I had started writing a piece yesterday, it was rather depressing I guess, on how difficult things are getting and so on and so forth and yada yada. Note to self, don’t write on the day of chemo; it’s a bitch, the crying is happening all the time, making is hard to see things clearly, figuratively and literally speaking! Then today I started to feel better, talking to family, friends and support groups and I thought the piece wasn’t representative of how I feel. I guess the key right now is that how I feel CHANGE ALL THE TIME. The mood swings are exorbitant and frequent. So to capture how it is to be me, I need to explain both the ups and downs. Think Alpe d’Huez and Col de Galibier in one Tour the France stage, ending in Paris. The uphill is a damn nightmare, downhill is easier but still too scary to be really good and in the end Paris seems like ages away. [Can’t believe I just made a sports metaphor, apologises to everyone that doesn’t have a clue about cycling.] Biking is my way of meditating though; when I need to use my body and clear my head I go for a ride. I stubbornly use the bike going back and forth to all appointments at the hospital including chemo, it feels empowering and all the colors on the bike are invigorating to me. I have often in the past, especially on an exceptionally grey day – and we do have a lot of those in Denmark – biking amongst grey people and grey buildings – which is also abundant here – imagined me and my bike to be a rainbow beacon penetrating all the greyness and adding colors, if not physically then at least into the minds of others. This always makes me smile, I think of it as my color superpowers. Before I go all megalomaniac on you, right now I need those superpowers for myself, so I tap into this by biking and dressing up. It’s all a part of my coping strategy.
A coping strategy is great, you need it badly when your brain doesn’t cooperate, and that happens to often for comfort during chemo. To make sure I’m not forgetting something clever I once knew, I tend to forget a lot at the moment, I re-read one of my early posts ‘dealing with ordeal in an orderly manner‘ to see how I was doing following my own advice. I sure sounded cheerful and determined in that post, now didn’t I? To sum up: we still plan chemo café and try to fill up the calendar plentiful. Truth is, going out was way easier in the beginning. At first, shortly after being diagnosed, the shock released heaps of adrenaline in me, fuelling my energy system; that source of power is now drained. I try to get out even though I’m tired and my husband Thomas still “encourage” me to do so (let’s call it a friendly kick out of the house at times). I do feel very privileged to have as many people as I do around me, that still after all these months repeatedly ask how I’m doing and just signal that they are there for me if I need it. You know who you are and I’m infinitely grateful for all that you give to me. Talking, drinking coffee, making me dinners, going out to eat or for drinks and a ton of other wonderful things. I also find loving and strong support in the online communities from people in the same situation as me.
The overall tactics that I’m using at the moment, is probably best described as “fighting fire with fire”. I’ve signed up for a class at work next week and on top of that I’m also starting on a 12 hours, 4 days a week exercise regime called ‘body and cancer’. I’m not the exercise type if not on my bike, but this is only for 6 weeks, although intense, and it makes a lot of sense to me to use my body at the moment. I have to admit, the sole purpose of mentioning it, is for me to stick to it. I really hate organised inside workouts, but this one comes with a weekly massage and a lot of people in the same situation as me, hopefully it won’t be a total nightmare. And now you know, so I’ll have to report back on it either way. I’m also hoping it will help me to take my mind of the things I worry about; a very blunt attempt to try and think of something else than cancer. On a cancer team, I know, maybe not the best plan… did I mention how this shit affects the brain?
Actually I’ve packed my calendar for the next couple of weeks with a lot of other stuff too. I managed to keep a high pace this week so far, give and take, so I’m sticking to the idea that I will be able to do this. I will have a good time, even for the last four weeks of chemo; having a ball is probably a stretch, but a good time is good enough. If you focus too much on the side effects and what all of this is doing to you and your body it will only make you more sick. Distractions with different projects and meeting up with people is a very deliberate part of my coping strategy. The tiredness I feel doesn’t go away from sleeping or resting anyway, so I might as well keep going. Only four more bumpy up and down weeks to go. It’s so close, I can almost see the Eiffel tower.