Daily Struggles

I used to think that there was nothing worse than dying of cancer…

After five+ years (and fast approaching almost six years) I have found that there is…

Cancer drastically changes your outlook on life and affects every aspect of your living experience. I think it must be the mortality issues it drags along with it – as if you don’t have enough to deal with…

Cancer… for me… has led to the absolute destruction of my creative confidence….

Nothing is worse than actually fearing EVERYTHING! Second guessing – mind games and then succumbing to reality that why bother cos none of this matters in the end… anyway???

I am convinced that I have PTSD. Other times I think I am just depressed – as in SAD… No! I am not suicidal thank you very much! I already have something waiting to kill me!

I do not want to stop living, on the contrary, I want to live and love and thrive! I don’t feel worthless or unworthy… I do however feel sad and afraid.

Afraid of everything… everything…

On bad days I sit and stare into space. A Writer who can’t write. A Photographer who can’t take a photograph. A Filmmaker that can’t make a film. Somedays I can’t even express myself and just nonsense (interspersed with expletives) pours out of my mouth!

It’s not that I don’t want to… I really want to but feel I just CAN’T – I feel incapable… And even if I try my mind tells me ‘This is Shit!’  I am often stumped by this behaviour – its destructive – self annihilating! Who is this person? Has my life come to this? How???

I look in the mirror and don’t recognise the person staring back at me. The physical changes of my body is a battle by itself but something I am learning to cope with. It’s terrible realising that you are aging and then ontop of that you realise that chemo has added another ten years of fat and wrinkles *crying face* to your physical being.

I often talk about the aging process with my husband. It usually starts with a look in the mirror after a shower and then escalates dramatically to going to Ma’ruf and saying: “Why the F#@$ has my underarms become so flabby (while flapping arms frantically back and forth) I have grown wings!”… Then proceeds to poke at inner thighs – “Look here man! What the hell is this Shit? Jelly wobble… Gross shaking inner thighs are going to kill me!” But best and worst of all… “Why is my Boob UNDER MY ARM?” That’s right – you heard me – “UNDER MY ARM!?!” – the HORROR!

It’s okay I tell myself. I research how to ‘unflab your body after 40’ and Google thankfully eases my already crumbling grip on reality by offering a myriad of solutions – quick ones and hard ones! So helpful!  Apparently my wobbly problems are exacerbated by Running! Running makes me fat and jiggly because I am no longer considered a young person who tones up from cardio exercise! I have to weight train to build muscle – otherwise I must just succumb to being a loose skinned old person who insists on running!

*Laugh Out Very Very Loud*

But at least I understand that I will have to pick up heavy things such as weights, kettlebells and sandbags in the gym. So there is a remedy. A way to tone up my junk! I am very hopeful and excited about this new challenge.

I am however still lost on the ‘everything I do is Shit’ dilemma. The psychological effects are something else entirely and it’s not so easy to shove it aside and laugh it off. It’s a daily struggle and something I have to deal with every minute of the day. When I am inconsolable, I remind myself of what my closest friend once told me: ‘You are your own worst enemy… All you need is a little kindness… Be kind to yourself!’

I guess we could all do with just a little kindness because having courage is utterly exhausting.

Advertisements

Thoughts on LSD

So last Sunday I decided that I needed to get back to running. I was really eager but slightly anxious because I had not run in a few weeks… So yes, I was aware of how hard and challenging it was going to be. In retrospect I vow to never miss another LSD for this season because ‘Shit that was ruff’!

In passing other runners I often wonder what they are thinking about, because I know that running is a mind game and all you do is think… Running for some people is very cathartic and their minds remain calm – me on the other hand – haibo! Time to face the reality that I am not a meditative runner! I am a ‘work through the shit in your head’ type runner.  I have a full on battle with my mind! Aai yah… I guess I am never going to be that runner that just peaces out…

No Ways… There is a shit storm that happens in my head… and this is how it goes..

15 minutes before my run – Yes I can do this… I need the toilet! Slather on Sunscreen. Stuff handkerchief into bra. Water and lets go!

1st km – Oh my word! Why have I not run in so long? I LOVE RUNNING! It feels amazing!

2km – Yes! I got this! Warming up is so wonderful, breathing easy! Hey I can breathe through my nose! My legs feel awesome and my mind is calm and relaxed!

3km – Wait – where’s Maruf? What’s my pace? Oooohhh under 6 mins… gotta slow down… Gosh he is so slow today… What a beautiful morning!

4km – Slow down! Turn around wait for Maruf! Are you ok? How far we gonna go? What we going to do with the kids later?

5km – Oh Hell! Why are my legs burning? Or is it my butt? Yes why is my butt burning? Breathe deeply through the nose and slowly out the mouth! Control and focus!

