I had a good relationship with my nurses during my hospitalization. Many days I was in agony and pain that made me scream. But I enjoyed making jokes and having chatter with my nurses. I had a strong belief that I’ll get better, and everybody gave me positive energy helping me smile and be bright. However, many times my grin and liveness didn’t come out naturally. I often forced myself to smile and wished nobody had come into my room. But, whether it was natural or not, many doctors and nurses liked my positivity, and with their help, I could get better and leave the hospital.
After I came home, I lost my spirit. Even though my overall health got better, I still suffered from terrible pain. And I couldn’t do much except sit or lie down watching tv or sleep. Laughing made my pelvic so painful I couldn’t laugh. I purposefully stopped laughing. After a while, nothing was funny to me anymore. I used to laugh a lot. I missed the old days.
The chemo made it worse. My side effects of chemo were more psychological than physiological. I got depressed. I hated everything. If I see places I often went to in Korea on TV, I feel sorry for myself that I can’t go there now. I cried. Sometimes I tried to watch old Korean music shows on Youtube that I liked growing up to cheer my mood. But it only reminded me of my young self and how much potential I had and healthy at that time. I cried again. My husband started to worry about me and was scared of me. I didn’t respond to his funny acts and jokes. My face was always emotionless.
Everybody told me to be positive, especially now. One day I got so angry. How could I be positive, ESPECIALLY in this situation? How could they say such things so easily? So I decided to be the opposite and honest about my feelings. I started to show more annoyance if I was annoyed. I displayed my anger to everyone when I was angry. If I was frustrated, I cried more and louder. I rejected my husband’s comfort. And my days got darker and darker. I’ve been in this doom for a couple of weeks.
One day, this question popped into my head. I’m honest about my feelings, but why am I not happy? And I realized that living with this negativity was not easy. I was tired emotionally. I had to make an effort to show my darkness. I questioned whether it was worth spending my energy, which I didn’t have much. I thought about the time in the hospital. It was hard always to be positive, but it didn’t create the monster which tried to swallow me. Finally, I made up my mind. If I need to put effort into being positive or negative, I’d rather be positive.
Luckily at this time, my pain was getting better with the new prescription of Morphine. I started to smile and laugh a little bit; over time, I could laugh hard. I started singing along with my favorite 90’s K-pop songs. My husband felt my change and thanked me for trying.
But the dark monster didn’t magically disappear overnight. I’m still battling every day with myself about which one I want to feed. So many times, I thought I was feeding the positivity but was snatched by the monster again. But when I realize what’s going on, I try to turn my focus on good. Recently, I watched one of the most famous video clips of Jocko Willink, “Good,” again. In this video, Jocko says GOOD to everything even though the situation obviously isn’t good. His message is that whenever you have a challenging event, try to think it is a GOOD opportunity to improve. It was the perfect message for me.
I practice this without thinking when I see other dogs walking with my dog, Dingo. He has an aggression problem towards other dogs. Whenever I need to pass dogs with Dingo, I think it is a GOOD opportunity to teach him, and more dogs are better. Sometimes I even feel sorry if I don’t encounter any dogs. So I decided to imply this more.
I’ve had insomnia lately. I couldn’t fall asleep without videos or audio playing. I couldn’t bare the silence. Often I wake up middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. One morning, I opened my eyes about the daybreak. A small light was piercing through the closed blinds. I tried to go back to sleep but failed. I sat up and looked around. My husband and Dingo were still asleep. I barely saw their outline in the still dark room. I pulled my iPad out and started to draw them. It was peaceful. I was happy looking at them to know I was not alone. GOOD. Having insomnia isn’t too bad after all. It allowed me to draw the loves of my life in a new setting. Even the drawing came out a bit different than my usual works.
Last week, I had a procedure of changing a nephrostomy tube on my right kidney. My tumor is blocking my right ureteral. This procedure never gave me much pain, but this time was different. Even from a slight movement, I triggered the pain. I was drugged up from the pain medicine, making me drowsy all day. All I could do was sit or lay down watching tv or sleep. I felt so useless. And I got scared that I might go through the darkest time again. The pain got a tiny bit better the next day and the next day. But I still couldn’t move freely. GOOD. I changed my attitude. It will be an opportunity to have some rest. When the pain goes away, I’d feel better than before. So I started enjoying the lazy days.
Before I started my chemotherapy, I read a book advising cancer patients by a survivor. The author said not to overthink what the chemotherapy would do to you. Instead, focus on what it would do for you. At that time, I feared the treatment, and after I read this part, I kept reminding myself of the good sides of it. And I could go through the treatment without fear. Even though I’ve suffered from mental side effects quite a bit and lost hair, I believe my attitude helped me not have worse than what I had.
From time to time, I read stories of cancer survivors who say having cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. I think I can understand them, but at the same time, I don’t. I can’t be thankful for my cancer. However, if I turn the things that I thought were bad into GOOD, one day, I could also say cancer was good. And I hope I can get there soon.
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and am undergoing active treatment now. Unfortunately, my husband and I recently got into a financial crisis, including losing our insurance for my treatment. So I’m kindly asking for a donation if you enjoy my blog. Any small kindness will help us a lot.
Thank you so much.