A year ago, just before I got my diagnosis, I was in extreme pain. I was taking so many pain medications that had little to no effect that I needed to track when I took them to avoid overdosing. I remember thinking it would have been easy to overdose because the meds did not make a difference in managing the pain. On one visit to the emergency room I got two shots of dilotid plus an additional oral pain medication before it took the edge off the pain. I’ve had a high threshold for pain all my life, but this experience was beyond anything I’d ever had.
When I got the diagnosis on 1/28/09–one of those dates in one’s life that becomes indelibly marked in the brain, even one with chemo brain–my reaction brought a mix of relief and horror. While it was certainly not the kind of answer I’d wanted, it was a relief that we had an answer. It just goes to show that no matter what kind of information we receive sometimes, we are glad to know the answer to a long-lasting question. Anyway, I remember that the first thing I turned to then to cope was my own tools of creativity: primarily then, dance and writing. Let me clarify: I could not dance physically, but I could choreograph in my mind and that’s what I did. Of course, even in the hospital and rehab, I was able to write. Without my dancing and writing, I do not think I could have retained any sense of sanity.
Now that I’m a year away from that traumatic time, I am redefining many parts of my life. One of the most important parts of doing this, which I reflect upon since it’s a new year, is exploring new ways to express myself throughout the process of coping with metastatic breast cancer. In fact, I have some new ideas that I will be sharing when ready on a project that I hope will help others benefit as well. After speaking with a special new friend tonight, I’m even more jazzed about taking these ideas from the studio to the stage.
In the meantime, I offer you a challenge: no matter what you’re going through in life at the moment, find a new way to express yourself positively. Choose something you already like or something new. Something creative. Something that makes you feel good when you do or, even, just think about it. Choose something you’d like to learn to do–you may not know what satisfies you yet because you don’t have the physical skill to practice it yet, so don’t leave out things you might like to learn about. Anyway, you get the idea. And, watch for more from me about this. Or write to me if you have questions.
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