Today I'm introducing one of the new features for "Women With Cancer" -- Quick Takes -- a question and answer column that I'll run twice a month. I learn so much and am constantly inspired by hearing other women's stories and know you will be, too. Let me know what you think!
When friends ask me where or how I met Debbie Thomas, 44, of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, I have to stop and think. It seems like she’s been a part of my life for a long time -- that's the kind of bond we share -- but the truth is I met her last summer. My introduction came through the thoughts expressed from her blog, simply titled “Debbie’s Cancer Blog” (http://debbiescancerblog.blogspot.com/) and her incredible story. From there, our correspondence continued on Twitter, to email and talking on the phone as we can. She was diagnosed in 2006, and I’ll ask her to tell you the rest.
Another striking statement to me was your observation that “there is a fine line between kicking cancer’s butt and allowing yourself to recover.” I’d love to hear more about that. When I wrote this I was considering the line between getting back to life after treatment while allowing for the time and space needed to recover from the ordeal you’ve just experienced. I was mostly talking about the physical aspects but I think it applies to mental and psychological or emotional aspects as well. I wanted to return to my 'normal' routine or working, raising my daughter, taking care of the house, the dog, volunteering …friend ...I wanted to do it all again just like I had before cancer but found that I couldn't. I would often get frustrated about that. But you also don't want to close yourself off and baby yourself too much. This leads to isolation, deeper depression and physical atrophy.
So how do you walk the line between taking your life back and perhaps even pushing yourself to new lengths (like running a half-marathon) versus those times when you really need to go to bed early and take the every elusive "time-for-yourself"? It is a challenge every day to find the balance.
What books and magazines are on your reading table? I just finished "Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude" by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons. Everyone should run out immediately and buy this book. It changed my life. I am now reading "My Life in France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. I also have "Become a Better You" by Joel Osteen. His writing has helped to renew my faith and to remind me to act in faith, love and hope. I also read "Runner's World" and "Budget Travel".
That’s understandable. Three years isn’t that long over the course of a life. You’ve written about therapy. From my vantage point it has helped you pass through some enormous hurdles fairly quickly. And the clue is: pass through, not over. Is that a fair statement? I don’t at all want to diminish your courage, which I find inspiring. I highly recommend therapy to anyone going through a traumatic experience. I wish I had started sooner. I waited until I was pretty deep in depression after my first round of treatment before I finally went. I was lucky to find a great therapist and she has really helped me to go through the tough times. She gives me "homework' which often involves journaling, meditating, saying mantras or affirmations, and exercising. She is a runner too so it is cool to share that interest with her. It has been so helpful to have that objective person who is trained to help, but she is not so objective that she can't shed a little tear when I told her the cancer was back and then again when I told her I ran 6 miles for the first time and was training to run a half-marathon. The plain truth is I would not be where I am emotionally right now if I wasn't going to therapy with this woman.