I seem to be finding it hard to write about my feelings and the underside of what’s happening for me emotionally. The medical stuff is maybe upsetting or interesting to read (I’ll leave it to you to decide), but it’s straightforward, clinical, scientific, factual and therefore quite easy to write. And it seems to be providing useful information for friends, family and other MM patients. But the emotional stuff is messy, hard to define and put into words, even to get my head around, but this is what I most want/need to write about. It might be because I am not having an expected response…?

Recently being called “Pollyanna” by one friend made me stop and take note. She thinks that I come across as someone who thinks this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me? Maybe I am. And maybe it is… Am I really allowed to say that? :S

Well, I have no heavy responsibilities, no children, no job. I don’t need to work or even be seen to be looking for work, which I find extremely liberating. I have very little stress, I decide each day what I want to do and have total permission to rest if I don’t feel up to doing anything, which I think we could all do, but we generally don’t let ourselves, do we?

I’m getting a lot of positive attention from my friends and family, who are being very supportive, making contact by letter, email, phone, Facebook and actual visits. They seem to want to look after me, wish me well, make me laugh, send me useful, funny or interesting books, bring me plants, flowers, food and even lottery tickets.

So far, almost no one has said anything really stupid, awkward or offensive about cancer or dying. Bizarrely, when I told my next door neighbour about my disease (a few days after being in hospital when she fed my cat for me), she said “Oh, you should have told us…” Excuse me… Told you what? When? Why? It’s not like we’re best mates! And I’ve only just found out myself! But that’s about the only weird moment I’ve had. And she does feed my cat when I go away, so it’s worth keeping her on my side.

Across the road, another neighbour is about one year post-treatment from breast cancer. She’s been through chemotherapy, radiation, hair loss, surgery and come out the other side looking quite fit and very positive. She’s back to cycling and running and taking trips away. She has been supportive in a sensitive, understanding and unobtrusive way.

Early on, I chose to remove friends from Facebook who weren’t really friends… just people I knew, or friends of friends. Before making my announcement, I wanted a sense of having ‘my team’ behind me, so they needed to be people I actually wanted to communicate with. This is also true of my real-life friends and in other parts of my life.

Having a tendency to hoard and procrastinate, de-cluttering has never been easy for me… I mean what if I might need/want that jacket/shoe box/candle/piece of useless IT equipment/old postcard… at some point? 😀

I live in a small semi-detached house and I may not get past 65-70 years old, so what better time to clear out, refresh and take the remaining 10-15 years by the horns… once I can see what’s important and what’s not?

It’s so easy when life is just moving along as normal to think, “Oh I’ll sort that out one of these days”. The days go by and until you need the space or are pushed by some external force, you just don’t do it and it doesn’t really matter. But I am aware that the less physical clutter in my house and emotional clutter in my social life will help me feel less cluttered in my head and more able to get things done which I want to do, spend time with people I want to and be creative if possible.

I seriously don’t have a strong sense of time running out, which would make me feel quite pressured or sad, but more a clear stretch of time to make best use of and push myself past my normal procrastinating tendency. I mean who can guarantee 10-15 years? And they’re not guaranteed at all for any of us… so I do look both ways when crossing the road!

Just writing this feels strange, like I’m supposed to be struggling, scared, depressed or falling apart. But I’m not! Mostly, I’m just being in the moment… not something I could easily achieve previously, but it seems so easy now… I have permission. I strongly recommend that you all give yourselves permission too if you can, whatever your circumstances.

I have an Android phone, with an application called The Mindfulness Bell. I can set a start and end time and then it simply rings at random moments during the day, giving me the chance to take a moment out from what I’m doing and just breathe, look around and appreciate the present, notice any aches and pains and notice the good things like sunshine, a smile from a stranger, a nice meal, whatever. I love it… it makes me smile each time.

Pollyanna? She’s so goddamn annoying… all that positive energy. I wonder if I am doing it to soothe the discomfort of those who care about me? Certainly, I don’t wish to upset friends and family, but I want to be straightforward about what’s happening and I do not want to have to “look after” the people in my life. I am busy looking after me! I encourage anyone who’s struggling with the reality to contact a specialist nurse at the hospital or visit http://www.myeloma.org.uk. I have been advised that they are both very helpful.

The big voice of society’s judgments in my head says “How can a diagnosis of an incurable (I do question that word!) cancer be a positive experience????” So, I found myself wondering if my emotional response is a form of denial?

While I’m not feeling too ill or in too much pain and while I can cycle, walk, drive, receive visitors, go to the cinema/theatre, go on holiday, consider voluntary work, maybe take on a foster dog, etc. perhaps I’m not taking the whole thing seriously? So, I checked with a close friend and my specialist nurse on how they think I’m dealing with it. The verdict was that I seem to be approaching the whole experience very positively and realistically. I’ll go with that for now!

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5 Responses to Pollyanna?

  1. Kevin Kirk says:

    I have been following your blogs with interest and in the way you are dealing with the situation as it seemed very similar to how I dealt / am dealing with it. The latest blog and comment reply especially. When I was being treated I was the same as you. All I wanted to know was how things are going and what was next. I wouldnt have a clue what my counts for anything were, just that they were going in the right direction.
    Best wishes


  2. Megan Williams says:

    Wow! Thank you, you appear to have a very clear idea of where you are in the moment.
    You have addressed a lot of my own concerns very succinctly.
    We are all ‘Pollyanna’ . I would challenge anyone to show me even one person who isn’t fascinated with the doings of their own lives.
    Being ill has had many positive effects on my life too. I am less tolerant but in a good way. I no longer entertain fools merely to protect their feelings. I enjoy all the free time I have to do whatever I want. I even appreciate, knowing appx how long I can expect to live. Of course I have my bad moments too, when I can’t walk up a hill I would have run up five years ago. But hey, my Mum and Dad can’t run anymore either, not to mention a few very fat friends!!
    You write beautifully by the way. XX


  3. Marisa says:

    What a wonderful post, Jet. You’re managing to do what so many of us struggle and fail to do every day: live in the moment and pay attention to what’s really important. You’re an inspiration! (And glad you like that mindfulness bell!) xoxo


  4. Thank you both so much for your encouraging and validating comments (especially saying I write beautifully, Megan).

    The friend who called me Pollyanna had a heart attack at the age of 40, with a 10 year old son. She’s having her own crisis about it and reacted quite negatively to my very positive response to her, which is what initiated my doubts about how I am facing this situation.

    Another friend with ME said that when she got ill was when she got her life back. She feels a happier person now than when she was “well”. I really identify with that, but it feels like you’re going against the grain.

    But I am now, with positive comments like yours helping me along, accepting that how I am dealing with this is just that… MY way and it may not work for everyone, but they can do it their way. So there :P!


  5. I also love that you think I wrote something succinctly. I remember very clearly when I was in 6th form, my French teacher constantly saying that I needed to be more succinct. I’ve a good mind to write to her and tell her I’ve finally succeeded in doing so. LOL!


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