For me, it’s counting down chemo treatments: 3 more to come. So I am in the final rounds, the horizon is coming closer, but at the same time, I am tired of it.
The current chemo is easier to take, but it takes its toll, too – with every week, I feel that a bit more of the taste of food is fading again. And the numb/tingling feeling in my toes and fingers is coming up more often. Each time I hope that it will fade again, and hasn’t come to stay.
3 more weeks. Then I can start to make the first steps towards bodily recovery. There still is radiation waiting, but it doesn’t have such an overall impact on the whole body.
What I really miss is jogging. “I think of trying to go jogging this week,” I said when the weather turned warmer. To which my partner replied: “Are you sure? I don’t think it would be a good idea if you went alone”. And of course he is right. I agreed on that. “But I want my jogging time back,” I said, and felt tears come up, together with the core of this wish:
I want my freedom back. I want my life back. Especially now, as it gets warmer and now that I can start to think in wider perspectives again. I want to be able to walk along the ocean again (which I shouldn’t do right now anyway, as too much sun isn’t good, as my skin is more sensitive, and will stay so for a longer while even after treatments ended. And at least I didn’t get a sun allergy as it happened to one of the others who enjoyed the spring sun and now is a red skin…)
And that is about the state of my mind that I walk into every other day. It is like a circle: emotion vs. ratio. A mix of wanting to test the boundaries and being careful and patient, and creative: we now bought a cross-trainer, which gives me the opportunity to be a bit more active while at home.
Another thing I started to do: go through the photos of the last months. The time of chemo, it also brought many good moments. I now began to put a collage together, to remind me of that. I was surprised about the number of good moments. That it altogether is an intensive time with ups and downs, but also with a lot of deeper talks on life… Like a journey. Maybe that’s where this journey feeling is coming from: the intensity of it. And also, the dimension of it, in time, and on a bodily level.
What really gets to me, though: hearing the things that went wrong in the current groups of chemo patients. Like the one who had to stay in hospital because her immune system was down, to the point that she needed a blood transfusion. And the troubling news of a fellow patient who completed all treatments, and now is back with a new breast tumor. The thing we all are afraid of. But then, its the negative news that you hear more – the fellow patients who are cured, they are never heard of again, and don’t come back to the oncology centre. Still, right now it feels like it’s troubled news on a weekly basis.
I am so glad for the art therapy. which helps to process it all, work with the fears, and try to understand what is going on emotionally. Here’s the painting I did this week: it’s an idea I had in April already, to paint the therapy time as a road. Back then, I had tried a first pencil sketch, but didn’t really know how to put it into a painting. Now it worked – each color square is a week. The start is in the lower right corner, the two towers are the book fair. That was the day before I found the lump:
From there, the road moves towards the left: to the hospital stay, the operation, the big question mark of the therapy: chemo yes or no? Which then turned to: sorry, it’s yes. And then the time on the island, this bubble of time, of preparing mentally.
Altogether, the painting turned out more colorful than I first expected. Apart from that thing on the right side. “What is that?” ny therapist asked, curious for it. “I am not sure,” I said. But looking at it, I realized: that’s the other direction things might have taken. When i hadn’t noticed the lump. When it have kept growing, week by week, going from stage 2 to 3 and onwards, rising in size and danger and instability.
Interesting that I picked that height for it, and that the therapy will need all its time to reach high enough to cross over that dark alternative.
And interesting how those paintings work, that you start the session with a look at the current situation / emotional state, which is then mirrored in the painting that evolves – and like magic, the subconscious seems just too willing to paint the situation in symbolis that can be rather easily be read and understood.
The idea is to get to know the source of the troubles , and then identify the things you need right now by working them into the painting. “What would the painting need?” – which helps to find the answer to the question “What can support me now, in this situation?”
For me, in the painting, the answer was: a larger horizon. Even though I don’t know how that road will look like in the next weeks – there are the 3 upcoming chemo dates, they are fixed. But everything beyond that is without date – the length of radiation is to defined yet, all I have is the first preparation date. But in the painting, I could give myself the sunny horizon – together with those open questions, which are also an opportunity: like on a journey, there is an open space, this element of uncertainty, which also allows spontanity. I can either sit and wait, or live the days as they come, with openness, welcoming the ups and accepting the downs. And keep adding colors to the days.
And a final photo, which is from the previous art session: Color touch.
(i also tried a selfie, which shows me with the first touches of new hair. but i guess i am too shy to post that yet).