Generally, I am not afraid to be vulnerable. Lately, however, I have been afraid to open a new page to start writing, afraid of what will come out from my scattered brain.
I have been feeling slightly overwhelmed from the pressure of consistently feeling like I have to be inspiring. As if I wasn’t allowed to break down and feel pain. As if having beat cancer with a little bit of grace and a lot of mental strength was an award I had to always live up to. The PTSD is a little real though. A lot of things remind me of how hurt I was when I was diagnosed, or the physical pain I felt throughout chemo, of how the lack of self-confidence pulled me down. The mental battle was always there. I was consistently fighting against my own thoughts and my own feelings. Add to that a lack of intimacy and you got a recipe for a very lonely process.
It’s definitely not easy to shift back to what this new post-cancer normal has become. It’s quite a strange phase. For me it has been this incredible desire to do everything, to step outside my comfort zone – sometimes a little too far – out of fear that my life could once again take a flip back to uncertainty and illness. After all the process of treatment was over, and once I felt somewhat recovered, I told myself that I wanted to go to sleep every night thinking that if everything is to be taken away, I’d have no regrets. It’s not very sustainable though, that’s for sure. We are always told to live in the present, but the reality is that thinking about that idealistic, hypothetical future is what keeps us in check. This mindset, however, has also brought a lot of beauty into my life. It has made me appreciate the most basic privileges I get to enjoy. The first one, of course, being my health. I try to always remind myself that at some point in time, not too long ago, I couldn’t even get out of bed – and that definitely puts any situation back in a more positive perspective. It’s a rollercoaster though, trauma comes laced with so much fear that it becomes easy to lose focus.
I have said before that I felt like the process of going through cancer has made feel reborn. This is absolutely true. However, I am still discovering what this new version of me is. One thing has definitely become clear, I am not willing to settle for mediocre experiences. I am committed to live – whatever that means, I am still figuring it out – and most importantly, I am committed to me. In spite of that, sometimes reality feels quite heavy… it’s been a struggle to find safety in my own body and to let go of the panic that comes through when I think of the statistical possibility of my cells betraying me one more time. I am aware that I cannot let that stop me from living, but I also can’t let it steer me away from finding a purpose to satisfy my soul.
Cancer may leave our bodies, exterminated by the toxins pumped into our veins, but does it ever really leave our minds?
Here I’m hoping that it’s just a matter of time, or maybe it’s a matter of sitting with that fear, understand it and choose every day to overcome it. I’m still learning to cope. Today marks exactly one year since I walked out of the hospital after a long 12-day stay after my lung collapsed during my port insertion surgery – and first chemo session. I was feeling inexplicably sensitive today, and I guess is because the body doesn’t forget trauma, even if our mind can sweep it under a metaphorical mental rug and pretend life is peachy. It’s still a matter of perspective: one year ago I had three surgical procedures in 15 days and, in comparison, this week I got to walk a runway at a fashion show, dance salsa and squat 40 kilos at the gym. And with that thought, here I am hoping life continues to be kind <3.