Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back To The Good Place

Is it possible that once one experiences that place of peace and clarity, one becomes so addicted to it, that then, when that place gets lost in the day to day issues, in the average state of mind, one finds it harder to pull him / herself back up, knowing that the amazing place of peace and clarity exists, because it is so good, way better than one would ever expect.
Too deep and meaningful?
Let me try to explain...

I have recently been through a very rough patch. I was physically very unwell. Probably most unwell I have ever been in my life. It was hard. And I found it extremely hard to deal with. Physically and mentally.
All sorts of thoughts have been going through my head... Being on heavy medications didn't help. Starting to experience some familiar but 'new' symptoms in my chin didn't help either. My thoughts were going quite wild. Negative. Not my usual self, I got spiraled into almost a depressive mood... Many questions were raised in my head. I felt uncertain, for a long time. And since I haven't yet had a scan of my head, I still do feel a bit uncertain. I want answers. And I want solutions.
Anyhow, I do feel better, physically and mentally. But I think I have lost the measurement of wellness somewhere on the way...

In my head, the only way is up! And I was quite high up feeling-wise for a while there. I was absolutely certain I am doing the right thing and that I will feel better and better each day. At least physically. I was expecting to be off steroids and on reduced other medication by the time I finish chemotherapy. I expected all my lumps (visible subcutaneous tumors that are pretty much all over my body) will be much smaller and I will overall feel much better, more energetic...

Well, it turned out very different.
Not only my tumors are still there, some of them got bigger. Steroids and other medication are all the same dose as they were before chemo. And the worst part is, there's new symptom - tingling and numbing sensation in my chin, combined with a pressure headache which indicate that I have an active tumor somewhere in my head...
Not good. Not good at all.

Now, because I've experienced the place of peace & contentment for quite a few months and I can vividly remember how amazing it feels, does that make my current feeling of uncertainty worse? Worse in a way that my standard to feel good is now much higher than it was 2 years ago, before I knew that place of complete acceptance, peace of mind and clarity existed? Is that possible?
I hope so. Because that would mean it's not that bad now after all. And to get out of this unpleasant feeling, yes, it is easier, because I know how and I have the tools.

The bad news is that no matter what happens, what results I get next week, this is my life now and I truly need to (lovingly) accept all, whatever comes my way...
The good news is that I am on the up. On the up in a way of feeling better, day by day, physically and mentally. It's a slow recovery, but it is a recovery. An extremely slow climbing and a very long way up, since my barometer has changed, but I am on the way up.

What I really don't need is any news that there are new or extra tumors in my brain. I believe I am done with it. I believe those tumors were treated a year ago and my mind and my mental state has changed enough to not grow any new ones...
I would love some good news. It would make my existence much easier. And it would make my 'way up' much faster.

I am still tired....

Please, oh please, mighty universe, deliver some good news this time! Surely I more than deserve them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Only Wish

As I'm lying down, resting, healing (have been for the past couple weeks since my last radio therapy), I can not help but feeling sorry for myself...
I am unwell. Truly, physically unwell. I have not been this unwell ever before in my life.
I am weak, extremely fragile, finding it very hard to walk, sit, stand for longer than 5 minutes at the time... I hardly leave the house these days. Dropping off my daughter to school is an enormous task. Even just visiting the Doctor sometimes too hard ... I can't go down the beach, since I can't walk for more than couple hundred meters. I don't go out to cafes at the moment, since I can't sit properly for more than 5 minutes and it requires way too much of an effort to dress up in the first place...
My favorite place is home, in my recliner. Just lying down, snuggled in a blankie, cups of tea, a nice romantic comedy, my iPhone and 3 comfort meals a day. My only desired company is my beautiful daughter and my loving man...
My emotions are all over the place too.
I mostly feel sad. And frustrated for being so useless. Angry, when I wish to do something and I realise I can't. I also feel scared of losing the vision ...
The vision of being well again.

The numbness in my leg, particularly in my foot, is much easier to handle than the pain, but yet it's hard to deal with when trying to move around. Or even just putting clothes on. It requires much too much effort.
The tingling sensation in my chin is scary. Scary because it's been there before, about a year ago. And soon after that, there came cancer diagnosis in my chin, scull and tumors in my brain. The tingling went away after radio treatment, but came back recently ... Does that mean cancer in my chin is back?

We were meant to be in Thailand at the moment. A three weeks long warm sunny tropical family holiday. Creating lovely memories. Well, we are not there, because I'm too unwell. The trip has been postponed till mid September. Something to look forward to. But I want to be well! I want to be healthy. I want to be pain free, numbness free, feeling well, energetic, and full of life. Possibly on a very low dose of medication, no steroids. Will I?

