When do you know you’ve Healed?We are all healing from something. It could be as simple as you failed a test or as complex as the death of a parent or spouse. It could be physical, like a broken limb or a heart attack. Whatever it is, how do we know when we’ve actually healed? Is there a sign? Does someone tell us? Do we just get that inner memo and somehow know we have completed the healing process? I read a quote this morning that I felt answered this question for me. “When you can tell your story, and it doesn’t make you cry, that’s when you know you’ve healed”. Darn, I thought I was so close, but here I sit typing through my tears, so I guess that means I’m not quite done. I’ve made a lot of progress though. I have days when I think I’m done, and think this is behind me. There are days when I am able to speak positively about my experience and there is not a tear to be seen or felt. Some days the subject arises and I feel the tears just beginning but I am able to keep them at bay. This, I think is progress. Then I ask myself, what is it that I’m even crying about? Is it the memory of what I have been through? Is it for the pain or fear that I felt? Is it for the sense of loss that comes with what I experienced? Maybe the loss of time? The harsh wake up call that I was dealt? Fear of the future? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a little bit of all of these. I sometimes try to come up with the perfect description in my head for what it feels like to have had cancer and how it changes your life forever. I’m not exactly sure why I feel the need to do this, but strangely, I enjoy pondering this subject. The first thought that I particularly connected with is the one-way door. Cancer is like a one-way door. Once you’ve stepped through, you can never go back. It’s not a door you would choose, but a door that you were pushed through, and once on the other side, you are forced to choose a new path, as the old one is no longer available to you. One day while I was planning a trip, another version popped into my head “It’s like a one-way ticket someplace”. Well, it’s a variation on the theme. Hmm, I thought. Is a one-way ticket so bad? Have you ever imagined just throwing caution to the wind and taking a one-way ticket to a new life? Who knows what excitement, adventure and fun could be found in this new destination. This is how I truly feel about my life since my cancer diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong, who wants cancer! If I could go back and change the fact that I ever had it in the first place, I would! However, now that it is part of my reality, I have chosen to make the very best of it. Sure, my life will never be the same. But wait! What if my life could actually be better? Is that possible? For me, the unlikely answer is YES! My life is better and richer in so many ways.
Where do I begin?
I have new friends in my life.Let me start at the beginning with all the incredibly, wonderful, kind, caring doctors, nurses and surgeons that helped me. They were there for me during those dark, scary early days of diagnosis when you don’t know what’s going on and what the future holds, or scarier yet, if you even have a future. Many of them are still with me now celebrating my recovery and good health. My husband was continually saying throughout my treatment, “these people couldn’t be more genuine, kind and helpful”. I am grateful everyday for the care I received. I am honored to know these people and happy to still have relationships and friendships with some of them to this day.
I’m closer to the important people in my life.My incredible husband! There isn’t enough space here to do him justice. Let me just say, that I am the luckiest woman in the world. He helped me through this by being endlessly kind, caring and funny! It’s important to have humor when you’re dealing with such a thing. He nursed me back to health. Fed me well. Styled my hair. Chauffeured me everywhere. Pampered me and indulged my every whim. He was there from the first moment and never for a second did I not feel fully supported and loved. This made healing a whole lot easier! As a result of going through this, our relationship is stronger and deeper than ever. I am forever grateful to him. My friends and family! I am so touched by what people did for my husband and me. The incredible friend who drove 2 hours, leaving her young baby with a friend, to sit with my husband during my first surgery. For my precious friend who visited me in hospital that first night, after a long, difficult day of her own. For all the notes and calls, flowers and cards. I particularly treasure the long letters I received from my brother and sister-in-law throughout my recovery. They took time out of their busy lives to write long letters to let me know they were thinking about me, to keep my spirits up and just to make me laugh. Mission accomplished!
Ways I treat myself better.I have more compassion for myself than I ever had. I no longer put unreasonable demands on myself, or beat myself up about not being as perfect as I think I should be. I now treat my body like the temple it is! I changed my diet dramatically and ironically; feel better now than I have in years. I’m doing a much better job of not worrying about absolutely everything (like I used to)! I have looked deep inside myself and faced some demons. I’ve forgiven my mother and freed myself from the heavy weight of carrying that anger around for so many years. I finally shared a BIG family secret that I had kept for 27 years. I feel a great burden has been lifted. I have a newfound connection to the universe. I have realized the importance of being connected to “something” and I’m enjoying this exploration. I closed my stress causing, soul-destroying business and I’m back in school learning about all things health and nutrition.