Emotion fuelled thoughts become chopped up and fragmented, layered in a haphazard spectrum of extremes and moderation.
Some thinking you do on purpose and some thinking happens to you.
The thinking you do on purpose you can keep measured and guided, work in a contemplative and near analytical pattern from which you continuously make up your own mind infographics, flowing with the results of your thinking. You revisit thoughts in a purposeful way, make decisions, figure outcomes, plan, schedule, and package.
The thinking that happens to you, especially during moments of anxiety and uncertainty, is chaotic, randomised, it veers beyond reason and convention and runs amok in sometimes nightmarish symbols of dread and despair mixed with elation and hope. Swept and swayed by overwhelming, intrusive thoughts that keep on hitting you.
It certainly is when you try to make sense of the cancer reality. That there are mutated cells active and growing, defying your body’s ability to keep them subdued and bent on multiplying, threaten the whole ecosystem that is you. Especially when the second cancer is diagnosed and you graduate to the big time. Chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy.
It gets real and fast. And it is weight cumulative, tests, diagnoses, more tests, scans, ultrasounds, biopsies, results and reports. You went through it with the first cancer, now you go through it again. Before there is a prognosis the doctors are all poker players. Giving nothing away, reserved, stone-faced and non-committal. You can’t blame them, the first thing you learn in the game of cancer is that in oncology there is no certainty.
When results and reports bring more clarity and even relief, doctors tend to cheer up, and their energy changes. That is not small, it’s welcome and significant.
The enemy is uncertainty.
Those long weeks and months following initial suspicions that prompted the first tests are filled with more questions than answers; no-one knows anything for sure, doctors don’t speculate and the uniqueness of your body, your circumstances, means generalised information is not helpful to benchmark against.
And people around you do speculate, wonder out loud, search online and try in their own way to make sense of it. One can’t blame friends for their need to rationalise what is unprecedented for them as much as it is navigating new waters yourself.
Uncertainty creates fear and fear is a liar. And if you listen to fear’s lies, you quickly become overwhelmed and suffocated by the weight of dread.
I have never been a Googlechondriac, looking up symptoms and diagnoses just brings pages of information that doesn’t necessarily apply or correlate. And you go from a headache to three months to live by the third article you read. Not worth it, enough pressure from the reality you face already.
So, no, that doesn’t bring an end to uncertainty. Nothing really does, talking, thinking, asking, doubting, hoping, all do nothing about the overwhelming torrent of emotional flotsam washing about.
So what do you do? You do nothing. You just let it all be and unfold in its own time.
As you have to keep your strength up to give your body its best chance to fight and survive, you also have to keep your mind strength up. And that has many challenging moments, gnawing uncertainty saps your fortitude and tenacity. And as much as you know intellectually that you have to fight on and stay on top, you don’t always feel it. You don’t always trust that you can fight, that you have the wherewithal. It’s taxing to exhaustion and you don’t feel the strength, your battery is at one bar.
Not fighting the thoughts and letting things be, frees you from listening to lies fear tell. And you survive and get through this day and tomorrow you deal with tomorrow.