Another challenge is my hair. It's been over 6 weeks since my chemotherapy. My body hair is slowly coming back, but my hair is staying so very thin... It's just horrible. I cut it short the other day to get rid of that horrid 'zombie' hair look. But didn't do it any justice. Now all my bright red subcutaneous tumors (which are placed all over my scull) are obvious and are visibly popping out... Not a good look. Scary, really.

I look unwell. I feel unwell.
And I had enough! I am exhausted. Exhausted of needing to make important decisions on my future treatments, exhausted of feeling old, fragile, unhealthy, weak, unstable, uncertain.... And sick of seeing someone else in a reflection when I look in the mirror.

My only wish is to feel well.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Just Another Hiccup? Perhaps.

I've lived through few weeks filled with horrid pain, yet again. And last week there was a little bit of history repeating...
Honestly, I wish it wasn't.
All I want is to be well. My greatest wish of all is to wake up one morning, open my eyes and while assessing my well being while still in bed, realizing my body has no aches, no pains, feeling well and strong and healthy. Get out of bed with no physical effort, light footed, and walk out of the bedroom well balanced, light and full of life.
Just, simply, to wake up feeling well.

I used to see myself being physically well all the time, even over the past year since living with cancer. But my vision is getting a bit blurry at the moment. And I must confess that my strong attitude has been weakened after the last, yet another unpleasant incident of waking up in agony and almost being unable to move. Yet again I had to call palliative care unit while still in bed, my GP and my radio oncologist. And yet again I was adviced to get an ambulance to take me to emergency ...
Honestly, it absolutely sucks.
All I want is to be well. Is that too much to ask?

It's been about 18 months on this journey now. And wow, what a journey!
I am mostly pleased with my life, I must say. I don't really have regrets. I appreciate all the lifestyle changes I have made. And all the changes in me that have taken place. I appreciate them all and I wouldn't change it for anything.
I definitely am a much better person, with way more peace and contentment, clarity, empathy, ...
But I am getting tired. So tired. Tired of being physically unwell. Tired of feeling the way I used to imagine to be feeling when I'm in my 80s and not at my age. Tired of bouncing moods caused by all the drugs I'm on... They just don't fit into my new found 'organic' lifestyle.
I know many things I'm going through emotionally at the moment are caused purely by drugs, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is the way I feel. And I don't feel right at the moment. I am in this moment, yes, and there are many things I greatly appreciate, but I can not ignore the ones I greatly dislike. There are just a few too many.

I often think of my beautiful daughter. She is only 5 years old. So young, but yet so in tune with what is going on. Every time she puts on her 5 year old behavior and if I am unwell or I let her know I'm in pain, she changes her act straight away. Instead, she runs to me, gives me a huge, honest hug, cuddles me and kisses me and says: mummy I love you. Or: oh mummy, I wish you were well already...
She is so precious, and she is the main reason and my main motivation to keep going and to pull out the whatever strength there is left somewhere inside of me, even when there's a moment when I am running on empty.

How about you? Who is your main motivation?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Like A Yo-Yo

Coming off steroids isn't fun. I feel annoyed, shaky inside, weak on the outside. Still moon faced, horribly bloated and being very thin haired doesn't help.
The good part is, I am reducing the steroids. Hopefully I can go down to zero. That's the goal. At the moment I'm down to 3mg, from original 4mg.

The above was written about 4 weeks ago now...
Since than, all has changed. Again.
As I reduced the steroids down to 2.5mg, the pain returned with the vengeance. So I quickly increased the dose back up. And up. And up, to the old 4mg....
There goes my excitement of getting rid of the drug.
The worst part is, once the pain comes back (with the vengeance), it likes to take a very long time to settle. And by saying very long time, I mean weeks! It's happened previously and it's the third time now. I hope to have learned the lesson.

Back to the pain... Yet again! That horrid pain that keeps me up at night, makes me pop extra pills like lollies. The pain that makes me cry out loud for hours, makes me angry, frustrated, uncentered, irritated... It makes me not being able to concentrate and makes me tired, sleepy, cranky, upset, unsettled, sad, sometimes doubtful, unable to meditate .... The kind of pain that pretty much takes over my existence.
I now know it's temporarily, but that doesn't make it any easier. Easier to handle emotionally perhaps, but not physically. It is just plain hard.

