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The Moment I Asked Whether I Was Living Through Love or Fear After Cancer, Everything Changed

February 19th, 2019 |
Young Adult Cancer, Survivorship, Emotional Support

by JessicaOlson | Patient: Hodgkin's Lymphoma    Connect


Are you living through love or fear?

 

 

Getting real and raw I’ll be the first to admit, I drown in my fear – A LOT. I mean, obviously, given that cancer is naturally really scary. When people think of cancer they mostly instantly imagine chemotherapy, pain, being sick, losing weight, losing your hair and the all time fave – dying. Whilst I do my absolute best to stay positive, to keep marching on strongly and to live life to the fullest I’ve come to realise that even throughout these practises, I’ve actually been leading from a place of fear and not love, which is why I haven’t been benefiting at all.

 

 

But how could you actually be fearful when you’re saying a positive affirmation or making the most of your day? Surely those are good things that are coming from the heart and a place of love, right?

 

 

Wrong.

 

I first knew I had a problem when I started to notice how quickly I would snap when something small went wrong in my day, or if plans were dropped and I was stuck at home doing nothing. I suppose the whole “live every day like it’s your last” is not always so motivational and uplifting, but rather anxiety inducing. I began putting a LOT of pressure on myself to be having the best day ever, every single day – which just isn’t realistic. This is life after all, not a sitcom.

 

I’m very blessed to have a partner as grounded as he is who brings me down from the clouds when I’m being crazy and bucket list-y. But not even my boyfriend understands the internal struggle that goes on within when I feel like the tumours in my neck are a ticking time bomb and every day is passing by so quickly. It took a while for me to really tune in to myself and understand what was going on under the surface. Why do I get so upset if I sleep in and miss the sunrise? Why do I get so down when I’m home for a day and my friends are all working? Why do I lose my shit if it rains and my beach day is called off? All these minute issues set me off and yet I know that they are minor problems, especially in the grand scheme of things.

 

A stereotypical impression of a cancer patient is that they’re always motivated, strong, positive and hopeful. They have the perspective to overlook any minor issues because they know the main thing in life is their health and recovery. They value every moment in life and can smile through anything because they know at the end of the day it’s another day above ground. They value all of their relationships and love everyone, with no bad word to say about a soul because they’re in constant appreciation of everything.

 

Whilst this fairytale image of someone fighting cancer is inspirational and lovely, it’s not usually the case. Most of us are battling with our mind daily, constantly trying to eliminate negative thoughts and putting every effort into creating great memories. When I finally dove deep into my psyche to find out why I was being such a snappy b**** (quite literally) and a continual victim to the things that "ruined my day", I realised why I wasn’t progressing.

 

No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying hard enough and it wasn’t because I didn’t want happiness enough. It was because at the very core, I was leading from fear. I didn’t wake up and want to have an amazing day because I am filled with gratitude and appreciation, I wanted to have an amazing day because I was afraid of how little I may have left in front of me. I constantly contemplated pain, sickness and death and so when something didn’t go to plan I logged it in my brain as another day wasted. I thought if I could make every single day absolutely perfect that I’d have no regrets, regardless of how things eventually turned out. If I recover then yes fabulous, I spend so much time in utter joy and if I don’t then I know I spent my time wisely doing things that made me happy. That was the intention anyway.

 

You see, living with cancer is insanely hard – especially when you’re not on conventional treatment or under a doctor’s care. You get stuck between living, surviving and thriving and everything becomes muddled. Every day I am my own doctor, motivational coach, comforter, researcher, meditation teacher, nutritionist and dietician. Within these many roles my intentions become skewed and everything suddenly becomes chaotic and overwhelming.

 

I began clearly seeing how many times I have said or actioned things from fear and realised why I constantly feel frustrated and unsatisfied. When you set each day up to be the best day ever, organised to the tee and created in advance the bar is already too high and any deviation from the plan results in disappointment. I was literally creating an expectation that couldn’t be guaranteed, concluding in my own sadness every single day. This sadness would eat at me at night and through fear, I began championing more things that couldn’t be realised or lived up to.

 

This way of thinking didn’t just apply to creating plans or what I did during my day, it was like an infection, worming its way into my every action or thought. I wasn’t juicing to nourish my body with organic, alkalising produce, I was doing it out of fear that my body was too acidic and I needed to cleanse and detox constantly. The issue with that is that as long as I had cancer I wouldn’t be satisfied with my health. The cycle was endless and then suddenly I despised my juices, they became a chore and I stopped juicing all together. The same goes with eating healthy, taking my supplements and consuming alternate medication. I did it all out of fear without a single moment of mindfulness or gratitude. I would meditate and visualise my body filling with white light, eradicating the cancer, but I didn’t do it from a place of love and recovery. I did it via fear knowing how much I have to lose if it kept growing and how desperately I wanted to live and for everything to work out.

 

Everything I did came with a little slice of anxiety on the side and I for one, am ready to return that meal to the chef.

 

This revelation is only a recent discovery for me and is now a challenge to overcome. I need to be accountable for my thoughts and actions and take the pressure off happiness, allowing it to come naturally. I now know that joy is not something that is planned and ‘the best day ever’ is not a man-made creation.

 

Setting expectations only lead to failure, so in moving forward, the only expectation that I’m forming for myself is that of being fully present, open and ready to receive. Anything more than that is a gift.

 

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JessicaOlson    Connect

Patient: Hodgkin's Lymphoma

My name is Jessica & I’ve heard "you have cancer" three times. No matter how seemingly ‘normal’ the diagnosis becomes, you never get used to it. I beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 15 years old and recurrent mucoepidermoid carcinoma just before my 21st birthday. My life motto is "fall down seven times, stand up eight!"

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