6km – Gosh I need to just walk a little…. My feet are on fire. My shoes are finished. I need new shoes. Water!!! I need water! Maybe I should try Nikes. My shoes have holes all over and my toes are sticking through…

7km – This is SO HARD! I know I am not dying but yoh…why? I need to turn around! Stop it already… No dont you dare stop – gotta kill those hormones!

8km – Ok I really need to STOP! I can feel that chafe… Never gonna win the chafe battle. A shower is gonna kill me… Why does Vaseline only last so long? Disappointing…

9km – Why am I STILL RUNNING? I can’t breathe… My body hurts! Everything hurts!?! Am I grunting? Whats that smell? Is it me? Hey Maruf – is that smell me?

10km – I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! The sweat is burning my eyes and face! No wonder some people say they are allergic to exercise!

1-2-3 In….1-2 out… repeat x a million

11km – My right leg is broken… Wait… could it really be BROKEN? No man – its my foot – the left one that always chooses to be an underachiever! Almost at home. My calves are rebels… they hate me!

Run-walk-run-walk-run-walk continue…

12km – I can’t feel my feet… there is searing pain in my hips… MY left HIP IS BROKEN! STOP THAT! Stop and stretch. Aaahhhh that feels soooo good. Hey why am I walking sideways? Why are you laughing at me? Run – its quicker to get home and it hurts a lot less than walking…

13km – Is that a Hill? I don’t wanna run up that hill! Nooooooooo!!! Almost there! Yessss! I don’t wanna run anymore… I am not running for the rest of the week! Ssshhhhtttttt just be quiet – I am not talking anymore…

14km – I am HUNGRY. I am STARVING! Can I have breyani when I get home? Or Pizza? No I want Cofffee!!! I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT FOOD! I WANT TO EAT EVERYTHING!

15KM – Last ppppuuussshhhhh aaannnddd DONE!!!

I feel so thin, healthy and accomplished… Yeah!!!!

Will Cancer ever be done with me?

Are you still sick?

I DON’T KNOW…

Is IT finished?

I DON’T KNOW…

Are you done with Cancer?

I DON’T KNOW…

I hope so. I pray so. I wish for health and longevity but I have no control over the inner workings of my body. The only control I have is how I live in this body with this reality…

This thought jumped at me when I heard of Olivia Newton-John’s recurrence. I was really sad to hear that her cancer had returned. This is not a new story for any of us living with cancer. The nature of this illness is such that no one knows if it will recur or why cancer recurs. The hardest part is dealing with the uncertainty of WHEN it will return…

Living under the dark cloud of cancer recurrence is horrifying. It can really paralyze you with fear. I know this all too well. I struggle with this… I cry about it… I laugh about it… I curse and swear at it…. But it is there… The difference between a healthy person and a cancer thriver is knowing with certainty that this THING can kill you… and it probably will…

Someone once asked how can I prevent Breast Cancer from happening to me? I scoffed at a reply that stated – DON’T GET BORN! Breast cancer cannot be prevented (unless you have both breasts removed before cancer occurs). You can try to reduce the risk but there is no way to prevent it. It can be detected early, treated early and may be ‘curable’ for a good number of years…

Breast cancer used to be a disease reserved for the old, declining in health and years, unfortunately this no longer holds any truth. Women and men are being diagnosed with breast cancer in the prime of their lives… and NO ONE KNOWS WHY! Science has STILL NOT FOUND A CURE because there is NO CURE to date! Doctors are still baffled with the mechanism of how cancer moves from a primary tumour to other parts of the body!

Huh?!? It’s true… And fucken Unbelievable…

And yes I believe a healthier diet and lifestyle can reduce your risk of breast cancer, but I don’t believe that it can cure you… It can make you feel better and help you cope with the stressors of daily life but not with the enormity of a cancer diagnosis. Truth is…

NO…BODY…KNOWS…

But for now… there is relief, reprieve, remission and hope.

And that’s all

I am Not your Inspiration

Someone once rudely accused me of being ‘Inspiring’. Proceeded to tell me off and said she would pray for me.  I was like…WAIT… WHAT??? I kinda got stuck on ‘Inspiring’!

*Hysterical Voice – WHAT does that even MEAN???

As far as I am concerned – “Inspiration –  is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”

When I think about inspiration, what inspires me most is ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. We appreciate when someone has the ability and willingness to be selfless, creative, innovative, or just dares to be different.

My idea of inspiring would be Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Mandela etc… All of them were ordinary people who decided that the world needed their help – they were true leaders who believed that they could change the world and who, despite nearly impossible odds and tremendous opposition, weren’t afraid to try.

