I’ve probably mentioned once or twice (okay, more than that) that there will never be a day when I do not think about cancer due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes I can and do go for minutes, even hours without thinking about it. Even then, I am often rudely awakened and quickly brought back to my new reality as I now know it, my post-cancer-diagnosis life.
One of those times of rude awakenings happened recently when I was doing some holiday shopping at the mall. There I was casually and innocently (no cancer thoughts what-so-ever) browsing through the various calendars for the new year in the temporary kiosk that is set up every year, and that’s when my cell phone rang.
And guess who it was from?
It was from my oncologist. I wondered how many people get phone calls from an oncologist while doing their holiday shopping at the mall.
Talk about being abruptly pulled back to reality.
That call quickly brought back memories about a different cell phone call from a different doctor on a different day not all that long ago; the call when I heard the words, you have “a” cancer.
And by the way, the fact that I receive calls from an oncologist still feels very weird to me.
But the strange thing this time was not the call itself. I have had five oncologists after all and have talked on the phone with all of them. No, the strange thing this time was my reaction to it.
That’s what surprised me.
The reason for her call was to deliver some unsettling news about my bone health. I don’t choose to go into that here, but it was upsetting news for me to hear. No worries, nothing too serious, but yet serious enough to shake me up more than a bit.
After trying to find a private space and finishing up that phone call, there was to be no more shopping for me that day. I realize now I probably should have called her back later, but honestly I didn’t even think of that I was so rattled. (Tip for doctors – when calling patients, first ask them if this is a good time for them to talk). I headed straight for my car and drove home.
Cancer’s ongoing grip on my new normal felt a bit tighter that day.
That evening, just like I usually do after getting unpleasant cancer-related news, I completely lost it with hubby. He patiently listened (again) to me rant and rave about the injustices of a cancer diagnosis, as well as the injustices of treatment-induced ongoing side effects. And yes, there were more than a few tears shed and more than a few choice words spoken.
That’s how I process through cancer
shit stuff. I receive information, I hold it together til I find a safe place, I rant, I rave, I share with Dear Hubby, I absorb, I pet my dogs, I absorb some more, I cry a bit more, I accept, I make a plan, I move forward, I write about it and eventually I feel better – at least somewhat.
It’s a process.
And this kind of processing requires time, emotional work and patience with one’s self.
My advice to you is this: allow yourself time to process unpleasant information in whatever manner (within reason) works best for you.
Finally, once again I realize all the “cancer emotions” are still very close to the surface, perhaps even closer than I thought.