7th November 2015: Sydney, Australia
Personal development is all about progression in any identified area in your life. Typically, the process of establishing goals is seen as an essential step towards achieving your goals. Now, bearing this in mind, I am curious as to whether my recent chain of thoughts have been misdirected. Basically, the entirety of my focus was to remain alive. If we were to break down the meaning of that goal, I think it is actually a rather harmful state of mind. It is not like I am scrapping for food, in need of shelter or avoiding danger. Really, my goals seem to reflect an underlying vulnerability. A superior approach would have been to be more specific. For instance, what do I want from my ideas/career, how do I want relationships in my life to look, what type of lifestyle am I seeking, how do I want to be progressing in my physical/emotional rehabilitation, and what do I want to be fuelling my body with. On reflection, my goals were once structured in such a way with timeframes underpinning each goal, however, I allowed myself to drift into the abyss of confusion and uncertainty. Ultimately, placing me back to a state of mind not conducive to really make the intended changes in my life.
1st November 2015: Snapper Rocks, Queensland
I received a text from a friend containing a photo of me from when I was 24 years old, and almost immediately, I noticed a body I have become so unfamiliar with. The striking difference is of course a long forgotten flat abdomen region spanning across the entirety of my lower torso whilst further examination reminds me of the normal chest I had prior to starting the chemotherapy that caused my chest to be more akin to the body of a 14 year old girl. If a greater analysis was undertaken, then I can also connect with a completely carefree attitude evident in my face, however, I wish to keep all emphasis on the noticeable changes in my body resulting from the lasting impact of consecutive surgeries and the course of treatment tackled thus far.
There are many paths for this entry to lead down, and the singular route to be explored relates to the question about the importance of body image. Firstly, is it a reflection of my shallowness to even think about some scarring and an enlarged chest when taking into consideration the fact I am here, alive and smiling? Secondly, please consider the situations for many others, particularly women who some may argue lose some of their femininity when having a breast removed or have the need for a colostomy bag. Just to note, I do not hold this view about women, however, I have both heard and read this to be true, so wanted to widen the scope for discussion about the connection between Cancer and body image.
Ultimately, my current predicament is obviously preferred over death, and believe most others will hold the same position, however, a seemingly blanket view held from others about being superficial for placing emphasis on this topic is simply mirroring a misunderstanding about the impact of certain factors associated with Cancer. As noted in previous entries, I believe it can often be the secondary factors that haunt people who have experienced Cancer, and the only means for decreasing the impact is for educating the masses about some of the areas that may simply be overlooked by discarding these concerns by a belief that everyone should just be grateful to be alive.
28th October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Ill symptoms recently experienced have questioned my overall existence, and I descended into a place not frequently visited. Admittedly, the place is dark, and it is where I entertain destructive thoughts about my my life. It wasn’t till hearing a quote just moments ago that enabled me to block the destructive thoughts and instead focus completely on my long, loving life awaiting me. For those still reading, I encourage you to not see me attaching to anything to give me hope, but alternatively question whether something greater is supporting me throughout this process. It may sound weird at first, and again possibly another juncture for some to stop reading at, however, it seems the quote was heard at the very right moment to refuel my defence system.
Upon dissecting the events, an observer could simply say it was a case of listening to lyrics in a song whilst driving home. Again, I encourage those to not think of coincidences, and instead consider all the minute details forming at the exact moment to make me open to connecting with the lyrics of the song. Honestly, it has had a significant impact and will form the basis of a mental exercise to be completed to support my thinking.
The quote is “they say the darkest hour is before dawn”.
27th October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Writers block is a rather common phrase, and I am sure it will resonate with a few who are reading this. The typical association of writers block varies to the following content as I am using the phrase to express the difficulty encountered in creating my new life story I am desperately wanting to bring to fruition.
Since last writing, obstacles have definitely surfaced, and I was stuck in a cloud of thoughts questioning the reason why there is such a fear associated with Cancer. Why is every bodily symptom linked to a questioning of whether a looming nuclear destructive being will come to fight me again? The specific chain of thought stemmed from an incredibly tough period just passed. Honestly, I went to bed on Sunday at 9pm to wake up at 7am on Tuesday. Admittedly, sporadic periods occurred whereby I got out of bed to get some fruit, however, virtually the entire 34 hours were spent in a state of utter despair, with feelings of fatigue and bodily aches consistently experienced. In keeping with the theme from the previous post, I am trying to place this ordeal in a positive frame whereby a degree of normality has once again finally been obtained, however, it takes great mental strength to keep the demons away who persist on telling me the new narrative will never be achieved.
