I felt the need to write this post while I was driving home tonight. We all have things that flash us back to our cancer journey, and a lot of the time we tend to talk about the experiences/memories that cause negative feelings or anxiety. For example, we talk about scan days and “scanxiety,” which brings back memories of when we were getting diagnosed with cancer or checking the status of our cancer. Another big example for me, and this happens randomly, is seeing new pregnancies, births, or anything baby related. This can be on social media, in the store, etc. My mind connects it back to my hysterectomy, those heartbreaking emotions that came from it, and the painful reminder that I can never carry a child of my own. Being mindful of these “things” that cause flashbacks and connections to our cancer journey is very important and I believe it helps us heal and work towards total health. However, I believe it is important to share the positive flashbacks and connections too, and that’s what I want to do today! 🙂
I want to share two things that happen to me that bring me back to positive moments during my cancer journey. These two things occurred during my second cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma). *Side note: the majority of these blog topics relate to my second cancer. I was older, more open, and willing to take in and discuss everything that was happening to me.
The first connection is music. Music is very powerful on many levels and I can tie many songs to many experiences in my life, cancer-related or not. During treatment I was extremely weak and fatigued, and I was not allowed (mom’s orders) to go or do many things by myself. My mom was with me 99% of the time, which I was okay with, but sometimes I just needed to get away and be with myself and my thoughts. I needed to feel like a “normal” 23-year old again. I had a handful of times where I found enough energy and convinced my mom to let me drive and walk around Target alone. It was right down the street and who doesn’t love to walk around Target? My first time getting to do this by myself the song “Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly/Camila Cabello came on. I have no idea why, but I will always remember the way I felt when I heard this song for the first time, driving alone down the street to the store. I turned it up very loud and felt so free being in the driver seat of my car taking myself somewhere. Again, the lyrics of the song do not relate to me or my cancer, its about a relationship. It was just that song at that moment that I will never forget. I still love the song and every time I hear it I flash back to that moment and those feelings of freedom, happiness, and independence.
The second connection is driving with the windows down. This happened to me today, which is what compelled me to write this! It was 65 degrees out today, and despite everything being wet, muddy, and melting, it still felt amazing outside! It was gloomy and raining, but when I was done with my errands and driving home, the rain had stopped. I was 10 minutes from home and I was able to roll my windows down, stick my hand out of the car, and feel the breeze in the car and against my hand. Doing this brought back the memories of my long 5-day hospital stays for chemo. I was not able to leave the hospital or go outside for that week of chemo, and by the fifth day I was irritable and exhausted. My team discharged me the second my bladder protectant medicine stopped running, and this usually ended around 5am Saturday morning (chemo was Mon-Fri). We made our way downstairs with our week-long luggage, gifts, food, etc. I always overpack…even to a hospital haha. I had to be brought down in a wheelchair and I sat while I waited for my mom to pull up the car. The second I saw the car I was ecstatic to walk outside, breathe in the fresh air, and get in it to head home to my bed and my cats. During the car ride home (it was only about 15 minutes) I always rolled the windows down and stuck my hand out to feel the breeze. I usually rested my bald head near the window too to feel the breeze on my head. I had been deprived of fresh air and the outside world for a week, so those moments leaving the hospital felt amazing. We often do not realize how important those little things can be until they are taken away. Even when it was a little too chilly for my mom (never for me…thanks menopause) I ALWAYS did the same thing. So now when it is nice enough outside like today was, I pull those windows down and feel the fresh air and let it bring me back to those positive memories of when I finished chemo and got to go home, being one step closer to the finish line.
I am glad I decided to share these positive connections with you all. As we know, there are positive and negatives to every experience in our life. The same goes during your journey with cancer. I think about my experience with cancer every single day. Some days it is random, brief, and passes by before I could give it much thought. Other days it is heavier, with the negative flashbacks and connections consuming me with anxiety and sadness. And then there are days like today, where those moments as simple as driving with the windows down puts a smile on my face and reminds me that I am so grateful to be here and feeling that fresh air.
PLEASE tell me some of your positive connections you have to your cancer journey or any signifiant experience in your life! 🙂