In one of those moments of pain, this insight came by:
'We are never given what we are not able to handle'
Blah, blah, blah... I thought at the time, since I was in agony and I didn't feel like I was handling it at all.
But, here I am. Yes, I am strong, positive, determined and I love life, no matter. I love life so much, that no matter how bad my pain, I am willing to handle it. Handle it in any way I possibly can. I am doing whatever it takes to get well again.

Like a Yo-Yo, that's my life at the moment. And the moment seems to last forever ...
But that's it, I suppose. No matter how bad it is, there are million things around me every day, reminding me how precious and beautiful my life is.
The nature with its crisp ocean breeze, my family with the warmth of hugs and kisses, or lovely self-initiated 'I love you's by my daughter, the deliciousness of fresh, nutritious food, the fun times filled with laughter, surrounded by my dear friends, ....
All different things, great and small. In every moment of our life. Things considered good and the ones considered bad. All together, woven into this amazing journey called life.
And I decide to accept it all. Including pain.
I decide to stay right here, right now, being present in this very moment. Accepting every bit of it, as much as I possibly can. After all, Yo-Yos are meant to be fun, aren't they?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are You Driven By Fear or Driven By Love

I have recently read a book called Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani. I have read quite a few books over the past year, while being on my healing journey. I am not a very keen reader, however there is an occasional book I come across that really grabs me straight away and makes me contemplate. The book Dying To Be Me was one of them. The book itself talks about the near death experience and the importance of love. The 'love' part really made me contemplate.

What is love? How do I define love? Is there such thing as the definition of love, or is love greater than that? How do love and life interconnect?
I get the 'in love' part, when you meet someone and you fall in love... And I get the parent - child immeasurable, unconditional love, too. It's just there, it came to me somewhat naturally. But that greater love that this particular book is talking about, just as many other books on spiritual growth, that pure love within, love that blends into the universe, the infinite power of love that we supposed to all have within.... Well, that part I found extremely complicated and confusing.
So, as I do, I opened myself yet again to the universe to deliver the answer.

And then, during the meditation this morning, something happened. Two words came to me. Love & Fear. And I feel I am now beginning to understand.

I realised I have been driven by fear most of my life. From a very superficial decision making in the past such as what to wear to work (so that I am presentable and so that others think well of me) to more recent and very important decision making such as having chemotherapy or not. There are other examples such as what to eat at meal times, attending social events (that I might not necessary feel like attending), visiting in-laws, going to the office when I felt like I am exhausted and all I wanted and needed was a rest, cleaning the house (although all would wait and nothing would have significantly changed if I didn't) and so on....
Most, if not all of the above decisions were definitely driven by fear. Fear of what other people might think of me, fear of losing my job, not being able to pay mortgage or fear of disappointing friends, in-laws, myself etc or in my case later on - the fear of cancer coming back and more recently, the fear of cancer spreading...
I now know that every single thing I have ever thought of as 'I have to do' or 'I have no choice' or the 'just in case' was (and still is) driven by fear.
And that means that even though I have dealt with the fear of dying or the fear of cancer returning or living with cancer, I still have million superficial fears I need to learn to deal with.

So I openly and extremely happily embrace this morning's revelation that love is in fact replacing the actions driven by fear with the actions that are driven by love and only by love.

I am not sure if any of the above makes sense to you, but to me, it is an enormous and a very significant insight. I feel like I have reached a very important milestone on my healing journey and I couldn't wait to sit down to be able to write it down and have it recorded to remind myself over and over again...
I now know what love is. I finally get it.
Love is huge. Love is so big that we can't possibly define it in a sentence. Love is all and everything. Therefore all I do from now on will be questioned:
Is this action of mine driven by love or is it driven by fear?

My bone pain (caused by cancer) has returned recently, after I started to reduce my painkillers, so I did experience another set back. But this time it was different. Not in a way of intensity of the pain. The pain was just as bad as it was previously when around. I was in absolute agony. And I still am in pain, but it is getting better again, since I have learned to manage it well. The difference this time was my reaction to it. I reacted differently. I let go much easier and much faster than in the past. I also asked for help much faster and I found a possible solution, another bout of radiotherapy.
So today, on my way to my radio-oncologist I asked myself:
'Is this treatment to get rid of pain driven by fear or is it driven by love?'
How can a radiotherapy treatment be driven by love you may think? Well, it actually can. In my case, right now, it is. I love life. I love being active. I love being able to go for a walk on the beach, cycle with my daughter, go on a road trip with my family, a flight to exotic holiday destination.... I love cooking, sitting down, lounging around, doing arts and crafts.... These are only a few things that I absolutely love. And all of these things are compromised when in pain. Radiotherapy will fix my pain as it has in the past. So yes, here I come, driven by love! The love to life I absolutely love living and only the life I love, nothing else.

