Cycle 9 Day Whatever: Verbal Vomitting

I’m in a rut.

I feel like I’m losing my willpower.

I don’t sleep, I sweat. My reliance on pain relief through out the day and night has grown exponentially. I need Alex’s help to get undressed. I am irritable and lethargic.  

I am self-sabotaging. I can barely meditate for more than ten minutes at a time. I stopped drinking my alkaline water. I started to eat meat. I drown bread in olive and salt. I skip lunch. I have even started to eat chocolate. I have stopped taking my supplements. Drinking my juices. Walking the block or the beach. I’ve become lazy, looking for escapes.

This morning I don’t care if I live or die. I don’t feel the need to be here for others anymore. That gives me a sense of peace. I have to search to find reasons for me alone to be here. I can’t find any. 

Today I am having a bad day. I am entitled. This week I am scheduled for a scan. And not the normal CT. I am getting another PET scan to see which parts of the tumour are active and if it has spread. It is ruining my plans for the week. I am annoyed. 

I think I am scared, in fact I know I am. But I am also angry. I cant articulate what it is I am angry or frustrated about… Part of me wants to know, the other doesn’t care (or is pretending not to care).

Wow. Yuck. Got it out… Not sure I’ll post this. Maybe I’ll keep it in draft. It’s not very positive. Think it will upset a few ppl. Namely my Mum. I’ll warn her. 

Should I care? It’s a snapshot in time, that is my reality for the moment. And a moment is all it is. That moment will pass. It almost has, having written this down. Like I needed to have a verbal vomit. I made space. I got rid of those thoughts and can replace them with brighter, lighter, more positive ones. Ones that normally fill my headspace. 

It’s time to move my body. Eat. Re-hydrate. Relax. 

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Cycle 9 Day 5: Scientists v Healers

We often think of healers as differing from scientists such as yourself, do you have any thoughts on how to reconcile these things?

This was one of the questions I was ask ‘on set’ last week during the filming. I thought it was a beautiful question, one that I had never contemplated previously, but one that is so relevant to me now in so many ways.

I had wanted to provide an eloquent and articulate response, that would be inspired, captive the audience and hopefully open up new speaking opportunities….. Instead I gave staccato sentences, that didn’t flow and made me look a little stupid. I was sent the questions beforehand but I had only glanced over them, not wanting to come across like my responses had been scripted…. Lesson learned for next time!

I’ve had a bit more time to think about it.

I would never had even considered these two professions in the same sentence before cancer, but I now believe they share many similarities and I think the notion of ‘belief’ is the common thread between both.

In my scientific mind, a healer believes in the impossible. It’s a belief without restrictions, requirements or caveats. It is often an experience that is individual and unquie. One that can not be replicated. It involves intuition, emotion and a spiritual connection. In a scientist’s world there are rules and methods. Evidence is key, so is reproducibility. It can sometimes be narrow and black and white, but deep down a scientist must also believe in the impossible. If they did not believe in the first instance then why persist with experiments, trials and theories. Why dedicate their life works to it? They work methodically and logically to try and prove what was previously thought of as impossible. They are intellectual dreamers who think outside of the box. Sometimes risking their careers and reputations for their beliefs. Sometimes shunned by their own community for being too out-there, too forward thinking, too radical. But isn’t it this radical thinking that enables us to take those leaps and bounds to advance our knowledge…..

So are they one and the same? Where does that leave me? How do I now fit in? How do I reconcile it all? And does it really matter?

I do my best to balance both sides without living in internal turmoil. Cause in some ways this is what cancer has given me. I can’t disregard all that I know as a scientist. I travelled this path and gathered this information for a reason. So maybe it is my calling to be a better scientist, to be a braver scientist, to push the boundaries, be radical in my thinking. I am reminded everyday that the human body is a miraculous organism. It’s designed to heal or we would not make it out of bed in the morning. So I already believe in the possibility. I just need to hold it. I need to forget the doubt, that creeps in and deviates me from my path, that accepts laziness as the norm and that gets in the way of my dreams.

So can this scientist believe in miracles? In my heart, I now would say yes. And my head is slowly coming on board. After all, one generations miracles are another’s scientific fact. I’m going to get in ahead of my generation and just believe.

  

Cycle 9 Day 3: Pain, Pain Go Away

Day 3 is always the hardest. I struggle to get out of bed. 

From the beginning Alex would ask me how I feel out of ten. Most of the time it’s 7 or an 8. Day 3 is the exception. I remember saying once 2/10 to him and that upset him. I’d never been that low or in that much pain. I think it was just before my blood transfusion…

The pain in my chest rises and becomes constant. It feels like someone is pushing against my chest wall, with a sharp knife. It runs along my collar bone. My cough crackles and my ribs ache. Breathing is a battle as I challenge myself to take a deep breathe. Gently, gently. 

