I rode my bike 70 miles yesterday, to and from my doctor’s appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Monmouth County, NJ. It was cold and I was carrying a heavy backpack (now that I no longer have a “bike support team”), and I didn’t even know if my route was bikable. For some reason though, I felt more strongly about biking yesterday than I did any single day of my cross country journey and I think it is because I needed to reinforce for myself that though I would be a “patient” while in the hospital, I could define myself as something else by taking charge of my journey to and from. While it is true that “a rose by any other name is still a rose”, it matters how we conceive of and define ourselves. In the hospital, being poked and prodded in a little blue gown, it is so easy to focus on my vulnerability and become a victim of my disease. That mindset immediately affects me mentally—it makes me feel sad and powerless. I know that about myself, which is why it was so important for me to remind myself that I’m more than just a patient and that I do have some control over my journey. I’m not suggesting that anyone needs to go to such an extreme but I am suggesting that being mindful of how you perceive yourself is important and anything that can help you imagine yourself in control and not a victim is a huge step towards overcoming whatever obstacle you may be facing.
I had both a Brain MRI and a CT scan yesterday and I won’t get the results until next Tuesday. People in the cancer world talk about “scanxiety”—the anxiety that arises each time you get scans and have no idea what the future holds for you. The fact is, whether you have cancer or not, or are awaiting scan results or not—you never know what the future holds so worrying about it is pretty pointless. Easy to say and very hard to do. I know full well that worrying will not change the results yet it is a constant struggle to continue to stay present and enjoy the moment without being redirected to the “what ifs”. I’m sure I’m not the only one. So what do we do? Distract ourselves, hang on to our happy thoughts, stay calm and carry on. Have a wonderful day :)