Today I went to see the therapist who I have seen at various times over the past couple of years. I hadn't seen her since last fall maybe... but realized recently that it was time to get some perspective, to help me get back to mindfulness.
What brought me to wanting to reconnect with her is my eating habits of late. One good thing about being sick from my IL-2 treatments was the weight loss I achieved during that time. Of course it isn't a diet I recommend, and it wasn't lasting, once I got back to feeling more like "myself". Then in late March I was given a weight loss goal to meet by October 1 in order to lock in a lower premium on my family's health insurance for next year. Unfortunately, they based the goal on the last recorded weight in my medical record in 2009, which was about 10lb lower than when I was in March. Since then I've gained 10 more, and it was just the other day that I realized that I've been unconsciously sabotaging myself. It's why I don't join any organized weight loss programs; I've been there before and I always feel pressure, which leads to over eating, and then feeling even more hopeless. I did join our "shape up and go" program at work, but made sure not to commit to weight loss as one of my goals, instead focusing on positive things I can do. That is working out well; I feel good and healthy and while I am still more sedentary than I would like to be, am definitely getting more exercise than I used to. But still I find myself eating by myself, eating things that I shouldn't (usually salty stuff, a big no-no for a hypertensive one-kidney wonder) and more than I should. At one point I was in the car, desperate to stop for some kind of snack, when I heard my therapist from a previous session... asking me what would happen if I didn't eat during that commute, what would I feel? what would happen? Good questions, those, and when I was more mindful, I was able to use those questions to stop myself. But when I heard them in my mind's ear recently, I said, eh, screw it.
These were the things I was planning to discuss this afternoon. But as therapy goes, we ended up not talking much about my eating at all. Instead we talked about how I am doing, and how my family is doing, at this point in my cancer journey. I got teary talking about it, and finally R, my therapist, pointed out to me that I am keeping track of Jim, and of the girls, but not myself. She asked me if I am angry at myself about my situation. At first I didn't think I was... I don't feel like I did anything in particular to bring about cancer, but I am angry that the cancer could rob me of my life with my family, which is so precious to me. R told me straight out that I need to get off the "anger train" because all it is doing is feeding my fear. How true that is... and how draining the anger can be, even when I didn't know that was exactly what I was feeling. We talked some about meditation, which is something I am becoming increasingly interested in, and happens to be something R teaches. I want and need to let the anger and fear go, and replace them with kindness and grace. This is important not only for my personal state of mind, but for my immune system. I've been reading more and more about the importance of building up one's immune system, whether you are currently sick or not, and I know that I want to be kinder to myself, rather than as critical as I tend to be. A life filled with fear is not what I want for myself.
I got an opportunity to face my fear and anger shortly after my appointment. Back at my office, I got a call from my gynecologist, who had received the results of the pelvic MRI I had last week, in preparation for my consult with the gyn-oncologist next week. I don't have the written results yet, and probably won't until tomorrow, but three masses were noted. The first and largest is at my right ovary, and is the one we've been watching. It was unclear from the MRI write-up whether the mass is involved with the ovary or just next to it, but there also may be growth into loops of the small bowel. A second mass was noted in the mesentery; this was something that Dr. Attaran had read to me last week from the CT scans in May, but we didn't see any mention of it in prior scans. As she read the word "mesentery" I remembered Dr. Olencki in Columbus mentioning this mass last fall. OK, so that wasn't really new either. But there was also a small mass noted on the left side of my pelvis too. Great... super news. Dr. A. said that it would be up to Dr. Drake and me as to how we proceed since there is not just the one mass to deal with. I don't know what to think... and am consciously trying not to think about anything in particular. Shortly after I got this call, I had to attend a meeting, one in which I really didn't have anything to contribute. Because I could be silent, my mind was able to wander to bad places. Then I recalled R telling me today to keep noticing my breathing, so I did that, and kept taking deep breaths. Before too long the panicky feeling dissolved and I was able to focus on my meeting a bit more.
How lucky was I to have that experience so soon after my therapy appointment????