After a while it becomes a mind game. The chemicals start to leave my body and I start to wonder if I am feeling sorry for myself. I have a quick pep talk to the voices in my head. Part of me knows I am having a pity party. Part of me is scared of the pain and what it might mean. Part of me is ready to come out of the fog and get on with life. This is where the real mental mind fuck begins. I start to wonder why my cells trying to kill me? Or are they? I investigate the pain. Really look at it. Imagine what it looks like. I ask it what it wants to show me. This generally brings me out of my head, out of the ‘battleground’ of my brain. And allows me to be somewhat normal again. Calm. Ok with where I am at. 

If that doesn’t work then a healthy cry, a walk around the block, or even punching the mattress at 2 o’clock in the morning can do the trick.

Day 4 is almost here. Hurry up already! 

  

Cycle 8 Day 18: Reality Bites

Our apartment turned into a film set today. 

  

I was being interviewed for a short video that will be shown at a conference I’ll hopefully attend in the US in a month or so. 

It took me most of the interview to feel comfortable enough to talk freely, normally, and not like I was the poster girl for clinical trials or cancer. I even wore my uggs to try and boost the comfort factor. I am not used to people fussing about the shine of my skin or the location of a strand of my hair but I sure could get used to it! I think there is a little diva within me desparate to get out….

 

So it was a struggle at first. I could not get the words out. My responses to their questions were rubbish. I think chemo has rotted my brain! But I am sure they will be able to be find some one-liners in amongst my umm’s and arhh’s. For once, I am glad ‘reality’ is being manipulated! 

  
In fact I would love someone to follow me around all day, every day and edit my life (again, the Diva talking). Touch up my make up, choose the perfect outfit, and frame beautiful shots that make my life look truely idyllic. Actually, it might sound corny and I haven’t seen the end result yet, but my life is pretty idyllic. After all I have been through I still think I am pretty lucky. I am more fortunate than most. 

Today although it was an acted out reality, that was repeated over and over in close up and wide shots, I realised how content I am in my home and my lifestyle. My life has changed for the better. My disease is still here (and that needs to go) but I’d forgotten that I live in a magical part of the world. I was reminded of that during the last shot of the day. We had just finished shooting shots of Alex and I walking along the beach, and me meditating on the headland when a pod of dolphins started jumping and playing before us. It was a beautiful end to a surreal day. 

 

Cycle 8 Day 13: Having a Whale of a Time

I have been writing an article for a magazine and the theme is ‘health’. I had been describing how my world stopped being two dimensional when I was diagnosed. I lived on the surface, on the x and y axis and disease had created a 3rd dimension for me, the z axis or as Siggi would called it ‘the vertical’. It’s not something I experience as a permanent state of being but it is a place I can now access when I feel the need. 

I had been struggling to finish the piece not sure if it would be understood. I couldn’t get my point across. I didn’t quite have the words. But yesterday I experienced my third dimension on a whole new level. Yesterday I went swimming with whale sharks. Yes, whale sharks! And the actual experience was just what I had been trying to explain in my article. 

After two long flights on progressively smaller planes, a bus trip and a short ride on a tender, we took a boat out pass the protected reef into the vast blue ocean. On the surface, it was a frenetic ball of energy. Once a shark was spotted, the boat would get into position, 2 groups of ten snokerllers hustled to the back of the boat, wetsuits on, flippers on, mask and snorkel on. Wait for the signal…..then go, go, go.  

In the deep water we formed a line. It seemed chaotic, mindless, madness. My heart raced, my breathe quickened and my sense of presence seemed to disappear. I was obviously running on adrenaline. And what surprised me was how I was not really aware of my surroundings or my body. I was on automatic, not wanting to be aware of surroundings after all I was floating in the middle of the ocean, trying not to swallow water, trying not to think about what else was swimming about underneath my feet. Just treading water. Just to keep afloat. Just how I act sometimes in real life. 

  

Then the next signal is given. She is heading our way! Just look down. And swim with her. On the surface it was rough, noisy and full of people. Below it was beautiful. Clear blue. Graceful. Peaceful. Silent. Amazing. Still.

I was able to stop, take it all in, breathe. Appreciate all that is. Feel my body and really experience it. Not in my mind but in my being. Just like I do when I meditate or even wash the dishes.  

I realised that I was scared at first, slightly paralysed by fear, apprenhesive of the unknown. But once I looked down and saw how beautiful and calm the unknown can be I know that when I need to dive under and see life from a whole new perspective I can. It’s not that I want to escape the surface world I live in, but incorporate some of what I have seen below the surface above. 

The whole trip wasn’t a deep philosophical journey though….