The week beginning Monday 24th September is the first one since treatment began where I haven’t got an appointment at Jimmy’s. It’s half-time in the chemo. It’s a welcome break and a pause for thought.
In Adventure 9 I wrote about why I’m so calm: ‘I see myself as an object going through a routine, a process, a programme’. But this objectivity can be dangerous. My usual lifestyle is vegetarian (almost vegan), health supplements, three gym workouts per week, yoga, swimming, running, meditation. So why have I abandoned all that because someone mentioned ‘cancer’? I’m guilty of passivity: not enough subjective insistence on lifestyle. My largely fruitarian regime has been replaced by croissants, cakes, my own pizza and minestrone, and hardly any exercise. One thing that may have put me off supplements was that, when I asked Dr Jagdev if I could take echinacea to boost my immune system, she advised against it.
I was alerted to how I should be attacking my cancer by two women who’ve been reading ‘Adventures’ – Penny, who kindly lent me ‘Anti Cancer: a new way of life’ by Dr David Servan-Schreiber, and Anne at New Dawn Nutrition, who told me about Laminine, and Bio Superfood, and reminded me of green powder. I’m now in an aggressive, active, subjective mood. For a while back there I’d ceded control of my destiny: now I’m back in charge. Thank you, Penny and Anne.
I’m trying not to be too hard on myself over exercise. As I write, it’s 13 days since the last whole-day treatment that includes 3 hours’ chemo. (I only had 20 minutes’ chemo last Friday.) I’m surprised that the tiredness is still so extreme. This morning I tried digging allotment potatoes and packed it in after just a few moments. After trudging slowly upstairs I more often than not suffer a dizzy turn and need a sit down.
I’ve occasionally thought about the Hebrew Tree of Sorrows. The idea is that our sorrows appear on our own tree and, however bad we’re feeling, we take a look at other people’s trees and quickly settle for our own. Although cancer is my first flirtation with serious illness, I’m no stranger to depression. There have been times when I’ve wondered if it would be better to be someone else but I’ve always insisted on my own life warts and all. The other day I found the thought returning in the context of cancer and I’m stalwart in my determination to remain myself. I wouldn’t swap with anyone.
In Chinese the notion of ‘crisis’ is written as a combination of the two characters – ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’.