Breast Cancer, Life & Parenting

“Smile, breathe and go slowly”

In this return to “normal” life, I’ve not been the most patient person. All I want is to feel like I use to or maybe better than that. But my body and mind just aren’t quite there yet.

I really thought that once treatment was over, I would be ready to party like a rock star. Ready to have a big bash and celebrate not having cancer anymore. Instead, it has all felt really weird. I am happy and grateful to be done. But there is this complex web of emotions that come along with going through cancer treatment. Some of those emotions you don’t experience until after treatment.

Enter the “processing phase.” We are all in it. And it is a lot to process. Right now, each of us are processing what in the holy hell we just went through. The heaviness of it hits me at the strangest times. Like the other day, I’m standing at the kitchen sink and out of nowhere it hits me – “holy shit, I have no boobs.” Even though I am acutely aware that they were removed. Or just sitting in my chair reading and suddenly the thought hits out of nowhere, “oh my god, I REALLY had cancer.” At certain moments the reality of it slams into you like the anvil that keeps falling on the coyote. And that’s part of my brain processing. It hits, you think on it, you talk about it, you breathe and accept and move on and the moment passes.

I’ve found myself saying “I want” a lot. I want to feel better. I want to have more energy. I want to be flexible enough again to lift my arms over my head. I want my chest not to be sore. I want to have all the wheels turning in my head like they use to. I want to be done with this process, not still in it. I want to be the fun mom again. Granted, those aren’t bad “wants” and some of my wants help drive me forward.

But I need to slow down. I need to smile, breathe and go slowly. With everything. With all of it. With my body, my heart and my mind. It all needs to heal. If I sit there and focus on all I can’t do, I’m missing out on what I have accomplished and what is happening in the present.

What is happening is that I have more energy, flexibility and less soreness each day.
I smile.
My mental clarity is coming back and those wheels in my brain are indeed turning.
I breathe.
Our family is growing closer with a deeper appreciation for each other.
Go slowly. I need to take this slow and enjoy these moments. Because these moments hold our love and our healing.

As I’m practicing patience and continuing to heal, I’m starting to find the beauty in these moments. I think we can all take the advice of the very wise Thich Nhat Hanh to “Smile, breathe and go slowly” – giving us all the ability to enjoy the present more. To be where we are in our busy lives and begin to find peace with it.

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