The days of post treatment can seem very long and whether it is the dismal November weather, the grim political situation or just the infinitesimally small steps to recovery it can make for a depressing time. I think I am generally of a cheery disposition but I find it hard to remain so all the time. And I know I am not alone in this. Many speak of the difficulties of adjusting to life post treatment.
We are told we need to adjust to a ‘new normal’. To embrace our ‘new selves’. And many find this a pivotal moment in their lives when new ventures are launched, new paths taken and all sorts of developments occur. Personally, I just want the old me back. I have done the reinvention before. I do not have the energy to do it again.
However, I do see the need to address the miserableness. Cancer has taken much from me but I will not allow it to take the joy from life. One of the blogs I read is by the fabulous Liz O’Riordan, a breast surgeon who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She writes with warmth, wit and great insight and I love her posts. She has recently delivered a TEDx talk based on her experience which you can see in full here:
I promise, it is fifteen minutes of your life that will be well spent. Ever wanted to know how to support someone with cancer? She covers it brilliantly. Ever wanted to know your porn star name? That too is covered! She also speaks of one her coping strategies for seeing the joy in life. Creating a jar of joy. And this appealed to me. So I have made my own.
I have taken my Emma Bridgewater Trophy Wife urn (the 28th wedding anniversary present from the Captain remember?), because just thinking about it makes me smile. Next to it I have placed a jar of cards and a pen. The card jar was a delightful gift from a friend and is already a variation on this theme. It has pre-printed messages that I have been taking out and reading to cheer me up. I am now re-using them for a double whammy. So the first moment of joy in my trophy jar is written on the back of ‘Only your real friends tell you when your face is dirty’. This pleases me. A lot.
Once I began, I found moments kept coming to me: my darling granddaughter allowing me to wear a yellow duster on my head on Sunday (a rare privilege!); enjoying the taste of coffee again; walking to the shops without becoming breathless. I could go on. Having begun this way, I decided to limit myself to one written one each day but am delighted that this triggers other joyful memories. At this rate, my cup will overflow very soon!