Maybe my understanding is flawed. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not being rude (well maybe) but I have such issues with this concept. So I sat and thought about it. What doesn’t feel right about this word? I have breast cancer and I write about it. I have never claimed to want to change the world (even though I would love to) or save people (I so wish I could) from their illness/mental issues/debt/divorce/lives. I am not saintly and I choose to show my flaws unflinchingly. I am unapologetic and honest about who I am.

Then I realised that the problem is actually Society. You see we constantly compare our lives to ‘Others’ for validation. And this is problematic in my case because this ‘Other-ness’ of mine is called Cancer and is NOT inspiring…

Let’s be blunt – for example, “Oh my, she has breast cancer and can smile and be happy, I should never, EVER feel bad about my life”… you know what… STOP THAT! This thinking perpetuates the idea that people with cancer are special for living with it or through it and it is preposterous because ultimately those decisions are not made by any of us mere mortals.

In all honesty I don’t think I was made to ‘Inspire You’ by my writing/blogging. I write because it is a huge part of my job and that my dear, doesn’t make me ‘Special’… I will NOT apologise to Anyone about my Rude Behaviour (what she actually means is my inappropriate Language use… oooh shem) and I do not need to explain Anything to Anyone! I am only answerable on the Day of Judgement to my Maker – and in the end your opinion means Nothing!

If I have inspired you, kindly ask yourself what have you done with this inspiration? What have you done to change the world we live in? Dig deep… And once you have answered that question hold onto it tightly because inspiration comes from the Almighty alone!

Do you GET IT? Probably not… Why do I even bother?

***DROPS MIC

Tamoxifen Drama

So…

WHAT IS Tamoxifen?

I have been taking this drug for almost 5 years… Side note: I had to retrieve my hospital folder to look for the date I started taking Tamoxifen on my medical schedule lol because I don’t remember the finer details bwahahahahaha! I’ll put this here in case I forget – I officially started this medication on 6 November 2012.

I was told that Tamoxifen is a “Hormone Therapy”… that will prevent my cancer cells from spreading and hopefully keep me in remission for a few years. Tamoxifen is NOT preventative for any new Cancer that may occur but is given to treat my CURRENT Cancer. I have written about the side effects many times and it is exhausting to keep repeating myself – so in short IT IS ATROCIOUS! And my doctors have sentenced me to TamoxiHell forever…

So I stumbled across a support group for Tamoxifen patients on Facebook and I was overjoyed that so many women were taking this medication and that I was not alone. Many of them find that the side effects are life changing and the impact has negatively impacted their quality of life. Fewer women tolerate the drug and adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

Every now and then a debate arises: So what EXACTLY is Tamoxifen? Is it toxic? What does it do? Is Tamoxifen Chemotherapy???

Many Doctors will argue that it is NOT chemotherapy… Many patients will argue that it IS! In essence chemotherapy is a highly toxic substance used to stop or interfere with the rapidly dividing cells in the body (both healthy and malignant).

Tamoxifen is called a ‘Cytostatic Agent’ which ‘inhibits cell growth’… HeLLLLllooooo? WHaaaaAAT???

Don’t believe me? Ask Dr Google… or better yet have a good long look at the attached pic…

“Cytostatic (chemotherapeutic) refers to a cellular component or medicine that inhibits cell growth…

*Hysterical Voice* Also Tamoxifen can cause Secondary Cancers – cervical, uterine, endometrial and liver… never mind the fact that it Sometimes DOESN’T WORK!

Okay…enough of that…

Here’s how I deal with the AfterParty:

  1. Severe stomach ache – you are probably constipated, try a fruit smoothie. And if you aren’t sorted then try a mild laxative. I avoid laxatives because diarrhoea is scary (green juice works best for me). Do NOT eat cake or samosas as this will lead to more constipation and leave you full of sh*t literally!
  2. Bleeding mouth and gums – use a soft toothbrush or better yet use your sanitised fingers to clean your teeth and gums. Also add some Betadine mouthwash to your oral routine to keep the nasties at bay.
  3. Nose bleeds – stop drop and roll into your bed. These are evil and need your urgent attention. Relax and don’t blow try to go with the flow? If you bleed a whole towel full GO TO HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOMS IMMEDIATELY!
  4. Bleeding Bum – Gross – I know… Piles… eeeeuuuuwwwww! I just can’t even deal… Cry!
  5. Pain in your Liver/Back/Neck/Shoulder/Head – No it is Not Cancer – STOP THAT!

Hows that for Toxic? I am done with being in denial of the fact that I am still being treated for Breast Cancer. And it SUCKS that Tamoxifen is Chemo… and it makes me feel kuk!

Finish en Klaar!

