So Long For Now

Please don’t panic. I’m fine.

I’ve been playing with the idea of giving up blogging for about a month now. My treatments is over. I’ve said just about everything I want to say regarding living well after treatment.

Thanks to The Fast Diet I’ve lost 14 kilos and I’m now a very healthy weight. I’m also enjoying all of the health benefits that come with fasting including, hopefully, the promotion of ‘autophagy’ (the process whereby my body cleans up dead and damaged cells) and lowering my insulin type growth factor.

I’m attending two (sometimes three) yoga classes a week and I’m practicing yoga on my own at home on most days. I’ve now got that long, lean look that I so admired in all the pretzel girls when I first started class around five years ago.

I’ve campaigned for the legalisation of medical cannabis, shared my internal and external landscape with people I will never meet and tried to catalogue everything I’ve learned along the way.

I’ve read and re-read Russ Harris’s books on ACT and I have found strength and clarity by practicing what he teaches. I am clear about my values and each day I commit to living my life in a way that’s consistent with them.

I think I’m done.

Cancer has made me a different person. Most of the changes are good. Oh sure, I could have done without the peripheral neuropathy, the ongoing bone pain and the loss of my breasts, but I have so much to be grateful for.

My marriage is stronger. My husband exceeded my expectations and my hopes in so many ways. I know that like all couples we will still find ways to annoy each other from time to time, but I will never forget how supportive he’s been. He’s earned a lifetime supply of brownie points.

My relationship with my daughter has evolved to one of mutual respect. She’s always been wise beyond her years but coming face to face with my mortality, and her own, has pushed her into adulthood. She seems much stronger and more certain of who she is and what she wants to do with her life. I am grateful that she still seeks my opinion and impressed when she chooses not to give it more weight than her own.

My Mum has found a hundred ways to let me know she loves me, and a hundred more to avoid talking about me dying before her. She’ll be 80 this year. We’re going to have a party.

I’ve lost some friends and made some friends and deepened many of my existing friendships. I now know that it’s our relationships with other people that really gives substance to our lives. I have also surprised myself by being peaceful about those people that stepped back instead of stepping up. They made room for others.

I have sat holding hands with death and I have whispered ‘not yet’. I have experienced the deep wisdom that comes with the knowledge that I will die, that everyone will die and that none of us can really know when that will be. The only other event in my life that has had this much impact on me was giving birth to my daughter. Birth and death change all of us. The only way to know this is to turn and face them.

Cancer has made me softer, kinder, calmer. I am less cynical, less aggressive, less angry. Cancer has taught me humility. I am a tiny drop in a vast ocean and when I die I will be remembered by the relatively small collection of people whose lives I touched. I hold my opinions more lightly now. So much has been turned on its head.

I have a new joy in the everyday. I am grateful for simple things. Water that comes out of a tap, birds in the garden, new spinach growing from seeds dropped by a dying plant last year. Every day I notice the sun on my skin and the way the wind invites me to dance.

I am happier than I have ever been.

I have found blogging incredibly beneficial through all of this. I have discovered that the best way to sort my thinking is to write, and that even when treatment had broken me, I could still help others by writing about what I was experiencing. Some of my bleakest days have been lifted by the comments people left on this site. Best of all were the people that wrote “You’ve put into words exactly how I’ve been feeling”. The most moving comment came from a beautiful young woman whose mother died of breast cancer. She wrote to tell me that reading my blog had finally helped her to understand what her mother had been through, and why she hadn’t wanted to talk to her about it.

I have never paid to promote this site. I didn’t start this blog to become famous, to launch a book or an ap or a brand. It’s just been a great way to keep my head in the game and to help others while I did so. I have been surprised at how popular it’s become and grateful to everyone that’s found it worth reading.

I think I’ve run out of things to say.

I know that there’s now a five year countdown until I’m in the clear, but other than checking in to let you all know I’m still breathing, there’s not much else to write about. I might start another blog somewhere for all my occasional random musings about life, the universe and everything. I might not. We will see.

You see, the thing about writing is that it can take you away from mindfulness. You see or hear something and you think “I must remember to put that in my next blog post”. I find myself sometimes being once removed from my life, waiting for inspiration, watching for anecdotes. I sometimes realise I’ve been writing in my head when I could have been listening to someone I love, or paying attention to what’s right in front of me.

As regular followers will know, I’m not a fan of ‘The Secret’ or any philosophy that tries to convince people that they make their own reality with their thoughts. Oh sure, you’ve got a lot of control over how you choose to interpret things but the notion that you can think yourself sick or well just doesn’t hold water for me. If positive thinking cured cancer then mine wouldn’t have lasted a week. It certainly wouldn’t have come back again. I hope this blog proves that.

