So this week I had the confimation that the back and leg pain I’ve been dealing with of late is the result of pressure on my spine and needs more investigation urgently. No one seems to think its related to previous cancer diagnoses but its plummeted me back into the world of scans, appointments and uncertainty. I’m an old hand at this game of course so I’ve got those wonder woman pants looked out, ready to tackle what’s ahead.
I’ve been asking people- who I thought might know- what should I do? Do I lie about on a chaise longue? Or should I be keeping as active as I can but try not to make things worse? I’ve stopped the exercises from the physio I was going to until we have more detail but I’m honestly in the dark as to how to approach this.
I am drawn to contrast this with a breast cancer diagnosis when frankly most of us get a barrage of well intended advice on pretty much everything. And then of course we are told relentlessly to fight it. Every war analogy dusted off so much so that we on the receiving end, run for the armour. The cancer heroes aren’t allowed to grieve or look sick, or get angry or feel hellish, or get scared. No the heroes are the ones who keep working, who run or walk marathons in decorated bras ( all through the night too as if a day time walk wasnt enough!), who make Sunday dinner in immaculate houses, who shield their families and friends from their suffering and take up tai chi in their spare time. And if we’re not heroes it feels like there’s a subtle undercurrent of judgement. And if the cancer returns, well then we get to be guilty too. Didn't fight hard enough, juice enough, exercise enough, ate too much refined sugar, gluten,dairy, drank too much prosecco....you know how it goes.
How I wish I could just wave the white flag and say, hang on a minute I’m a pacifist. I don't do war. I do want instead to be kind to myself, to encourage my wellbeing, to take care of my emotions, to rest as well as to exercise, to find joy in life, to nurture gratitude, to take time for people I love and not give all my energy to fighting.
So no war is being waged on my fragile spine but magic solutions will be received with gratitude. In the meantime there is naproxen, my favourite chair and lots to keep my head busy. And of course the lovely man who I married 40 years ago this week who is being a hero. I’m a lucky woman.