I know I haven’t written a post for my blog in over a year. That’s because I’m now at the tail end of my recovery from breast cancer, which has taken me all that time. Last Oct. 24 (my birthday, no less), I was on the operating table, having a small tumor removed and discovering that that’s all it was, and nothing more, thank goodness. A few days ago, I passed my current mammogram with flying colors. I have two more infusion treatments to go, and by Dec. 5, I’ll be done.
At the beginning of this process, I thought I would use my blog to write about my experience of being a business owner with cancer, and how it changed the way I had to conduct myself. Once I started writing, I realized it was too difficult to share that journey publicly and instead used CaringBridge to write a monthly journal. It’s an online application specifically for people with disease challenges, to allow private communication with friends and colleagues as opposed to the world of Facebook. It worked out well for me, and I was able to exorcise my writing demons in seven good journal chapters, complete with photos.
At the end of a year of treatment, I am feeling much better, my hair has all grown back, I have more energy—but unfortunately, I have gained over 10 pounds. I had thought I would be stick-thin by now, but that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately for me, chemo did not affect my appetite, but stress sure did. And because I was feeling sorry for myself, I indulged in all my favorites for 14 months: Mt. Tom’s Homemade Peppermint ice cream in a waffle cone; hand-made chocolates sent to me by a friend in London; fried anything; eating out twice a week instead of once; chipping my teeth on cinnamon candies; and devouring Big Macs and Whoppers (no Impossibles, thank you).
Professionally, I cut back my work schedule to half-time, said “no” to big projects, stopped buying ads, ran a two-week waiting list for new clients, and quit my workday whenever I was feeling tired. I gave up my weekly lawn mowing and planting to my ever-supportive wife, and cut out on some daily dog-walking as well, pretty much the only two sources of exercise I ever get anyway, being a fairly sedentary person who loves to attach myself to my computer screen for hours on end.
Now that my energy level is returning and I am gaining back some of my glass-half-full optimism, I realize I have to get back to my normal functioning. I’ve gone back to a full-time work schedule, mentally kicking and screaming, as I am person who loves to procrastinate and welcomed being ill for the wonderful excuses it gave me. I have gone back to mowing the lawn and raking leaves. I have restarted the Mediterranean diet, whatever that is.
That one-year trip down the rabbit hole of self-indulgence all came to roost, though (sorry for mixing my metaphors; please note that no good writer should do that). My neglect manifested itself in some foot pain and the need to get (more) treatment, this time from an excellent PT attached to the same health system that provided my cancer treatment.
Of course, the PT instantly recognized me as the lazy person I truly am. It was not a good decision on her part. When she gave me each new exercise to perform at home, she explained how I could do versions of them “sitting on the couch while watching TV, or while working at the computer.” Can you believe it? Awesome! This works for me. But I am also a person who quickly succumbs to boredom and—yes—more procrastination when it comes to the “E” word, so I rarely do the full range of exercises I am supposed to do and have found my wandering mind taking over instead. In fact, there are so many other things I can actively do while sitting on the couch and watching TV (you can try these yourself!):
- Pick my nose.
- File my nails.
- Count the number of dogs walked outside my window.
- Stare at the ceiling, watching that single strand of cobweb getting longer every day.
- Compulsively unwrap and consume little, tasty Ricola drops for the tickle I imagine is in my throat.
- And so much more!
So, the lesson I have learned is simply what I always knew was the case, except that I freely admit it to the rest of you all. I am a habitual procrastinator who has had a good run of it for a year, and I now have to buckle down, admit that I’m in recovery, and embrace the future.