My acronym for FEAR: Forgetting Every Awesome Reality
I have to admit it, for me fear is a four-letter word. I try to run from it, hide from it, but sometimes it comes and bites me in the ass. I pride myself for the coping mechanisms I’ve found and used to deal with living with metastatic cancer. Most of the time, it works. I’m able to live my life with joy and gratitude, counting my blessings along the way. But I’ve come up against a new obstacle that made me feel like the proverbial rug had been pulled out from under me.
It’s happened only a few times, but has caught be totally by surprise: sudden excruciating pain. One time it was in my lower back; the other two times in my pelvic region. It was enough to make me wince, cry out, and call the doctor to get pain medication. The pills worked each time, and I was back to normal, but the experiences left a lasting impression. My mind went to very dark places … “My cancer is growing.” I’m going to die.” It’s like everything I learned went out the window. I’d try affirmations, praying, focusing on gratitude, but it was like the pain was telling me all that stuff is bunch of hooey.
I’ve heard lots of cute acronyms for FEAR – one of which I can’t print with a clear conscious – but my sudden onslaught evoked “Forgetting Every Awesome Reality.” I forgot to remind myself that these painful moments were rare and short-lived, that I’ve been told I have many options available to me, that I have an awesome God that has my back. I was giving all my power to the pain.
My husband was freaking out, too, which didn’t help. But he did suggest I call my doctor about it. Dr. Drosick’s (my local oncologist) nurse offered something I never thought of: perhaps the pain means the drug is working.
It also helped to talk with my cancer/life coach, Flo Singer, today on Skype. She’s working with me to raise my conscious thoughts to a higher plane basically reprogramming my mental “computer” that seems to be on the default setting of fear and stress. She suggested every day I write in my journal affirmative statements, such as “I am well,” “I am cancer-free,” “This pain means my chemo is working.” I can read them when I’m feeling pain and remind myself of these things even if they haven’t come to fruition yet. The repetition is important because it helps eliminate a bad pattern, basically replacing negative with positive thoughts.
After our Skype call, I met with Dr. Drosick before my chemo, and he provided me with more detail about how the drug I’m on, Halaven, stops cells from dividing and causes cell death. The pain could be the pain of the cell contracting and dying. Hmm … now that’s a different way to look at it! Although we won’t know for sure until my scan next month, I can visualize that and almost feel grateful when I’m feeling pain. He also told me I had the blood counts of a 20-year-old, which is saying something since this drug often lowers white blood counts! So I must be doing something right!
I was then able to go to the chemo suite and share all the good in my life: all the fun I’ve been having celebrating my birthday (which was Saturday) all week long, and some exciting news we just received. The Karen Wellington Foundation , a local organization that provides vacations to breast cancer survivors and their families, is flying us to Long Boat Key, Florida and providing for a beautiful place to stay. This will be a great way to celebrate Mike and my 15th wedding anniversary with our beautiful daughter. And we’ll get to stop by and visit my friend Darlene, who lives nearby. I would highly recommend you support this wonderful organization!
Fear happens. As Flo says, it’s normal for someone in my situation. But I don’t have to stay there and focus on it all the time. I’d love to hear strategies from those of you in a similar situation.
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