Rediscovering joy

Cancer treatment is a gift that just keeps on giving … more like an anti-gift keeps on giving.

My latest issue is radiation fibrosis. The area of my collarbone and underarm that was radiated is now tight. I asked a friend who is a physiotherapist about it – she explained it as scar tissue like you get after a severe burn. So I imagine the interior tissue in the areas that were radiated are now scarred causing tightness. To help fix it, I need to do stretches multiple times a day. When I asked my cancer friends about it, I learned that it might never go away. I hate hearing that, and like the lymphedema in my right hand/arm, I’m not going to accept that it might not go away.

I’ve been back from California for a week. I’ve recovered from jet lag and my body is generally feeling good – or it was until I over did it a little. Monday I went for a 3km walk on the beach and then did 30 minutes of virtual boxing. Tuesday I went to an exercise class called ‘Feel da rhythm’ that is like an aerobics class but a lot more fun, but also a great work out. I followed that with a half hour of swimming. By Tuesday night I was exhausted.

The thing is, each one of those activities brings me joy. It isn’t just about the physical exercise, it is also about the joy in doing the thing.

Today is a bit of a rest day from physical stuff. Now that my office is setup (yay), I’m spending more time on my computer doing computer stuff – like writing and preparing to restart my podcast. I really like having my office space back. In some ways, it is the only room I feel isn’t in a sense of chaos.

Today is also chemo day. Infusion number 10 of 18. I’m still a little bummed that I have so many infusions left. However, it isn’t really that big of deal – more of an inconvenience than anything else. Tomorrow will likely also be more of a computer day – because the treatment makes my joints ache a little more than they usually do.

One of the things I’m doing for my mental health is taking a writing workshop. I find the process of writing to the various prompts very therapeutic, and it really helps me think through how I’m feeling on a given topic. Here is a snippet from something I wrote today. The bold is the prompt.

Write about the world restarting, being reborn completely anew…

Spring is a season of rebirth – I was thinking that on my walk this morning. Christmas is the story of birth, but Easter is the story of re-birth.

What is my story of re-birth – I’m in that story now. How do I re-imagine myself? Who am I now …

Cancer again has meant yet another chance at re-birth – of rediscovering who I am and who I want to be. I’m asking myself again what I want to do with the rest of my life.

My first cancer diagnosis taught me to look at each day and ask myself constantly, am I doing what I want to be doing? The answer has generally been yes.

My second diagnosis has reminded me to look at my life all over again. Am I doing what I want to be doing – mostly yes – but more, am I getting what I need from what I’m doing?

I am looking at happiness and joy – and what it means to me now. I am happy when I watch my dog chase after a ball at the beach. She is exuding pure joy at the simple pleasure of the game of fetch.

What can I do to exude that same sense of pure joy? What brings that to me? That is what I am exploring – that is the question that I have not yet found an answer to.

  • Becky

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