Learning to Live With a Post-Cancer Body


My yard is completely blanketed by leaves.  The sunshine and shading from the surrounding trees make a beautiful canvas of browns and greens.  Lately I’ve found myself chomping at the bit to have my run out in the woods.  It’s more like a walk these days.  I jog when I can, but if I run too fast, Pup seems to wander around lost a bit more, probably due to his cataracts, and maybe a bit of old dog confusion.  It keeps me from going too fast, so I don’t mind.  If I feel like running more, then I’ll bring him back to the house and run up and down the street for a couple of minutes.

My days revolve around my morning blogging now.  On days where I have something urgent I feel I need to take care of I reluctantly give up blogging.  I blog until late in the morning, and then do my meditating, and then out for an hour as I walk/run/jog.  In the afternoon I do yoga and then another yoga and meditation before bed at night.  Bills and paperwork are scattered throughout my day.

My world has opened up since my doctor prescribed ativan for me.  Sleep is more difficult to attain, but the back-twisting, hot flash-inducing, depression-inducing stress have all but dissipated.  Just having that removed from my life has made sleep easier.  I don’t miss the efficient hammer-on-the-head-go-to-sleep job that the ambien was doing.  Much of this has been learning how to change my bedtime routine to support relaxing myself to sleep.  No more Netflix or gaming before bed.  Just reading and meditating, and maybe an hour of an audible story.

My chiropractor told me that stress has a very physiological and chemical response.  With the ativan I’ve been able to experience a complete reverse of that in my body.

It’s taken years and years and years since my cancer treatments (2001) to learn about my new body.  The mastectomies left my chest so tight, that between the radiation damage and the vice grip tightness of my chest, my heart can’t seem to pump as fully.  Losing all of my reproductive organs has left my visceral cavity filled with scar tissue, chronic back pain, ulcers, diverticulities, and hot flashes which have never disappeared.  The left side of my body is numb from nerve damage.  If I’m not careful, my left ankle will collapse on me out of nowhere and crash me to the ground.  My left leg will not strengthen the same way my right leg will.  I developed chronic knee pain on the left side because of tai chi.  I suspect only certain muscles will work and the damaged parts don’t work as well.

All this to say, it’s been a learning experience — what sorts of exercises work and which ones hurt me more; and how much I can push myself.  I’ve learned to be completely at peace with the fact that certain drugs make my body and mind function better and without them life is nothing but days under my covers, just counting the days till I die.  Just this year I have made a promise to myself that no matter what anyone else tells me, I will follow my own path in living my life the way I need to.  I’m not going to feel guilty or apologize to anyone for who I am, and I’m not going to change my drug regimen or exercise regimen because some person who believes everyone belongs in a cubbyhole tries to pressure me to.  I’ve done that over and over in the past, always with an attitude that the problem in my life is ME.  The problem in my life is not ME but the world’s expectations of who I am supposed to be.

So here I am being defensive about telling you I will never be defensive about who I am!  Zip!  That’s said and done with.  I will go and meditate now, and have another gorgeous run/walk/jog through the woods with Pup with his tail straight up, wagging and sniffing, and, smiling, trotting behind to catch up to me.  Then I’ll have lunch, do my yoga, and then more yoga and meditate tonight.  I must keep my mind sharp for tomorrow’s Daily Prompt!

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Learning to Live With a Post-Cancer Body

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