I am my own worst critic. Nobody can disappoint me more than I can disappoint myself. People say “you’re too damn hard on yourself.” This would probably be true, however, I actually think that being tough on yourself when you have cancer has major benefits. Nobody was ever truly successful without pushing themselves and being a little hard on themselves right? I do think my constant need for doing better in life has kept me going and will hopefully keep me going for a long time yet.
Being headstrong and determined are key ingredients for the stage 4 cancer cake. You gotta keep pushing through or the cake will just sink and fall apart when the knife of disappointment cuts in. Being this way probably doesn’t affect your overall survival, but it does enable you to have more happy days. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t fall apart sometimes and it’s definitely ok to spend a few days in bed eating pizza not wanting to face the world, but it’s what you do after you’ve been feeling low that truly matters and defines you.
Standing back up again and regaining strength is what makes the world seem ok again. I know it’s not easy, and sometimes it feels like we are knocked down too many times to even fathom how we are going to get up for the 594th time. Believe me I’ve had so many meltdowns and lost count of the times I’ve told everyone I’m done with treatment. At the time I genuinely mean it. I wonder if I’m alone with this: people tell me to keep going, and I quietly judge them and feel a bit angry. They have no idea what this is like living this life. It’s so easy for them to say that although I’m sure it’s done out of love. (I never claimed I wasn’t impossible sometimes).
Talking of meltdowns, yesterday I had an epic one at the hospital because of impending scan results. Not because they weren’t going to be pleasing results I knew they would be, but because I knew there would still be visible cancer there and this thing would still be very real. Ludicrous right? Angry at facing my reality that I try so hard to avoid. This is where my being tough on myself can be detrimental to dealing well with this stage 4. My targets are unrealistic and pretty much impossible to achieve. I read somewhere that complete remission happens in 1 percent of cases, and even then probably in cancers less widespread than mine. I can’t change aspects of my personality i.e. being too tough on myself wanting to achieve the impossible, but I can learn to celebrate small pieces of great news or even the tiniest of achievements because with cancer you simply must. For us tainted with the mets brush, good news can be infrequent and it often feels like there’s not much to celebrate.
Although my cancer hasn’t all gone, it has reduced a lot each cycle. Much of it has shrunk or completely disappeared. The oncologist says this is great news and thinks that with my type of cancer I will live for years which I couldn’t quite take in. Nobody can say for sure, but my team are always so upbeat with me and never talk about the d word. So you know I said I had finished chemo? Turns out that as I’m doing so well I can have more. My choice, but it might mean the cancer will stay stable for longer once I’m finished meaning an average of 18-20 chemo free months. So I’ve decided to go for it. It’s just another six weeks out of my life. Then let’s see what happens after that.
There is a moral to this post. It doesn’t matter what happens along the way on your journey, just that you dust yourself off and always have that little bit of fight left in you. Oh and yeah; mourn the shit stuff but also celebrate every little victory because sometimes it’s easy to forget to… X