I’m pleased to share this new #MetsMonday featured post by online friend and fellow author Carol Miele. Carol shares how it feels to her living with metastatic breast cancer and what helps her cope. Regardless of cancer type or stage, I think you’ll relate to her feeling like she’s “out on a limb” analogy. Be sure to leave her a comment or ask her a question in the comments. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your voice on Nancy’s Point.
Out on a Limb!
by Carol Miele
As you likely know, life can throw you a curve when you least expect it or want it. You struggle to find ways of coping with the inevitable, woeful events. Some tend to cope better than others.
I know what it’s like. I’ve been out on a limb for the past eight years.
I can tell you firsthand, it gets lonely out there….and scary. There may be helping hands around you, but they can’t quite reach you. The depth of your distress is beyond their perception. It’s a simple dynamic. Your life hangs in the balance, theirs doesn’t.
They can’t be faulted. No one can know what it’s like to be in your shoes, or more literally, in your skin. To be precise, they will never feel what it feels like in your cancer damaged, chronically painful, surgically scarred and incurably diseased body…nor in your deeply tormented psyche.
Recently, someone asked me what it’s like to have Stage 4 cancer. In my case, I was diagnosed October 8, 2010 with metastatic breast cancer (de novo) that had spread extensively to bone in eight locations. I replied:
Living with metastatic breast cancer is like being suspended over a canyon with a raging river below you. Eventually, the ropes will snap and you’ll fall in and die. But you don’t know when that will happen. So, you struggle on with whatever strength and resolve you have left. But the crude ropes restrict your freedom to do what you used to do, and long-range planning is gone…forever.
You dangle there, shaking inside, while trying to overlook all the discomfort it causes you. You hurt all over and you’re tired, more tired than you have ever felt in your entire life. But you’re not giving up…not yet anyway! Impossibly, you hang onto your faith and the slim prospect that someone will come along with a way to rescue you.
Still optimistic that a rescue may be in the offering, I remain open to new discoveries, research leading to new drugs in the pipeline, and successful clinical trials. I look around…everywhere…that is, everywhere but down.
The last thing I want to do is to look down.
I don’t want to jinx my “longer than expected” survival of eight plus years. Looking down could lead to going six feet down. I’m not being overly grim or morbid. If you meander down the path of abject failure, you may find it a slippery slope. Personally, I feel rather strongly that an important aspect of day-to-day survival is the state of your mind and your spirit. This is what helps me cope anyway.
As for my predicament, I have always been afraid of heights. So, being out on a limb with no net beneath me is the ultimate anxiety-producing place for me to exist, even if it’s just in my head. Outwardly, I generally appear strong and steady, leading the charge in fact. Looking that way has helped me to feel that way.
It’s a little like women who feel better when they put on makeup. I feel better when I adjust my mind in a positive direction.
While a positive attitude, strong faith and an impenetrable spirit won’t cure cancer or guarantee your longevity, it can help your remaining time to be more tolerable, if not actually enjoyable. I still love to laugh and enjoy life, despite pain or physical restrictions.
I’ve definitely opted for empowering myself to hang on in spite of my precarious position. I’ll dangle for as long as possible. When I look up, I see a spirit smiling down on me saying, I believe in you. When I look around, I see a loving family and friends who want me to prevail.
I’m out on a limb yes, but I feel fortunate to have latched onto that branch.
I believe it’s what helps keep me alive.
About Carol: Carol Miele, diagnosed with MBC in 2010, lives in Central Florida with her husband Gene and their rescue dog Flora. She is retired from a long nursing career and now enjoys writing, painting and traveling. She is the author of two books: Metastatic Madness: How I coped with a Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis (2012) and Kicking Cancer to the Curb!: A Glimpse Of My Life As Seen In The Rearview Mirror And Through The Front Windshield! (2015).
What would you like to say to or ask Carol?
Do you have metastatic breast cancer and if yes, what helps you cope?
Regardless of stage, or no cancer diagnosis at all, do you ever feel like you’re out on a limb?