I have been writing a long post about recovery, being home, the Seahawks, opera and family. I have been working on it for three weeks and keep revising and discarding it. If is full of joy and optimism and it isn’t true. I am home, I am recovering well, I am surrounded by great, caring people, everything is going my way, and I am despondent. What the hell? I have absolutely no reason to be anything but euphoric. I am done radiation, I am fairly sure that I am cancer-free, and I am slowly regaining some energy. What is going on?
My first week home I was full of energy, cheerful and optimistic. It was great to be surrounded by caring people and I was ready to take on new challenges and get back to work. Despite a huge snowfall I felt like it was spring. By last week I was sliding and struggling. I know this isn’t depression; I have lots of experience with depression and this isn’t it. I think I was so focused on finishing in Seattle that I didn’t think very much about what would come next. In a strange way, I am missing radiation and the cancer house.
I talked to a friend, Judi Wallace, last week. Judi has “danced with cancer” (her metaphor, which I love) and has been very helpful to me on my journey. We talked about my transition from a highly structured and medically focused world, where I had daily treatments, appointments with nurses and doctors and was immersed in cancer, to life at home. Judi shared that I am not alone in having difficulty adjusting to a “new normal” after cancer care.
Cancer has been much of my identity for the past eight months. I need to break free from that and create a post-cancer life. I can do this. I need to seize this as a second chance, a new start. I have all the support that I need, opportunities for great work; I just need to embrace this. I am optimistic that I can live a joyful, calm and productive life (well, after Sunday. It is amazing how much brain space preparing to watch the Seahawks deflate New England can consume.)