Releasing my own expectations and plans has been a difficult part of my own cancer journey. I had worked hard to build up my reputation with my employer, and I was proud of my accomplishments. I had my own expectations for my life and what would happen in the future. After my cancer diagnosis last year, my life began changing rapidly.
My body and my plans went awry, so to speak.
During cancer treatment, you learn pretty quickly to roll with the punches. Depending on the results of scans or reactions to medications, the direction of treatment can veer around the corner into a new neighborhood, leaving you wondering at the scenery.
My latest tour through the unknown was my reaction to Tamoxifen. After a little over a week on the drug, I found myself calling my oncologist and asking for help with the side effects, all of which could be found in the “Incidence Not Known” listing. I was taken off the drug immediately.
The new plan is Zoladex + Anastrozole until I am able to have a hysterectomy. When I meet with my oncologist next month, I’ll most likely get a referral so that the plans for my next surgery can begin taking form.
Can I admit something right now? I generally don’t like change.
Although I try to cope with things in a healthy manner, I’ve sometimes resorted to not-so-healthy ways, such as eating frozen cookie dough. Yes, you heard that correctly. Each night, when everything was quiet and I had plenty of time to think, I suddenly had the overwhelming need for the cold sweet stuff.
I’d feel ashamed, but then I’d do it again the next night. Finally I put a stop to it by putting the bag of sinful goodness in front of my husband. It was gone that night.
I know that many cancer patients like myself have struggled with their own unhealthy coping mechanisms. Too, we feel even more ashamed when we fall down because of the incredible pressure to be a positive, healthy-eating, exercising, full-of-gratitude, and all-around perfect cancer patient. If we don’t live up to that ideal, then we feel even more awful.
The truth is, we’re only human. And that sometimes means eating cookie dough at night in order to cope with often overwhelming circumstances.
As Mike Foster says in Rescue Academy,
“It’s human to run from our hardship and our feelings. It takes recognizing God’s grace to stop running and turn around to face the lion that is chasing us.”
So, at least from my perspective, I say give yourself a break. Cancer treatment is long and tiring and downright awful. You’re doing the best you can. And if you fall down, pick yourself up and try again.
At this point in my treatment, I’m beginning to think about my future again. My original plans and my body have already gone awry, and so I must gather up what remains to re-shape and re-form my life once everything finally settles down.
The thing is, this is me now. Cancer changes things, and it changes you.
The fun of Anastrozole will be with me for a long time, and the risk of a cancer recurrence is high. Any plans I make will have to incorporate all of this, allowing me to jump on the airplane of change at a moment’s notice. What will that mean for my future? I honestly have no idea at this point.
Mike Foster goes on to say,
“…God provides us with permission to embrace it all. And we mean all of it! We start to see our hurts and hang-ups on par with the bright and beautiful, not as ‘better or worse.'”
Like it or not, cancer is part of my life and will most certainly be so for the rest of my life. But life goes on.
And if I occasionally eat some frozen cookie dough, that’s ok.