On my sixth hot flash of the night at 5:24am, I had an epiphany. It comes back to acceptance. But then again, doesn’t it always?
When my Oncologist said “hormone therapy”, I think I had a hot flash on the spot. Perhaps it was the memory of my Mother starting this treatment as she navigated her breast cancer journey. Like Mother, like Daughter (but hopefully it stops here), we benefit greatly, as our cancers were hormone gobblers, but we also see the side effects of hot flashes, sleeplessness and mood swings.
My mini goldendoodle pups are greatly confused. They’re big time cuddlers, and yes they could sleep in their crate, but then why get a dog. Every hour or so I need to shift them aside as I pull off the sheets (yes, the cotton “cooling” sheets) and grab some water. Bailey groans a little, but settles back in at my feet. Buddy specializes in the sleeping horizontally between my husband and myself, and there’s nothing mini about him as he T-bones us. That’s ok, if they’re confused, you should talk to my family.
The mood swings, oh the mood swings.
I mean, it’s kind of challenging finding emotional stability as we continue to navigate this pandemic. Plus, my daughter is getting married in two weeks, and who wouldn’t have a wide range of emotions at this time? It feels like my family and I all went to Disney World, but I’m the only one who got on Space Mountain. I’m swirling and unsteady, but as I exit the ride they’re asking if I’m ready to go to Frontierland for a Turkey Leg. Are you serious? The only place I’m going is Adventureland for a pineapple whip (helps with the hot flashes), and possibly a stop in Fantasyland where I never had this breast cancer at all.
At 5:27 am, it was like someone had put in big neon lights “acceptance”. Or maybe it was lightning of the passing storm, but it worked. This notion of accepting our life’s circumstances and making choices about how we wish to navigate our path isn’t new to me. In some ways, it’s kind of ironic that it took this long and that this actually seemed like a revelation. As a yoga teacher and mom of a child with cerebral palsy, I’ve been advocating for acceptance for years.
Oh, but this time it’s me. And my breast cancer. Not my Mom’s, where I witness and empathize with her. Can I find a pathway to accept that my body is seeing effects of a treatment that I need, even if some of those effects are unpleasant? I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out, as I’ll be on it for 5 years, but getting to that more positive relationship sooner than later would likely mean less head banging against the wall.
For sure, I continue to count my blessings.
I’m grateful my breast cancer is well managed, my risk of recurrence is low and there are no genetic markers. And, still, it’s hard. The sleeplessness pairs well with anxiety, giving me time to do a breast self-exam at 3am and ponder when my next scan will reveal.
So I’ll come back to the wisdom of yoga, asking us to simply be present. To this moment. Now. And accept what is true, right now.