Dec 4, 2016

THE NEW NORMAL? After cancer....






It's a weird place I'm in right now, I can't even put my finger on it but I need to try.
I haven't blogged much recently because I've felt a bit miserable, and then I felt guilty for feeling miserable, because I've finished chemo and I've been wishing for that day since the beginning of all this.
The only conclusion I can come to for me being so down in the dumps is that because my body has gone from having a hell of a lot of female hormones, to basically having none, it's messing with my head a bit. Let me tell you, going through a chemical menopause at 29 IS NOT FUN! It basically means constant hot flashes (during Australian summer where basically every single day is 35 degrees or higher) and quite a few mood swings.

I feel a little bit lost, a little bit confused. I also have this desperate need for answers about life and about what the hell this planet full of humans is doing here and why.

I have mentioned on the blog before that throughout my life I have felt this certainty, until now, I have felt in control, I felt like I knew I would have 'trials' in life, I knew that in order to grow as a human I would experience things and situations and I would evolve and become wiser.

It's just that I thought those things came under categories like 'finance', 'children and parenting', 'relationships', 'career', 'family' and I was mentally prepared for those things. I feel like I know how to handle those things. There's gut instincts, there's personal experience and there's even books on how to handle it all. Not to mention, constant TV shows, articles in magazines etc.

But cancer, I was not mentally prepared for. That had never even entered my mind. 

I can deal with the treatment, it's hard, it's unlike anything I've ever experienced before but there's Doctors, there's support from family and friends and there's a whole wide world of information and support groups on the internet for those 3am googling needs, to find out if the chest pain, nausea, hot flushes, weird feeling in your legs is normal or not. It's so clinical, the needles, the scans, the constant undressing for Doctors, (that sounds weird but you know what I mean, obviously with breast cancer, Drs can't examine you with a top/bra on and you can't have radiation with a top on either) I've had to do it so many times I don't even feel weird about it anymore. 

But it's the stuff that people can't answer that freaks me out and I guess, now that I have finished chemo I'm just starting to process all the emotions, the (for lack of a better word) 'journey' I've been on, instead of focusing on just feeling healthy enough to get out of bed that day. I'm having radiation and I am feeling SO MUCH physically better, which feels incredible, after months of feeling like utter shite.

But there are other factors in this whole thing, that aren't just physical....

You see the thing cancer showed me is that we are not invincible. I'm not an idiot, I know that everybody dies and that I too would die one day (obviously when I'm past 100, and I die peacefully in my bed in my mansion, surrounded by a family that adores me...) but I always thought it was something to deal with later. Now I still plan on dealing with it much later, I plan on living to at least 100 but the thing is, after being so confronted by the real possibility of death. I'll never forget the words "if you don't have chemo, there's a 40% chance you'll be dead within five years". Now I know that is just a statistic and that what I had isn't a death sentence, it's just that the possibility of it actually seemed real to me for the first time in my life and for a 28 year old woman with two young children as well as all the other people I love in my life, was some scary shit.

I have put everything I have into my recovery; Mentally, and physically. I am my second week into radiation now, which means my last chemo was over 4 weeks ago. My hair is growing back and physically I am getting better every day, feeling better every day and that will only continue to get better as I finish the radiation.

Whilst going through chemo you are in fight mode and I know that I was using all my mental energy to push myself to get through the pain and all the shit chemo brings with it to get through the day, to get through the tough times and I hardly even thought about the whole 'cancer' thing. But now....I'm feeling weird. I'm feeling lost, I'm feeling philosophical.....

Spiritual stuff scares me. I was quite happy, going along my everyday life, with my relationship, my kids, my art, my friends and family, reality TV, dreams of being rich and famous, being my life. I was happy, putting my all into a perfect instagram shot, I was happy finding the perfect Christmas gifts for my kids, I was happy doing normal, simple stuff. But now....everything I do is shadowed, or at least with the thought in the back of my head, that this life could end. You put your heart and soul into creating this amazing life, just for it to be taken away one day?

I don't know why this never freaked me out before! It scares the living crap out of me now. I was thinking maybe I should delve into the spiritual world, try and get some answers, try not to be scared of the unknown but in all honesty, I am too scared, I don't like stuff like that!!

I guess what I'm trying to say, through this inane rambling is. How can I live, knowing it's all going to end, how can I give everything I have to something, when one day, I'll just be nothing? I hope to God that in time this will pass, that I'll stop seeing everything as some giant philosophical question, that I can just be happy in the moment, instead of questioning it all.

Whether I like it or not, I am a completely different person now. I can't pretend to be the same person I was before all this, I can't even remember what it felt like. I have to try and become the best version of the new me and try and find my new normal.

And even though it's confusing and at times I sit on my couch and cry because I feel so damn tired from all the radiation, the chemo that is still in my system and just tired of being tired!! I'm lucky that I've got the chance to do all that. I have the time to process these emotions and one day, I hope, I will be able to get through a whole day without desperately wishing for a nap, one day I'll be able to do all the things I've been dreaming of and one day I will have come to terms with all this shitty cancer stuff and look back, calmly and be a stronger woman because of it.

It's just not going to happen instantly, maybe in my mind I thought I'd finish chemo and I would go back to normal and feel amazing again and it just doesn't work that way.....

As a bit of a silver lining though, I have put all these feelings and questions to good use. As you probably know Ihave been working on my third book for almost three years now. I wanted this one to be my most 'grown up' book yet, influenced by amazing storytellers like Jodi Picoult and Lianne Moriarty, I wanted to write a book that would stay with people, that would move people. For some reason I decided to give one of the main characters breast cancer. I have no idea why I made that decision, I had no experience with any kind of cancer, not with me or anyone in my close friends of family, then two years after writing that in, I go and get breast cancer. Way to connect with your characters Hayley haha. But last week, I sat down at my desk and did over 8 hours of writing. The chapters just seemed to write themselves.

It's not my story but I definitely had a lot more to give to make the character authentic. And don't worry it's not all about breast cancer and doom and gloom, there's a pretty epic love story in there too.

I am so glad I have my writing to help me through, it is literally my therapy!

Love Hayley xx

To read my previous books, click on the link below. Or you can search 'Wallflower' or 'Sunflower' by Hayley Howard (it won't let me change my name now, since it's been published, so annoying) on your preferred way of reading. It's available internationally on amazon, ibooks, barnes and noble and kobo as an ebook.

WALLFLOWER

SUNFLOWER
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