But there is something to be said for moving away from ‘cancer patient’ or ‘cancer warrior’ or ‘cancer victim’ as a major part of my identity. I’m pragmatic. I know that the cancer might come back and if it does I’ll come back here and write about it. I hope I never have to.

It’s time for me to embrace the ordinary. I’m never going to be the person I was before I had cancer but I would like to be a whole person again, with all the ordinary, mundane things that we all deal with when we’re not fighting a potentially terminal illness. It’s someone else’s turn to bask in all the love that comes your way when you are diagnosed with cancer. I’ll certainly be paying it forward.

If you’d like to keep in touch then I have a Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Positive3negative/548288675239161

I use it to keep friends, extended family and anyone whose interested updated on my regular check ups. I post any news about new research into triple negative breast cancer and share what I hope are inspirational ideas. Every Sunday I post seven things that I am grateful for that week.

Thank you to all of you. Whether you’ve been here from the start or not, whether you’ve commented or not, whether you’ve also had cancer or not. Thank you. You kindness and encouragement has kept me writing when I felt like stopping. It’s been quite a ride.

Love and good health to all of you. May you know the deep joy of a grateful life.

Meg

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12 thoughts on “So Long For Now

  1. Hi Meg,

    A lovely post (once again). I am trying for ordinary as well now that I have finished treatment and surgery. I wish you all the best and thank you for all your heartfelt words of wisdom, strength and positiveness.
    Xx Julie

  2. Dear Meg,
    Thank you for your inspirational writings and the ‘hope’ that your words encourage. Your blog has inspired me to read more and search further for progress being made in tnbc research, & living well beyond treatment.
    I wish you happy times ahead and send gentle hugs to surround you & your family. If you decide to write the odd blog I’ll be on the look out!
    Take care Meg.
    Ricki ā™”ā™”ā™”

  3. I am so glad that the blog has helped you get to where you are now. I also want to thank you for sharing all your most personal feelings and helping me understand your journey.
    Deb XXX

  4. Goodbye, Meg, and all the very best for the future. I completely understand the need to leave “cancer world” behind and move on – I am at the 3 year mark post-TNBC and also feel the need to lead a life that isn’t dominated any more by a diagnosis. I will follow you on fb for updates from time to time, and wish you every happiness. Thank you for sharing with us. xx Michelle

    • Dear Michelle, thank you so much for your beautiful comment and all of your support and encouragement. I’m sure I’ll come back to writing a blog one day. I’m just not sure yet what the subject will be. It’s nice to have a break from thinking about cancer, and thinking about writing about cancer, although as I’m sure you can appreciate, we never really stop thinking about it altogether. My very best wishes for your continuing good health. At three years you’ve conquered the worst of the post-treatment risk and I very much hope to be in the same position in two and a bit years. XXXX

  5. Hi Meg
    Your writing has been very valuable to me. I pop in from time to time to see what you’ve been thinking about. I’m out the other end of treatment for now too, but I came back to see how you are approaching post-treatment life. You’ve had a professional life, you’ve successfully coped with the ‘reality slap’ of cancer. What is it to be a private person again, what goals do you have, where to contribute next? Or is it to live in the present, value a different pace of life, to reinforce the bonds of friendship and family so precious.
    Best regards
    Meg M x

    • Thank you for this beautiful comment. I’ve been enjoying my break from blogging but missing the joy of writing. I’m rolling a few ideas around in my head. I might set one up for all the things that make me angry so I have somewhere to rant about them other than Facebook, or one for all the hard lessons I’ve managed to learn (or need to keep relearning), or one for living well after cancer. Still just percolating the ideas and enjoying being in the moment…..but I’m sure that my mind still needs to write. XXX

  6. Can I just say that I am blown away by your post, you write very well. I look forward to catching up on the rest of your posts, even if this is ‘so long for now’. I can understand what you meant about saying what u needed, I felt like you were in my head, talking about the things you gained & lost in your fight… Wow. I wish you all the best with life, congratulations on such a fierce fight- you seem to be a force of nature, more power to you!

    • Thank you so much for your beautiful compliment! I am sure that I’ll return to blogging soon. I love writing, particularly when other people tell me they’ve gained something from it. I’m still tossing around ideas and when I decide what comes next I’ll post a link here. As a gardener, I love your suggestion that I’m a force of nature.
      Meg
      X

      • I was wondering if you’d pick up on that, I gathered you’re a bit of a green thumb from your writing, lol
        Thanks for being kind enough to look at my stuff and get to me as well. Looking forward to seeing what you end up posting next.

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