Sunday, March 29, 2015

intense, or: anger, hope, spring & the larger picture



"Intense" is the theme of the new photo challenge. It also is the tune of the recents days, which brought a time of anger and frustration, but also days of light and surprises. The photo above - it could be a far-away place, but it is the botanical garden near here. Walking into it felt like stepping into another world. And so good, to finally be able to go out into the world a bit more again.

Some thoughts and reflections, and: anger 

From treatment, I am now in the second phase of chemo, with medication that is easier on the immune system, but has other potential side effects which add up during the cycle (for example: dryness of skin, numbness of feet, arthritis-like symptoms...).

It's also a time of stronger emotions, reaching from negative to positive. My horoscope summed it up pretty well at some point: "Obstacles: This may be a somewhat difficult time, full of frustration and irritating occurrences. Your energies do not have the necessary vigor or power. You feel angry, but this influence does not often give you the opportunity to express your anger.” 

The anger, for me it came up in a mix of frustration and powerlessness: why do I have to go through this? Why does chemo have to be so painful and full of side-effects - can’t someone have developed another treatment by now for God's sake? And why am I there, in this situation at all?

I know it’s irrational, and it helped to go for a long walk with my partner and talk about these feelings. He has irrational feelings, too, feeling guilty for feeling good and healthy, and for being helpless. “But you are there for me,” I said. We also talked about life and growing older. How this illness brings the realization closer a of how vulnerable we are, that we can make plans, but that life is finite, and that the older you get, the more likely getting ill is.

Plus, going through chemotherapy brings ongoing encounters with other patients. I guess I never before met that many people on a regular basis who are ill. Including some who know that there won’t really be a cure for them, who are in a more complicated stage of cancer with tumors that have spread, who would happily exchange their diagnosis with mine. Luck, it turns into something rather relative.



World moments
In contrast to the difficult emotions, there is this string of lighter days and hours, even some art moments. Now that the tough first phase of chemo is complete, and my immune system is not that low and vulnerable any more, I can go to public places again. Plus spring is there, bringing some sunny and warm days every week so far.

It is such a special joy, to be able to go to places again. I started carefully, with a smaller museum during the week. On another day, I bought new flowers for the garden. And again on another day, I went to the botanical garden for an hour.

The key to these new phase of chemo for me so far is: finding a new balance of getting rest, figuring out when I feel better during the week, and then try to go with the flow. Right now, I try to include one "highlight" to each week. And catch some of the sun when it is there.



The larger picture
So seen a bit from distance, going through chemotherapy currently comes with two directions: it limits the things I can do, the way I can plan. But it also brings a new angle to things, and lets me see things in a different way. Appreciate the good days. Be more aware of the number of people who have to deal with difficult of chronic illnesses.

Another thing that has changed: there have been some touching conversations, with people I hadn't known that well, but also with friends. Knowing that I am dealing with those difficult themes seems to make it easier for others to address difficult things they are dealing themselves with, of have gone through.

Even going through the musuem to visit an art exhibition, or going to the botanical garden and see all those different shapes of nature reflects the larger reality of life: that all this is part of life. Hope, growth, illness, joy, pain, acceptance, anger, beauty, faith, frustration. The ups and downs. The happy and sad times. It all is connected.




Blogging
These days also brought the thought that I want to somehow have a blog that is more about the chemo time – that impulse comes from the wordpress-cancer-tag, which makes it possible in an easy way to find blogs of others who are going through cancer treatments, and of science articles (and unfortunately, some “wonder drugs” too), but it's a good way of connecting: https://wordpress.com/tag/cancer/ 

So the thought came up to start a new blog there, in addition to the photo blog - or rather, shift the photo blog to a more open format. So I tried a different template and am now blogging there in a different way: once upon each day

Will see how this shapes out. Maybe this blog will turn more into a blog of revisiting journeys and stories.

Hairs and Moments
And there is hairy news :) My hair is starting to grow again. Slowly, and just some first hairs, not the full scope. But it is sweet to see that the hair still knows how to do it. And my eyebrows and eyelashes are still there, too (well, they thinned, but maybe half of them have survived. So now I hope the remaining hair stays and keeps growing, and isn't affected by the next chemo sessions (you never know. That is one main clue to the whole treatment. Every body reacts differently. So it is more about: enjoy the upside moments. Don't worry too much. When you have a good day, be happy about that. Which, in the sum of it, might be a teaching for the life after the illness, too. To not take that much for granted. To appreciate the small moments more.

The final photo for this post.. is from the first museum visit, in February.



**

The shadow/light journey:
I now started to mark all blog posts about this shadow journey with a tag: C is for cancer, and for courage, too. Here's the sorted list, starting at the beginning:

Diagnosis & Operation
17. October: life is what happens to you while... 
26. October: this translucent state of fear and hope...,
28. October: the day before, "Serious was last week"..
02. November: november roses & not knowing..
17. November: hope + fear

Chemotherapy
23. November: "we're sorry, it's chemotherapy"
13. December: getting to know the Emperor of Maledies
20. December: from last island day to first chemo day
11. January: second round of chemo & my hair, falling
02. February: paradise, counting my blood cells & ...
22. February: chemo milestone & healing and reading
14. March: first short trip, me with a wig, and a friday scare


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