 

This is Tired

I am tired. It’s been so long that I don’t remember being not tired. My brain is tired and forgets everything from which day of the week it is, to birthdays, to playdates and party times… I rely on Facebook to tell me whose birthdays I have forgotten and on Whatsapp to keep track of everything else… Thank goodness for technology!

I am endlessly exhausted… This is not something I am used to because I WAS NOT ALWAYS TIRED!

And no amount of sleeping has made me feel better. I wake up like this every day. Nothing and I mean NOTHING has improved my condition. I tried changing my diet – Low Carb High Fat just made me constipated and Paleo made me feel feral. I obviously crave sugar and because I try real hard to restrict my intake I satisfy my cravings with copious amounts of dates which gets me to midday without shovelling satisfyingly good chocolate down my throat. I tried coffee to kickstart my morning and make me generally sociable – but Haibo! heart palpitations are scary and freak me the hell out.  I also tried supplements… but I am not allowed to mess around with extra supplementation due to current medication interaction – in other words – it could possibly interfere with my Tamoxifen and THAT may just be catastrophic!

How does Chronic Fatigue feel you ask? My throat is always sore. My head hurts. My muscles ache. My bones are icky. My hips are officially retired and my feet feel like bags of concrete. My back and shoulders are trying to assassinate me.

This is Chronic Fatigue… apparently caused by CHEMO (insert swearing screaming emoji)!!!

I unfortunately do not have any special strategies or tips of how to get over this and apparently   there is no quick fix. The last time I spoke to my Oncologist she said it is a lingering effect of chemo and something I have to learn to live with….

I am not complaining because even though I feel shitty now I will still go for a run later today! To show this fatigue that I will not let it rule my life and turn me savage instead I will eat whatever comes my way because how else am I supposed to fuel my running???

I know I am just making excuses to eat whatever I want and yet I haven’t been more aware of the lifestyle army screaming – watch your weight, eat healthily, increase fruit and vegetables, decrease fat and sugar, drink tons of water and get plenty of sleep and always remember to smile and be friendly and polite! Insert Middle finger emoji! Hahahahahahaha… Right!

I refuse to endanger my volatile mental state by denying myself a samoosa when I feel like it! That is NEVER going to happen, okay? I don’t see how this could possibly affect my Fatigue which is THE issue!

And on a lighter note… A friend sent me this:
(PS: She is a Doctor and is living with Stage 4 Breast Cancer)

THIS is how to Cure Your Cancer:

Take a handful of Kale and add Turmeric to it and put it in Carrot juice and use as an Enema for 15 days then stand in a Yoga pose for another five days then massage Cannabis oil all over and slip an slide for two days followed by organic ground coffee enemas until you successfully shit out all the cancer! There! Just stay in Downward Dog all your life with your head in Coconut and Avocado oil and have someone sprinkle a light dusting of Matcha and Green Tea all over you! Voila!

Bwaahahahahahahaha!!! LAUGHING FOR DAYS!

And Yes, people actually say the DUMBEST CRAZIEST RUBBISH when they hear you have Cancer! I understand that maybe they know EVERYTHING and really want to help us ignorant cancer patients but hey…. if it were SO SIMPLE why are people still dying from Cancer??? nmy opinion I think Maybe they haven’t tried the Cannabis Enemas!

 

Fat Shamed

Last week I was fat shamed by another mom fetching her kid at School.  We had not seen each other in a couple of months and yet she could not wait to tell me how much weight I had gained. I must admit that we are not friends, but we greet each other amicably at all school functions and no we don’t socialise or have any kind of friendship.

At first I laughed it off and responded with “No man, I have not put on weight since you last saw me…” to which she then retorted “I assure you, you have put on a lot of weight since I last saw you…”  I grabbed at my oversized jersey and wrapped it against my body tightly and retorted that she is mistaken… and hurried away from her as quickly as I could despite her argueing vehemently how fat I had become…

I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE NERVE OF THIS WOMAN! I stomped off thinking what a fucking piece of shit! Does she even know how much I struggle with keeping my weight ‘normal’? Did she even consider the fact that she hurt my feelings? Does she even know how much effort it takes to look like this? The hours of training, the blood, sweat and tears??? The courage and heartbreak I carry with me everyday as I try to live in a body that betrays me over and over again????

Noooooo!!!

So before you judge my fat round body… please consider this:

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS WE ARE ALL FIGHTING WARS

And in case your small mind cannot comprehend this certainty let me make it simple…

That just because it may not seem that somebody is battling with something on the outside, it does not mean that they are free from any battles. There is no such thing as perfection and every single one of us are fighting personal challenges… mine just happens to be my body!

PS: Before you even puke out the words ‘You are Fat’ to ANYBODY…
consider that you are an A**HOLE that needs to STFU…