The cliché is true: it gets better

I’ve written about some heavy feelings in previous posts and I wanted to follow up with how things are going now, in real-time, because we’re all caught up and my story doesn’t end there. 

I struggle with depression but talk therapy and medication have both helped tremendously. I’ve found that having an objective person to discuss life with – the good, bad and ugly – has truly helped me process and deal with whatever it is that I may be going through. My therapist helps me identify negative thought patterns, validates many of my feelings, challenges me when necessary and helps me grow. My medication helps level-set me so that I have it in me to actually do the work. They are complementary to one another and I’m truly grateful for both.

I feel as though I am managing my depression really well right now and while I’ll continue to monitor and assess as needed, I’m confident that I’m taking all the necessary steps. It feels really good to have found coping mechanisms and the right support to keep it under control.

At my lowest, I resented cancer for all the struggles I was facing. I felt like cancer changed the entire projection of my life. I could no longer live abroad like I had been for the years prior due to regular scans and monitoring. I had to reassess my career path. I was forced to care about money and stability far earlier than I ever wanted to. I had to deal with a plethora of mental and physical health challenges. And I felt like my carefree days were stripped away. Life felt heavy and I missed my life before cancer tremendously. 

While much of that has validity to it, I no longer feel the resentment in the same way. Sure, my life has its challenges but who is to say it wouldn’t have been challenging if I continued on my previous path? After a lot of internal work, I started to flip the script and focus on the parts of my life that I can be grateful for.

I met my husband because I had cancer and moved back to Florida, something I likely would not have done otherwise. I have a beautiful life with him and our precious pup, Ivy, in a home that we own and love. We’re ‘settling down’ as many would say and I am actually excited about it. We’re trying to start our family and while cancer (treatment) has resulted in some fertility issues, I haven’t felt resentment. To me, that’s massive growth! A few years back I would have felt deep-seated resentment throughout the entirety of our struggles. Instead, I’m able to just roll with it. I’ve processed this differently and I am honestly proud of myself for how I’ve handled the current challenges.

Lastly, cancer gave me the gift of not putting up with bullshit. I’m not one to talk about cancer as a gift, because quite frankly, it sucks and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. But I have to say, my tolerance for bullshit has diminished tremendously. I’ve been through hell and back and that means I won’t allow myself to unnecessarily struggle. Have toxic friends? Bye! Burnout from work? Time for a change. Mental breakdown? Easily prioritize self-care. Work-life balance? It’s a basic requirement, not a privilege. I am hyper-aware of my needs and I will forever advocate for my own wellbeing. 

I encourage everyone, cancer or not, to prioritize your wellbeing. You deserve to care for yourself the way you want your loved ones to care for themselves. Don’t put it off, because you never know what life will throw at you. 

It may be hard work to overcome the struggles that cancer brings, but I promise it’s worth it and it does get better. Life may be more difficult than it ever was before cancer, but there are so many beautiful aspects of life that I can focus on and I can continue to look back and see how far I’ve come.

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