And so my life will head in the direction filled with love, from now on, always and forever.
How about yours?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Midnight Monologue (With The Pain)

Why are you here?
What is it that you are telling me?
What am I supposed to do?
How am I supposed to treat you?
How can I possibly just 'be with it' when it hurts so bad?
Is it the leftover pain from within that needs to be let go off? Perhaps acknowledged properly first?
Let go off pain - how? With tears? That seems to help, but only if in a combination of painkiller top ups, monologues like this one and the number of mixed emotions (from deep sadness and helplessness to indescribable frustration and anger) ....

I am acknowledging how blessed I am with my life in the now. I am so blessed to have most loving & caring man & most amazing daughter, my perfect family. Beautiful friends. In the now.

But it wasn't always like that. My past life was unpleasant. My childhood was filled with domestic violence and abuse on all levels. It was almost a complete opposite to my current life. I believe I dealt with all that a long time ago. I believe I have moved on.
Practicing mindfulness, should I keep going back to try and explore all my past wounds further? Randomly or intentionally? Only if the feelings arise or regardless - even when all seems perfect in the now?
I seriously feel I have moved on. Definitely don't feel stuck.
But perhaps I am, on a subconscious level, without realizing?
Perhaps that's what the pain is all about? The leftover of deeply seeded hurt, guilt, fear and anger from my childhood years.
Although I don't feel the guilt, nor fear or anger at present anymore, it could as well be still there, cemented somewhere deep down, and coming out as a horrid & unbearable pain. Is that possible?

Perhaps the right answer truly is: let it be ... and then: let it go

I'm here in Melbourne for a weekend meditation workshop as I'm writing this post. And it's not just any kind of meditation workshop. It's The Mind That Changes Everything, run by Ian Gawler, one of the key inspirations and teachers on my healing journey. I feel so blessed to be able to attend this workshop. And it might as well be perfect timing for my pain to have returned and possibly given me the opportunity to explore it into details, acknowledge it & accept it, (dare I say it) embrace it and finally possibly let it go .... This time for good?
Or perhaps I need to learn to live with it in a loving manner.
Learning to love the pain, well , that's a huge challenge I would love to conquer! So I now open myself to the universe to send me the message once again, to lighten the right path so I can keep heading into the right direction.

I now lovingly accept every single bit of myself, from my appearance, to my thoughts, feelings and emotions, including aches and pains.
All is me & I am all. Only because of it ALL, I've been moulded into the magnificent person I am today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"If You Think You Can Or If You Think You Can Not, You Are Right!"

Very wise quote by Henry Ford. It made me think, many times... And every time I agreed to it, strongly.

I had a full body bone scan yesterday. Results reviewed by my Doctor today. The results were 'kind of' neutral. I say neutral, because they weren't really much worse than a year ago, which in the 'advanced cancer terms' means good.
Well, bad news is, that even after chemo, there still are 30+ tumors showing in the bones pretty much all over my body: scull, neck, one of the shoulders, all over ribs, lower spine, mid spine, upper spine, both hips, pelvis, down both legs.... yes, all over.
However, they are not new. They have been there for well over a year, they haven't grown and many of them are possibly shrinking.

The above news can easily be taken with a huge disappointment and negativity. I could easily make myself feel sad, angry, scared, doubtful, full of 'what ifs' etc. And possibly make myself spiral into the darkness and depression.
But I choose not to.
I take the news as positive. Very much so.
There is no talk about my organs being affected, which is great. No talk about being worse, or that chemotherapy is not working, or that there are no more treatments left etc.
My pain level is much better than a month ago, which is fantastic. I am reducing the painkillers again, yay! I feel quite well, energetic. Physically much better than 6 months ago, much stronger, too. Mentally, I am filled with clarity on what to do next. Spiritually, I am content and with deeply seeded trust and belief that all is unfolding perfectly.

It is all in the mind, isn't it? We make choices every single moment of our life. We are blessed with being absolutely free to decide on pretty much everything: what we eat,  what we wear, what we say, what we think, how we feel... Every moment of every single day. It is completely up to us. And it is all in our head (or wherever the mind might be hidden...). Our mind is such an amazingly powerful tool.

A negative outlook vs a positive outlook. Both extremely powerful. So different, complete opposites, but yet both 100% right. Can you see that?

How about you? Which outlook do you decide to follow?