35. Living in fear

It’s been a while eh? I guess I’ve maybe been afraid to share my thoughts with you recently because some of them have been dark and I spent a bit of time living in fear. I wrote about it but decided not to share, maybe I will down the line but it’s a place I’ve managed to leave again and I’m in a better head space now. The reason I was living in fear was because I let the possibility of my future health or lack of get in my head and I also listened to people who told me I had to accept that my future was now management of cancer rather than being free of it. Not the nicest thing to hear even if it does come from a place of concern. I had planned on getting a clear scan and maintaining my healthy body myself. I didn’t want to keep going back to Istanbul for maintenance chemo. It didn’t make sense to me. Why keep putting poison in a now healthy body? Wouldn’t it do it more harm than good?

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I took a couple of weeks off after getting a clear scan and had some nice head space. Well, a small bit. People were concerned and wanted to know what I was going to do next. We’re just worried about you… better not fuck it up or make the wrong decision! That was really annoying. I had just spent more than a year, every single day, focusing on getting well. Now I was well. Can’t I enjoy that for a while? Apparently not. So I’m back on the merry-go-round now. I’ve just completed my 9th trip to Istanbul. I thought I’d be done after 5. But you know what? It’s not as hard this time. Yes I’ve been really, physically ill, worse than before. But mentally, I’m stronger. I’m putting my focus into other things which has been a real help. I have spent the last 16 months of my life focusing on cancer and getting well. Now I have made space for some new and exciting things to happen in my life and it feels really, really good. I’ll share my plans a little later in this post!

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So why am I going back to Istanbul again? Well the doctors say that the risk of recurrence in the first few months is very high. And I have met someone who got a clear scan and had a recurrence only a couple of months later. So that gave me a bit of a reality check. The doctors have also said that if it comes back, it will be like a truck going downhill without breaks. And it will be resistant to treatment. Something I have seen happen to another client in the clinic. The experiences of others has helped me to make some decisions which I made from a place of fear. But it is a rational fear. It’s a normal type of fear, one I think anyone who has ever had cancer can resonate with. I didn’t want to live in fear of it coming back. I wanted to be free of it. But it seems that is never going to be the case. A trip to my therapist helped me re-frame the way I was viewing it. Sometimes we need to have fear to help us make the right decision. Fear exists to keep us safe. If it’s irrational and unwarranted, then we have a problem. I feel OK with my fears now. For everything a reason. I was almost fearless and invincible for most of this journey so far. Maybe a bit too fearless. But it got me to a really good place and I’m very proud of that. Am I wrong to let some fear guide my choices now? Or do I trust in the process and trust that my decisions are right. It all feels pretty good and right at the moment so I guess it is! My next scan is in a couple of weeks’ time and I’m really excited about it. My friend Jess is coming with me and will be there for the result. I can taste the sweet success already!

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So what does the future entail after my next clear scan? Well according to my doctors, it’s all about minimising risk now and keeping my body cancer free. So that may mean surgery and ongoing chemo for the foreseeable. I struggled a bit with the suggestion at first and honestly, I have resisted chemo up until now, even though I was getting it. I called it poison. I hated it. It made me ill and it made me balk at the thoughts of it. A friend in the clinic wrote about how it is sweet medicine for her, how it is keeping her alive. Her thoughts on it have helped me think differently about it. My doctor said its doing me good, he’s been saying that for a long time. I couldn’t think about it that way. It’s chemotherapy, its poison. It damages the body beyond repair. It’s toxic, it’s bad for you. I was so negative about it. So negative that I’m surprised it has actually worked! My view of it was so opposite of what I wanted to be doing to my body. I wanted to heal myself with juices, cannabis oil, natural supplements. I wanted to do that so badly but it didn’t work for me. I wanted a healthy body so badly. And I got it. But not in the way I expected. The universe provides but it delivers what you want in a way you aren’t expecting. The how is not up to us. We can get what we ask for but how it is delivered is a surprise. Chemotherapy was the vessel. And it still is. I am slowly coming around to the idea that it is good for me. Even typing those words seems so wrong, it’s like it goes against a core belief. But it has saved my life. It is keeping me healthy. I would be mad to go against it. So for now, I’m going with it. And if things change, then they change. I never thought I would do chemotherapy but here I am. And I’m better for it. You just don’t know what is around the corner!

Now for my exciting news. Well you might not find this as exciting as I do but I’ll tell you anyway! I decided in the summer that I’d need to keep an eye on my body with regular scans after I got the all clear. I decided that I would use thermography scans to do that as they are non-invasive and wouldn’t damage my body with contrast dyes or radioactive material or radiation. I was going to do them monthly to keep a close eye on myself. They can detect anomalies in blood flow and body temperature which can identify tumour growth. I have already had scans that I can compare the results to so for me, it was a no brainer. The scans are expensive so I thought, sure why not get the equipment myself and learn how to use it? It will save me money in the long term and I’ll be able to do as many scans as I want. Well a perfect opportunity has come my way and I have been lucky enough to be offered the chance to train in thermography. This month, I will be training with one of Ireland’s only thermographers, Liz Nagle, a wonderful lady who has been a massive help to me on this journey. I will be spending a couple of days training in both Dublin and London in the coming weeks and will be up and running in the new year and ready to see clients. So I will not only be able to keep an eye on myself with these scans, but I will be providing a service for others to be able to see what is going on inside their bodies in a non-invasive way too. Thermography can be used to identify a variety of health issues including dental health, sports injuries, inflammation, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and more but I have used it mainly to identify issues with my breast health. If you’d like to know more about breast thermography, please have a read of this article. I will be sharing more information on my Facebook page in the near future and will be launching my business in the New Year. Stay tuned, exciting times ahead! I am finally going back to work and doing something worthwhile with my life. It’s a great relief for me to be able to focus my attention and energy on something positive and different to cancer. It has given me a new lease of life to be honest. It has made these recent months and visits to Istanbul more bearable. In the middle of all this, Ali has turned three, my hair fell out again after growing to a glorious one centimetre and we are in the process of moving house. Everything is happening at the one time, it’s hectic but it’s all good. Our new home is so beautiful, it’s by the river in Tarmonbarry in Roscommon and it is where I will be working from. I’m almost finished decorating my office and it’s a lovely, tranquil space. I’m really happy at the moment. And that bit of fear that is dictating my trips to Istanbul is minimal in comparison.

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Happy Christmas everybody! It’s going to be a good one this year! Last year, I drank three litres of vegetable juice on Christmas day and ate a vegan dinner. This year I’m letting myself off the hook and having all the trimmings with a few hot ports too. Tis the season! Fa la la la lahhhh!

 

2 comments

  1. Amazing as always Mairead, I thought you were going to say you were going into the writing world because you are SUCH a brilliant writer. You are uplifting and the inspirational word doesn’t even cut it! Delighted for you and very best of luck in your new venture. I live in London and it’s probably not possible but would love to meet you. Happy Christmas to you and your lovely family and enjoy enjoy enjoy!

  2. So happy you have clean scans!!! That is my dream! One day. I am also on chemotherapy which is part of a clinical trial for Metastatic Breast Cancer here in NYC. Had my 10th round on Tuesday. Not my ideal treatment, but it’s keeping me alive right now so I would be a fool not to do it. Also I am juicing and doing a lot of Reiki. All my love and good wishes for continued healing and strength! Xoxo

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