, and these last two take much more time than the physical healing alone. I have come to understand from my own experiences that any trauma our bodies go through affects our whole system and it takes time and work for these to adapt into their new normal state. Patience is required of caretakers (my family) and of the patient themselves. If you know anyone that is recovering or in treatment, I highly recommend the book After Cancer Care, written by three oncologists.
I do feel pleased “with me” right now, in part because I have taken time for myself, and you know for the first time in so long, I feel I am starting to thrive. Yesterday, for example, I had been working on a piano piece to accompany my daughter and a friend. I have never been able to play for others without anxiety my whole life–not even during practice. After my cancer surgeries and treatment, I stopped playing all together. Yet today I played one whole song through without stumbling over the notes. All this time I just thought I was an untalented piano player who could not focus long enough to practice well. It was an overwhelming feeling to realize, “Hey, I may have some talent in me after all!” 😊
Before I started to take time for myself I was merely getting by, just trying to survive. As I am recently focusing more on caring for myself, not being self-absorbed, but taking the time to ensure that my whole system is functioning at it’s maximum potential, I am starting to feel that I am entering a thrive-mode instead of just a life spent surviving.
My take away from year number three is this: It is okay to love yourself enough to ensure that your mind and body are well cared for! If you are limiting yourself to just surviving, this is a sign that you may need to make time for your “whole person.” Listen, I know we have so many things to do and so many people that need us, but when we give time to ourselves we actually become more capable of giving to others in a way that is useful and helpful because we are well.
Taking time for my whole self is little by little helping me to become a better everything to everyone! Perfect? Not a chance! Not even possible–but better? Yes! Celebrate with me year number three! My heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who offered a prayer on my behalf.