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What I would tell myself during treatment

While talking about some of my darkest moments during cancer treatment, my therapist asked me what I would say to myself if I was able to talk to her (me) in that moment.

I would tell myself that it’s a hard, scary road but I DO get through it. From the start, I was told I would get better, but that is so hard to believe after so many complications and things going wrong during chemo. I wasn't that afraid of the cancer - I always felt confident that treatment would be effective. Rather, I was afraid of not feeling like myself ever again - both physically and mentally.

It felt like this magical moment when I would start feeling better again kept getting postponed and pushed back, so I feel like if I had known that it would take about a year after chemo and surgery for me to really feel like myself again, it would have given me something more tangible to look forward to.

If I could talk to myself during treatment, I would give her snapshots of what life would look like in a year - it’s different, but it’s good. A year ago today, I wish I could have seen myself now - going to the gym, traveling, starting a new business, eating normally, spending time with my husband, friends and family.

However, healing isn't linear, and it doesn't have a set timeline. My timeline won't be your timeline. There may be delays and bumps in the road that extends it, or it may happen much more quickly than for me. It's impossible to know. Thats why I love the part of the quote above that says, "By grace, you made it here." It makes me think about how my favorite author, Brene Brown talks about grace. She refers to the hymn Amazing Grace and the line "It's grace that taught my heart to fear." She says how too often, we don't know how to be afraid - we resort to becoming controlling or mean, trying to be perfect, shutting others out, or running away and hiding. She says "Grace is the thing that whispers - it's ok to be afraid...The most meaningful things...have all be born of fear and vulnerability."

I wish I had known then that those feelings of fear and vulnerability - while awful and uncomfortable in the moment - would eventually bring so much meaning and beauty into my life. It allowed me to connect with my personal support system, allowed me to open up and share my story with others, allowed me to build connections with other patients/friends/family with shared experiences, and inspired me to fundamentally change my career.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Who knows, if I was ever able to tell myself these things back then, I may have just rolled my eyes at myself and gone back to watching the Great British Baking Show 🤣

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