25th October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
A new dawn has arrived. Admittedly, it is rather vague entry, and hearing I am fatigued and battling a sore throat only seems to add a level of intrigue to how this can be deemed a new chapter in my life. If you are a little confused, then stay with me to hear my explanation.
Previously, an entry in these circumstances would have been saturated in a fear and worry about what these symptoms meant about my health. In contrast, I have been able to shift my interpretations of the symptoms to plainly seeing the sore throat and fatigue symbolising a return to the times of BC (Before Cancer). All throughout my teen and adulthood, a sore throat was the first sign of my body fighting an infection, and opposed to making a correlation between the sore throat and Cancer, I view the sore throat symbolising the beginning of the new narrative I frequently comment upon. In all honesty, I initially did switch into a mode whereby I automatically experienced concern, and of course, I could easily still be stuck in the destructive pattern. The driving motivation behind switching my thoughts derived from a belief in the need to approach my situation differently compared with how I lived after my first surgery. Really, if I am constantly worried and link every little symptom to Cancer, then how am I ever going to live a normal life? Lastly, I also think about the laws of attraction, and ponder whether so much mental energy placed on Cancer actually encourages it to resurface. Surely, it is far better to normalise my situation, and simply bring to fruition this new narrative I frequently reference.
22nd October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Two weeks ago, I briefly talked about a form of exercise called Tabata. My opinion on the type of exercise has not changed, and it was proving to be extremely beneficial till deciding to modify the routine. The decision to make changes stemmed from a desire to further intensify the range of exercises, however, it appeared my body was not prepared for the additional load. Consequently, I had to have a week of rest, and was sent for an ultrasound to see whether I had damaged my abdomen. Fortunately, the results were positive, meaning there was no serious damage. Instead, I had placed a significant amount of stress on the abdominal region of my body without it being in a position to take such a load. At a very basic level, I can easily look back on the situation with regret, feeling the decision to intensify the exercise was premature. Some may agree with this explanation, however, I believe my body would have been ready for the changes if I followed my rehabilitation plan from last surgery. On reflection, it seems I was naively under the impression of seeing myself as progressing much faster than last time. Admittedly, many areas may superficially support this position, however, the key point being overlooked was a misdirection in my focus. The best way to articulate my point is to make comparisons at varying stages throughout my two recoveries.
So, after the second surgery I started swimming at six weeks before adding yoga, tabata and surfing into the schedule. I gradually starting swimming faster and a greater distance, and mentally felt better than last time. Now, at 14 weeks, a disparity exists between where was I was last time compared to my current position, and it results entirely from being totally blinded by my objectives. Last time, each step was concentrated on based on what was required at that time. This time, I wanted to pass all the steps in favour of recommencing the belief held about the goals of rebuilding my body still being incomplete. Consequently, I am now needing to work backwards, and it reinforces the imperativeness of thoroughly adhering to a rehabilitation plan.
21st October 2015: Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia
Today, a moment occurred today whereby a thought came upon me, and has since stayed with me till the time of writing. I was at the ‘Promised Lands’, a place known for freshwater swimming pools existing in the area. My intention was to complete yoga on the banks before cooling off in the majestic natural baths. So, a secluded place was located, and in a typical manner I commenced preparing for some yoga, however, a feeling swept across me. A feeling only described as a sense in my body of a reluctance to proceed with the range of planned poses. On other occasions, I usually push through, and always reap the benefits of the practice, however, an overwhelming sense that my intentions were incorrect could not pass from my consciousness. Thankfully, I listened to my body, and ultimately stopped any further attempts. Instead, I simply sat and looked at the scenery. Honestly, it was a moment whereby the natural surroundings evoked total appreciation for my life, and the next two hours were spent interchanging between swimming in the freshwater and sitting on the rocks eating fresh fruit. On reflection, it was a necessary reminder of not always needing to rush or adhere to plans. Rather, the need to be connected with my body to at times have the capacity to just stop. Consequently, I passed on a yoga session on the banks of the water, but experienced complete and utter joy in my surrounding environment whilst returning to a childlike version of myself exploring the water and rocks.