Almost 16 months to the day, all treatment and medication is complete...not without a last minute minor hiccup, but that's life!
Do I feel relieved? Not as much as I thought I would.
Do I feel proud of how I've come through the last 16 months? Not as much as I should.
Do I feel thankful for all that's taken place? Boy do I ever!
As I tentatively take baby steps back into my new normal (yet to be figured out), I know I am truly blessed but I'm also totally overwhelmed, somewhat lost and a little frightened.
I have found it far more overwhelming than I was expecting, to process the trauma of this journey.
I miss the comfort my schedule of treatments and doctors' visits gave me. It's an incredibly weird feeling to think that I'm not "doing anything" to fight the illness or prevent it from coming back.
It's a complete shift in mindset to now focus on being healthy rather than second-guessing myself about what to do, what to eat, what not to eat to prevent the cancer from coming back. How do I just be?
There are days (mainly when I'm distracted at work), where I actually forget I had cancer. Then my arm starts hurting from sitting at a desk too long. I don't think it's my body reminding me I had cancer, it's my body gently nudging me to "forget going back to the old pace of life, enjoy taking things nice and slow". Slow, feeling, mindfulness (is it me or is that word everywhere now?) - all part of my new vocabulary.
I was told by my counsellor, that feelings of loss are very common after a trauma like a life threatening illness.
So much is taken away from you - health, hair, being part of people's lives, enjoyment and the list goes on. By and large I didn't feel loss, although there has been 2 distinct moments in the last 16 months that I felt angry that the illness (I still find it hard to write the word cancer), had taken something away from me.
Firstly, when my husband and I had to forgo going to Ireland to attend a friend's wedding.
Secondly when we got a puppy (5 weeks ago). The puppy in someway has resembled the baby we never had and never will have. That crushing feeling of loss took me by surprise. Here is this bouncing fur-ball of energy, love and cuteness, that will now be our "baby." Although hubby insists it's a dog not a baby :-). Friends are enjoying raising their toddlers, or their pregnancies - we just have a puppy. That's pretty hard.
Not to be ungrateful for all the mad moments the little furry guy brings us - it's just a new normal to get used to.