Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Than Negative

Drifting off to sleep at night, so many thoughts flood in, some being what I would consider good to share on this blog. In the morning, those thoughts are gone. Please don't tell me to keep paper and pencil next to the bed to jot down the info. That would require turning on the light, re-engaging the brain which will wake me up! Falling to sleep has always been a challenge for me. My brain is too active day and night . . . alot too active.

Some of you may know the mantra, or at least part of the mantra: If only I was younger,or If I was thinner. . . or I wish my [insert body part] was different. For you men (I’m guessing here): If only my [blank] was bigger/smaller, or If only I had hair, I'd be, , ,. Woulda, coulda, shouda.

Quite a few issues occurred this week that have set off these negative thoughts. One can handle a negative thought. I can do that. I can get the Doris Day, Que sera, sera song going with the best of them. But when many issues and many negative thoughts pile up on me, I don’t do well. Raise your hand if you do. Please.

I have no idea where I’m going with this, but hang on. Maybe we’ll circle back around.

I’m sick of self – myself. Self, self, self. I’m tired of people noticing the length of my hair. I AM more than my hair. I just looked up “self” on and found this:

Noun: An individual person as the object of his own reflective consciousness.

Reflective. Hmmmm. Yeah, been doing that this week. Wondering why I think and feel the way I do. What makes me different from other people? Am I really different? Don’t we all have some insecurity? Fears?

Fears? Oh my. Yeah. Fears that this damn cancer will come back. I hate sneaky people. I hate sneaky cancer. I hate fear. Fear takes away the ability to live your life in the here and now. Fear robs you of looking forward, outward.

Noun: A strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.

In the reflection of this week, I tried to find a metaphor for cancer. While in treatment, I had a purpose, a fight, a battle, a journey. Out of treatment and getting ready for the one year boob squeeze (mammogram), where am I? I need metaphors to get over big issues and negative thoughts. Like the time my doctor introduced the idea of anti-depressants 20 years ago. I didn’t want to take something just to feel normal. And this wonderful doctor said,

Doc: Do you have allergies?
Me: Well of course I do. That’s why I’m here every spring.
Doc: Do the allergies make you not normal?
Me: Okay, doc, where are we going with this weird conversation? No, the allergies don’t make me not normal. . I just have them. A lot of people do!
Doc: You just have them, hmmmm.
Me. Getting ready to roll the eyes. Yeah? So?
Doc: You have a chemical imbalance that causes depression. Just like you need anti-histamines for the allergies, you need anti-depressants for the depression.
Me: Light bulb!

Noun: The use of a word or phrase to refer to something that it isn't, invoking a direct similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described.

And my metaphor for cancer is tooth decay. I know there is decay somewhere in my teeth. It’s inevitable. It may not show up at my dental appointment this coming Friday. It may not show up at the one 6 months from now. I eat sweets, I don’t brush my teeth 3 times a day and I don’t floss twice a day. But do I worry about the tooth decay? Is our life all about tooth decay? No and no.

My apologies to anyone reading this blog that may be dealing with Stage IV cancer or a more life-threatening cancer than my Stage 1 Grade 3 TNBC. My intent is not to downplay the seriousness of cancer or offend.

Worrying and having fear about the cancer returning robs me of my laughter and my joy. It robs me of living in the present. Worrying about the future is powerless. I like what this person has to say about worry

Worry is proportional to our sense of security. When life is going as planned and we feel safe in our life routines, then worries subside. Likewise, worry increases when we feel threatened, insecure or are overly focused on and committed to some result.

So, I’m going to live my life with possible tooth decay. But I am not going to BE tooth decay. If and when the tooth decay is discovered, I will deal with it then. And I'll continue to speak to the negative thoughts and do my best to turn them around to positive thoughts.

Sending you many hugs, I remain . . .



  1. Good post - good metaphor!!!

    I'm also like you, with the sleep. Have thoughts, but do not want to turn on the light - although I have, yet want the sleep, but sometimes finally get it if I write some things down.

    Also, not good with too many negative issues going on at one time, nope, nope, nope, not me either.

    Well will be praying you won't find anymore "tooth decay"!!!
    Love, Dawn

  2. Those middle of the night thoughts can be tough-the what ifs, etc.

    At least tooth decay stays in the tooth and isn't as sneaky as you know what.

    My metaphor for cancer are terrorist cells-planning secret attacks-you don't know when or where but they can be deadly and take out the innocent.

    As time goes on, we should be able to breathe a little easier. Lots of the recurrences happen in the first year with this evil beast and you are close to your first anniversary.

    My hair, which I have cursed in the past for being particularly fast growing, is staying put at a half inch. People keep saying 'it will grow back' as it usually does but I think an exception is being made for me.

  3. Hi Renee, thanks for sharing your thoughts, it helps. At what point are we 'survivors'? For TNBC it seems like if it hasn't reoccurred in 3 years (from original diagnosis?)you can breathe easier... I want to be able to write that on my calendar somewhere.

  4. Hi Renee.

    Thank you for this post Renee. It makes a lot of us feel that we are not alone with our fears of it returning. For me, I seem to be fine if I am out doing the things I like but as soon as I try to relax or sleep those thoughts always return. Sleep, sometimes I wonder what that word means.
    It's hard to stay positive but hopefully one day in the future we will be able to do it.


  5. Renee - I am right there with you sister! woulda, coulda, shoulda....

    hugs and love from Holly in Los Angeles....

  6. Renee,

    It's a tough journey. When I was first diagnosed, I didn't want to talk about cancer with anyone ... even if they had had cancer. I didn't want to have anything to do with it.

    Today is a different day and I can deal with it differently.

    All the best to you,

  7. Renee, we've been in lockstep through this whole nightmare and I'm with you now. While sleeplessness doesn't plague me (I pass out) - I can say during the quiet of the day, I worry, I fret and I shed oceans of tears about the future.

    No one knows more than a cancer patient about learning to live with uncertainty. This almost seems as tough as the initial diagnosis.

    You're in my prayers sweetie. Things will look up soon.


  8. Over the past few days I've thought of myself as a tree blooming in the Spring. All those beautiful blooms, and you can hardly see any green. Then wham - a big windy storm hits and all the blooms are gone just like that. But there are always seasons, and next year the tree will be taller and bloom again.

  9. Renee, my time is usually 3am, I wake up the brain is in overdrive with all the questions but no answer to the what ifs....

    hang in there we are right there holding you up....


  10. It is wonderful to have your support. I am so glad that we are here for each other. Even tho I may not comment on everyone's blogs, I do read them!

    Beth - I've heard that the anniversary date is when the cancer/tumor was diagnosed. I've chosen to set the anniversary date of when the darn thing came out. Since I was diagnosed in June and waited until Aug 20 for the surgery, for me that feels right.

  11. Renee, I almost stood up and gave a standing ovation after reading this post. You are amazing- your way with words-- amazing. You are such a comfort to others going through the same. You are a huge comfort to me. I wish you would write a book. Thank God you write this-- it is... well, there are no words to match your wit, your intelligence, your down to earth, realistic approach to getting through every day, your honesty. Thank you for sharing. Would you mind if I shared your tooth decay take/metaphor with others-- this is too good to not share.
    Much love from ATX,

  12. Leah,

    Feel free to use anything from this blog!

    When I read other blogs, I have light bulb moments . . others' words help put my thoughts INTO words. It gets the ruminating, swirling thoughts into something concrete. Once concrete, the feeling/emotion is so much easier for me to deal with. It's that blasted rumination that gets me!

    Much love and hugs to you my little sister,