Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Weekend Away With Cancer

It's retreat weekend! Keith and I are going to a retreat for young adults with cancer and young adults who have been caregivers to those who have had cancer. I am so grateful that programs like this exist and I am looking forward to meeting other young survivors and to Keith meeting other young caregivers, too.

Keith works for an NHL team and during the playoffs, time off isn't an option. On Thursday night, his team lost game seven which meant that he could come with me to this retreat (had his team won, he would have had to stay and work). I was extremely anxious while I was watching the game because had the outcome been different, I would be going to this retreat alone, meeting other survivors and caregivers alone and dealing with feelings alone. I fear that I will be dealing with some emotions that I have otherwise suppressed since my diagnosis.

I can't help but wonder what will come up this weekend that I have yet to deal with. Don't you ever wonder if you haven't actually dealt with issues that you've been faced with for the past year, 5 years or entire life and instead tucked them away in the 'to do' folder until it's crucial that you sort out all of your thoughts and emotions? I fear that although I feel like I have dealt with this cancer thing pretty well, this weekend I will have break down upon break down because in lieu of dealing with the hard issues, I use humour to deflect my true feelings.

How do you know if you've dealt with an issue or if you've just ignored it? Can you tell by your reaction to the mere mention of the topic (you start crying when you hear the word 'mastectomy') or is it not until you're in an intensive situation before you let it all out? I sometimes wonder if I should have spoken to a counsellor or a psychologist about being diagnosed with cancer and other times I think that with all of the support that I've been given, I didn't/don't need counselling but how can I be sure?

I seem to have come to terms with what I can't control; fertility, only having one breast, the fear of recurrence, etc. but every now and again a mixture of every emotion known to man seems to come over me and I feel like I have taken ten steps back. By the following day, I always feel better, great even because I've acknowledged how I felt, and could move on. That's what I'm anticipating this weekend will do for me; it will be hard to deal with while I'm in the midst of it but by next week, I'll feel like a whole new me.

It's a bizarre feeling to be scared of yourself - in a way, I don't know what I'm capable of when it comes to cancer (both physically and emotionally) and I'm not sure what has been dealt with and what is left brewing under the surface. You know how you can talk about a topic ten times without crying and on the eleventh time you weep like a baby? That's how I feel, I mean the work 'cancer' has lost all of its meaning anymore but when I say 'I had cancer', every now and again, it becomes real, too real. I guess I'm also a little apprehensive because when it is just me and Keith, I can escape the cancer world but by going to a retreat, I am committing to cancer for the entire weekend. I don't know if I am ready for that kind of commitment.


  1. Hello lovely girl - Your feelings are so raw, real, and SOOO normal. Thank you for sharing them. Dealing with cancer isn't like turning a light switch on or off, it's more like mopping up a basement every time it floods. Different things will make it flood, but it's about being willing to roll up your pants and get down there with your mop and bucket. OK - maybe I have taken the analogy too far. But, in all seriousness, my very wise psychologist has always said to me that the only way to the other side of the emotions/pain/heartache is to walk right through them - rather than avoiding them as we all prefer to do. I hope this weekend gives you plenty of opportunities for break(throughs). I'll be thinking of you and Keith and I can't wait to catch up with you soon.

    1. Oh Terri - your words mean so much to me. Thank you.

      You're just so damn smart. I love the flood analogy, and no it's not too far.

      The weekend is going so well so far. I'm tired but it's so good.

      Miss you!