Having been in a monogamous relationship since my early 20s, and having maintained a number of close friendships for longer than that, I’m fortunate to have trust and loyalty woven into the fabric of my life. Trustworthy relationships give you confidence and optimism and a strong sense of who you are.
So when my own body let me down so spectacularly, my response to its treachery was dramatic. Given it’s only five months since I was diagnosed, I haven’t really had time to process these emotions but I’ve found myself pondering it a great deal in the post-radiotherapy shake down.
As is always the way, I suppose, I didn’t see this betrayal coming. In fact in times gone by, if I read a trashmag article like ‘Tana Ramsay’s heartbreak’ or whatever I’d think “How’re they going to come back from that? Thank God that’s not me!” then shudder before turning the page (you know that feeling, right?!)
When I look back on the early posts of this blog, it’s easy to see the naiveté and denial therein. Back then, I really struggled to reconcile the way I saw myself with the reality of my situation. In fact, let’s face it, this is an ongoing struggle for me.
But it’s little wonder the news was met with (metaphorical) fast head shaking. I hardly drank alcohol. Hadn’t smoked for ten years. Practiced yoga every day. Ate well. Loved my family, my friends, my work, my life. I was one of the healthiest people I knew. What’s a person like me doing with cancer?
People keep telling me that I need to be kind to myself. I’m not entirely sure what this means, although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean the kind of self talk I’ve subjected myself to lately.
“SO you want to start exercising again, huh? Get the ‘yoga glow’? You could, but what’s the point? You looked after yourself before and look what happened. So have a drink! And some chips and chocolate. Fuck it all. Why bother?”
Now treatment is over, I can start exercising again. There’s nothing stopping me…except me. When the gremlin speaks up, I try and talk it down. Ah, but if I hadn’t lived healthily, maybe I’d have had a more aggressive cancer? Who’s to say my lifestyle didn’t, in fact, make my position less grave?
In the meantime the little bastard is doing a pretty good job of stopping me from starting. But you and I both know I will get over myself. I’ll be nervous as hell before going into the yoga class, but I’ll go in. I’ll wince as I open my arms, feel the tightness that may never go away as I stretch my irradiated left side. My eyes will water when I try and reach my toes. My mind will race through the meditation. That night I will sleep deeply and the next day I will wake up sore and I’ll go back and little by little I will limber up once more.
But – it’s a big but – will I ever really trust my body again?