Image: Julia trekking in Bhutan earlier this year.
2015 has been a great year in many ways. I led my first tour to Bhutan with awesome people. I had ‘proud mumma’ moments. I had special visits from special friends.
That said, it was not a year I’d care to repeat. I found myself in new territory with a large, rare, malignant pancreatic tumour not seen in Australia before. Until that point I was barely conscious what a pancreas actually did.
Three hospital visits later, I found myself with: fifty per cent less pancreas. No spleen. A greater appreciation for ambulance drivers, who are simply amazing. Spending 45 per cent of my treatment with my partner away and with no kids at home. Then there was the strong sense of betrayal; my body had never let me down before, and now was having this epic fail. I was pretty pissed off.
The good news, as I found out yesterday, is that my chemo finishes on the 15th of December. With a brand new year around the corner, I wanted to share some stuff I have learned that might help others get through it and stay positive.
1. Support doesn’t always come from expected sources
This was one of the hardest and most hurtful lessons for me, but I figured out how to lower my expectations. Not everyone learned how to be empathetic growing up or has strong EQ. Let it go – they won’t learn it on the run during this crisis.
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2. Fatigue and control
The second biggest challenge for me was not having my usual high energy. I was used to getting a lot done every day and I had to scale things back. It led to huge frustration until I learned I had to work with my energy flows and to try to do things that brought me joy and not bring me down.
I tried to ‘normalise’ life where I could; I still did grocery shopping, washing, cooking and social stuff. Staying normal also helps conquer fear and puts you out in the real world not the parallel universe threatening to drag you under and make you a victim.