0045 Thrive and Connect: Jennifer’s Cancer Journal – Part 2

Today, Jennifer wants to continue talking directly about her experiences with cancer and the chemotherapy and the impact they are having on her life.

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She is in remission and has 2 courses of chemotherapy left plus radiation. The nausea can be so great that her focus is, at times, just sitting still to avoid throwing up. What makes this especially challenging is that nausea and vomiting are her kryptonite.

Her perception of every day activities has changed. Just trying to get off the couch can be difficult:

  • The chemo weighs her down making getting up extremely strenuous;
  • She can’t stand up;
  • There is a big struggle dealing with the helplessness;
  • She can’t power through the situation, one of her go-to tactics
  • Ben has to get her water when she is only a few feet from the refrigerator.

Another uncomfortable side effect of the chemotherapy is the constipation. It feels like she’s pooping razor blades.

Perspective-wise, Jennifer sees how normal day-to-day activities can be taken for granted.

Another physical aspect is hair loss, something she has been documenting and about which she’s gained a new perspective. Her hair has always been a challenge because it is so curly. When it grows back in she won’t complain.

Physically, in addition to the weakness caused by the chemotherapy she can taste and smell the chemotherapeutic drugs for the first few days after they’ve been administered.

After listening to the first entry in this cancer journal podcast Jennifer saw how she was initially naive as to the toll it takes. She says this feeling some comfort over the fact she has a cancer with a high remission rate. As in the first podcast, she looks for moments of joy and celebrating being with her partner, Ben. He is an archeologist and they will be traveling next year to Italy and Greece. They spend time looking at the places they can visit.

In line with visiting new places, she will be glad when she can eat more than some rice. Although, Jennifer isn’t complaining when they get out of the house and go out to eat. It feels good to get off the couch.

When asked about the possible humiliation the cancer can cause she responded with:

  • Helplessness, for which Ben supplies support. His behavior is humbling for her, which helps keep a positive frame of mind;
  • She feels like she is losing her womanhood. Ben looks past that.
  • On really bad days, Jennifer also worries that Ben is just sticking around until it is over and then he’ll leave. She has learned to take a step back on those days and think, “It will get better than this.”
  • Vulnerability. Jennifer is used to being her own person and doing for herself. The cancer and chemo challenge that way of being which rolls into a feeling of not being worthwhile if she can’t be attractive.

With regards to the above, Jennifer offers some advice:

  • Avoid “Why me?” Yes, the situation is unfair but dwelling on that question can destroy you;
  • Watch out for self-pity. There can be times where it is felt for a moment but avoid living in it;
  • As an Extrovert, she’s learned to occupy her mind as best she can when she has the energy. She spends more time doing deep thinking – an Introvert activity – and is writing “The Lymphoma Diaries;”
  • Use levity, even if it is dark humor. It helps reduce stress;
  • Work to let your care-givers have time to be themselves.
  • In terms of going out in public, it is important to accept yourself as you are, where you are, and just go about your activities. This is easier to do when she is with Ben. When by herself there is the urge to feel self-conscious.
  • Jennifer lacks the urge to hide. She’s learned it is better to think, “Wow, I have the energy today to get out of the house!”

Well, that’s about it.

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