Surviving Survivorship

“I’m a survivor (what?)
I’m not gon’ give up (what?)
I’m not gon’ stop (what?)
I’m gon’ work harder (what?)
I’m a survivor (what?)
I’m gonna make it (what?)
I will survive (what?)
Keep on survivin'(what?)”

I am a survivor – no longer a CANcer patient. Survivorship is a funny and tricky little thing, as you could imagine. My life is seemingly “back to normal” as many people would say, which I think is mainly symbolized by myself taking on a full-time position in the workforce again. Nothing else much has changed from going through treatment, and recovering through the eight additional months I took following treatment, but I guess we can say that my full-time job means that I am…back to normal…

Survivorship means that you are done the thing. Finished your project (I think I would have gotten an “A+” on my project 🙂 ). You are able to bask in the glory of having a certain life-threatening experience behind you, and it also probably means that you practice gratitude to some extent each and everyday. Maybe your life-threatening experience was not injurious or painful, but maybe it occurred during a split second of a lapse in judgement, poor decision or not looking left AND right before crossing the road. I hear childbirth can get pretty crazy, and if you have experienced it  for yourself, maybe this is that survivorship moment for you. Not only witnessing the miracle of making life, but also avoiding all of the numerous complications during the process, and…surviving!!!

I know we have modern medicine to thank in a huge way here, but you catch my drift.

Survivorship following a CANcer journey, as I mentioned, is quite interesting and if I was a psychotherapist I am sure I would be thrilled to be feeling all the feels and experiencing the effects first hand. But I am not. I am an Environmental Biologist. So let me break it down for you.

First things first: I am happy, pumped, over-the-moon-type proud to be a CANcer survivor. Of course I didn’t grow up with the goal of having this on my resume, but when life throws yah lemons, well… But, if I am being honest, my actual CANcer dis-ease and the treatment I received was a walk in the park compared to survivorship! I had an oncology team that watched my every move, knew exactly what my blood was indicating and the size of my lymph nodes at every step of the game. However, following the last minute of my last treatment, this all changed, and all of a sudden I myself was in charge of interpreting any slight indications my body gave me.

My treatment was successful (hallelujah!) and medically speaking I was “fine”, so out into the world I went, happy and CANcer-free. Except that every time I sneezed, every time I scratched an itch and each time my neck was even the slightest bit sore, I was convinced that I was sick again and that I was back to square one. I would fixate on moles and provide a long and drawn-out justifications to my hubby, Travis, as to why they were irregular and why he should take me into Emergency that very moment.

The associated mental, emotional and coping struggles are a whole other can of worms. BUT, this is not a “poor me” post, it is a lighthouse. Because I found the light and my perspective changed in an instant. Something happened to me this morning that turned my interpretation of my world around me inside out.

I was compelled to reach for my Miracles Now card deck during my morning tea. I shuffled and drew a card that read,

“When I honour my feelings, I find power in powerless situations”.

WHOA! It hit me like a ton of bricks. My CANcer survivorship is my super power! My CANcer journey left me with an incredible and high-level understanding of my body, and how to interpret my feelings and emotions, but I must honour these feelings to cultivate my powers. I am eternally changed from this experience – I now know what the word gratitude symbolizes for me. I now pray and meditate regularly and nourish my body with the best and freshest ingredients I can get my hands on, and I now know that these are some of the things that give me my super powers. It is a gift to able to gain strength from the experiences or tribulations that would otherwise leave us feeling weak and powerless.

And it is up to us to use these powers for good and not evil.

Honouring our feelings is hard, and sometimes involves seeking answers outside of our normal circle of friends and family we talk about this stuff to. Not honouring our feelings, struggles or fears is like ignoring moldy cheese in the fridge – it just grows more fungus and get stinkier as the days go by! Consider counselling or a local or online support group. If you are a Young Adult affected by CANcer, we would love to have you as part of our May Cause Radiance family and support network!

With Love,

Tessa

A funny side note to drawing this card: A week ago, while managing a new full-time job, selling our house, moving and completing my yoga teacher training, I thought “I need some super powers!”. I reached for my beautiful engagement ring that I hadn’t worn for about three months, slipped it onto my finger and truly felt that I was able to draw both energy and serenity from his beautiful stone. I get such a kick out of things that come full circle like this – I believe it is the Universe’s way of telling us we are on the right path. That, and also finding dimes. I have been coming across dimes everywhere lately! 🙂

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