There are days where I feel happy. Like, really happy... where my heart feels full, there is no trace of anxiety or fatigue, I have extra energy and life simply feels good.
These days do not happen as often as I would like which is maybe why I take time to acknowledge and feel thankful for those moments in time. However, these days are slowly becoming more and more frequent and I wait with hope that one day they will become my "new normal".
Cancer sucks. It really fucking sucks. And, it is terrifying and painful and exhausting. But, cancer also has helped shape me and has helped me to grow. There is always some light after the dark. I am taking time to be mindful of this and I am grateful.
I have fought hard to be where I am at this moment. Finding happy has not always come naturally for me.
I was always "high functioning"; a master at disguise and at being tenacious and able to do pretty much whatever I set out to accomplish. People say I am confident, bold, and outgoing when in fact, I have social anxiety. I often feel not part of the "group" and I can have trouble making conversation. But, I was always good at "fake it until you make it".
But all jokes aside...I have struggled.
Even before cancer, many days I was barely able to get out of bed in the morning; many moments I would force myself to leave the house even though my anxiety was at %110 and my heart would be beating 100mph and my stomach felt like I was about to be dropped down a rollercoaster. Many other times I simply was not be able to leave the house... I would cancel plans, make excuses, say I was busy or that I was "sick"... and would miss things like rugby practice or class because I just couldn't conquer fear or the darkness that day... and then guilt would come for "letting people down". Let's not even talk about the many dysfunctional relationships, the excessive amount of nights out and brushing it all off as work hard, play hard.
I drowned myself in "being busy" in an effort to gain control and to prove that I was able to do it. I remember at one point I was managing a resto-cafe full time, curating two gallery spaces, studying full-time at university, managing a bar part-time on the weekends plus working at a school practical at an art therapy program on Sundays. I also had rugby two nights a week and games on Saturdays.
What the fuck was I thinking?
You can not pour from an empty cup
And, one of the most important first steps of my journey toward wellness started with recognizing that I was burning out and experiencing compassion fatigue. I made a promise to myself to focus on self care. I resigned from my outreach support job. I accepted a position back in retail management and focused on growing a new baby inside me.
I had first spoken to a professional for help about my anxiety and depression in 2011 after struggling for years. But, then a week after I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter so I decided not to take the medication he had suggested. After baby arrived, I brought up some physical concerns I had been having but my family doctor brushed them off as something else because I was so young and had just given birth. Now I wonder how many years I had cancer slowly making a home in my body...eating through my colon...blooming like a mushroom? A nasty room-mate who was freeloading off off my all ready long term tenants, anxiety and depression...
And, as some of you may know, cancer can really kick things into a full blown "holy shit" type of ride really fast.
Four months after giving birth to my second daughter (2015) was when I had my cancer diagnosis. Six months after my cancer diagnosis and armpit deep in chemotherapy, I finally decided to finally fully commit to trying medication to help me fight off the darkness. I was tired of feeling so sad and overwhelmed and angry. I knew I deserved better, and that my family deserved better. I knew there must be some kind of "normal" out there that existed where you were able to feel happy for more than a few minute at a time; like a sunbeam cutting briefly through the clouds.
I started a journey into health and wellness two years ago and it has been a year now since I started medication (with several dosage adjustments), regular therapy, and access to a wonderful group of young adult peers via Young Adult Cancer Canada.
Making the choice to start a more "active" treatment in tandem with focusing on proper nutrition, positive mind set and self care, and surrounding myself with positivity and positive people really has helped me start to find balance. My anxiety attacks are lessening, my mood is lighter, I feel less overwhelmed and less angry. I feel like my body and mind have some space to breathe.
I am slowly feeling more like "myself".
I am grateful.
I am striving for balance.
Perhaps it sounds "crunchy" but, I truly believe that a healthy life is all about balance. I am on an ongoing journey to find mine because balance is not static; it is an ongoing dance.
Cancer survivors often talk about a "new normal" post-treatment.
For me, I seek balance in several facets; body, mind and spirit; a holistic approach. This is my "new normal"; finding happy. Thriving; not just surviving.
At the end of treatment I decided to pursue my passion and purpose and graduated as a Certified Holistic Nutrition consultant from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I am now even more aware of my actions and their effects on myself and the people and world around me. I am more aware of how my body runs as a complex machine and how to fuel it for peak performance on physical, cognitive an emotional levels. I love learning about the neurological and physiological relationships that exist in our bodies and how nutrition impacts and supports these interactions and functions. It is like magic and science all rolled up in one.
I love applying my knowledge and experience to continue to grow and to heal... and, to help others and support them in their own journeys toward balance and self-care.
I look forward to working with you,