"You have garden variety breast cancer," my breast surgeon said.
And I know that’s a good thing. The very last thing you want to be to your cancer team is "interesting".
Turns out I was quite a bit more garden variety than I thought.
Just as vulnerable and just as human as everyone else.
My ‘meltdown’ in the months after hospital-based cancer treatment ended revealed this in startling clarity.
For me, a clinical psychologist specialising in cancer-related distress, I really should have known better. I give advice every day about how to navigate post treatment adjustment.
"Cancer doesn’t discriminate," I say.
"Respect the disease, respect the treatment," I say.
My story is an excellent example of what not to do.
Or 'do as I say, not as I do'.
Watch check your breasts, a quick how to. Post continues after video.
I struggled with accepting the requirement for ‘a new normal’. The reality that post cancer, we can only move forward. To the next version of life. Not back, to that pre-diagnosis version.
That little voice in my head said, ‘I’ll be different’.
What a load of crap.
I counsel the benefits of vulnerability, but I was lousy at living it.
Guilty of going back to work too soon, doing too much, ignoring the wise advice of my medical team and important others. After about eight months post hospital-based treatment, I hit a wall (metaphorically). More like I face-slammed the dirt.
It was the result of not acknowledging the impact of cancer on me, on my life. Chronic insomnia (2-3 hours of sleep a night) and the creeping side effects of my ongoing cancer treatment wrought a devastating effect on my wellbeing. The hormone-blocking medication caused awful joint pain, hot flushes, high levels of intolerance. My coping mask was still on, but it was getting heavier and starting to droop.