It's been 314 days since my diagnosis, 174 days since I completed chemotherapy, and 161 days since the doctor told me I was in remission. There are 11 days until my next checkup. Physically I am feeling better than I have since I completed chemo. I am back to running on a regular basis, using a heart rate training plan from Train Like a Mother Club. I ran the Hot Chocolate 5K race this past Sunday with the wonderful support of the Cancer to 5 K running group. I have been attending my weekly Weight Watchers meeting, am down about 7 pounds, and a full pant size! Aside from the surgical scars and some residual neuropathy in my feet and hands, the physical symptoms have been less of a concern.
Now it's time for me to deal with the emotional scars. I have been doing a pretty good job of holding things together by keeping busy. As long as I am busy I don't have time to think about what I thought was my biggest issue: the fear of recurrence. It raises its ugly head most often at night, usually in the form of a nightmare. I am sitting in my oncologist's office and he is telling me that the cancer has returned. I have also had issues with various triggers: a commercial that was on heavy rotation, the theme songs from television shows that I binge watched, commercials for cancer treatment, sometimes even laying in bed have all brought me to tears at times since I completed treatment.
I have taken several steps in an effort to heal the emotional scars. I registered for and was accepted into an 8 week Stress Management Through Mindfulness course being given at the Wellness House. The course combines various types of meditation and yoga and lots of sharing. It's been a great support for me and I am looking forward to the remainder of the class, as well as the full day retreat that is scheduled right before my next check up.
At the suggestion of my oncology social worker (who by the way has been a wonderful source of information, by suggesting Imerman Angels, cancer rehabilitation, and Cancer to 5K) I contacted a counselor who is experienced in using EMDR to treat PTSD in cancer patients. I met with her twice before beginning my treatment this afternoon. EMDR uses rapid eye movement and visualization to help desensitize triggers. I can't do a great job of explaining it. If you are interested in finding out more about it, click on the link. I will say that during the first session today I found that my real fears are related to not being around for my kids and not knowing what being dead will feel like. I have a weekly journal I need to keep to share with my therapist next week.