Transitional Thinking

18 Jan

I find myself in a state of transitional thinking.  For more than six months, I focused solely on getting through that sixth chemo treatment.  It was my goal, my destination, and I thought once I reached it I would feel tons different.  Interestingly enough, I don’t feel different at all.  Except a teeny, tiny bit melancholy knowing that it’s not over and there’s more to come.

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

I wasn’t necessarily focused on getting rid of the cancer, but on getting rid of as much of it as we could because I knew up front that remission is my goal, not a cure.  So my expectations were realistic, but upon arriving at the end of this major phase of treatment, I feel a little lost mentally.  It’s kind of like my birthday came and went with all its excitement, but I didn’t get all my gifts – just one big one.  There are still more gifts to come, but I have to work for them instead of just having them given to me.

I’m still a cancer patient, and will be for a long time to come.  But how do I wrap my mind around this disease now?  How do I psychologically prepare myself for being a cancer patient indefinitely?  I dream of the day when the word cancer is not a part of my daily life.  But in that dream, I cannot envision when that day will come.  In two years?  In five?  Maybe ten?  Only God knows.

I think the key for me is to transition my thinking from lymphoma is a disease I have to tackle to lymphoma is a chronic illness that will be with me for a while.  Something not curable (yet) and that will remain with me for years to come until a new treatment is developed to remove the cancer completely from my body.  And I believe that day will come.  :)

If I were to think of this in terms of a race, the first part that I just completed would be a sprint – a hard core pounding of the pavement to get to the finish line.  Now, that I’ve completed the sprint successfully, I am transitioning mentally and physically to a cross-country run because this is going to go on for a while.

That’s the tough part.  I would really like for this to be a disease that I could get rid of and not have to think about anymore.  But that’s not what I have and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I have to accept what this is and live my life as normally (or better than normally) as possible, all the while the cloud of cancer hovers over my head just slightly out of sight.  I can do this.  I will endure and run this race with my head held high, without allowing discouragement to weigh me down, and with confidence that each day, each treatment, each test gets me one day closer to total remission or, Lord willing, a cure.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It’s going to be a wonderful Wednesday!  Enjoy every minute of it!!
♥ Rachel

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6 Responses to “Transitional Thinking”

  1. The Savvy Sister January 18, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Everyone is susceptible to disease. You and I just think about it more because we’ve been there. Not a day (in the past 6 years) goes by that I don’t think about my cancer, (especially when a check up is approaching) but you will find, I think, that there are days when you WANT to think about it and when you will use it as an excuse for doing things that you wouldn’t have done before. (I am terrified of flying, but flew 3000 miles to visit my sister because I thought if I relapse, I won’t get a chance to)

    I have learned to use it to give me courage and use it to put things into perspective.
    Example—Bad thing: I got a speeding ticket last week Good thing: It isn’t chemo.

    You’ll figure it out :) Sounds like you’re on your way

    • rachturner January 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      Superb insight! And congrats on overcoming a fear and going to visit your sister! That’s fantastic!!

  2. mainelyhopeful January 18, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    I’m just at the beginning of my treatments, but I’ve thought about what it will be like at the end. What the new normal will be. If there is such a thing. I hope you feel more settled in yourself as time goes on.

    • rachturner January 19, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Susan – You can’t help but think about the end. One of my friends who had been through this before, so to try not to focus on the end, but just on each treatment. Don’t look too much at the big picture because it can be overwhelming, especially on the days when you feel horrible. Just focus on getting through each day and start over again tomorrow. I hope that you tolerate this current treatment very well – that is my prayer for you today.

  3. Kathy January 18, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Transition, that’s my word for the DAY or possibly the month, too. However, I can’t commit to a whole year with the same word like you can with the word “grow”, haha!

    You having this cancer scares me beyond measure because I love you and feel real pain for your suffering. As for the way I’m dealing with it (as your sister who prays every single day that she is the “perfect match” for you if you ever need bone marrow or a kidney!)
    With everything we now know about your particular cancer, I’m trying my best to make myself think of your situation as a chronic disease. When I think of it that way I am able to say to myself that diabetes is a chronic disease, MS is a chronic disease, heart failure is a chronic disease, an aneurism in an inoperable location is a chronic disease, the “blood cell thingy” that someone near and dear to us has is a chronic disease (I can’t remember the exact technical wording for “what to call it” but we all know it’s serious) and that list could go on and on. We know people in those situations who are living great lives. I think you can see what I’m getting at.

    I’m not trying to lessen what you have at all (it’s very, very serious), what I am trying to do is not give the word “cancer” so much clout in my brain and put it somewhere in my brain that gives it the “respect” (I’m using that word with tongue in cheek) it’s due as a life changing disease. Cancer is also a much scarier thing to us because we, as a family are all so new to it but I remind myself of people like Ed Logel who lived many, many decades with his chronic cancer.

    Just like there were things Phil took total charge of and got in the best shape possible when he was first diagnosed with “severe diabetes”, you are taking all the right steps to safeguard your future and I couldn’t be more proud of you for that!!

    Shifting gears, that’s what we’re doing these days. Whatever you do, never forget the significance of being a Smith Girl! I love you dearly, Kathy

    • rachturner January 19, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      K – You put the biggest smile on my face when you said “as your sister who prays every single day that she is the perfect match for you if you ever need bone marrow or a kidney.” I think you hit the nail on the head – it’s a chronic condition much like MS, heart disease, aneurysm, or (that other thingy is called) myelodysplasia. All serious, but all things that have to be LIVED with. I think this cancer has to be diminished in our minds otherwise it takes up too big of a space in our hearts. So for now, it’s a chronic illness, much like the migraines I used to have that were annoying but something you just learned to live with. Love you, love you, love you!

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