January 9th 2021
When I learned the tumor, now successfully excised from my body gets an all expense paid trip to California, while I hunker down in Delaware due to continued COVID quarantine precautions, I thought to myself…
“Really, I am grounded and the cancer gets to fly! This is so no fair! I am very much missing travel and adventures…” (and to be clear adventures of my choice are preferred as one must acknowledge cancer is an adventure, too, an adventure into hell).
I also found myself, oddly enough, humming going back to cali by L.L. Cool J
Yesterday was the follow up appointment with my surgeon and leading up to the appointment, I found myself once again wrestling with the growing pressure of anxiety upon my chest, but also within my throat.
I have come to recognize my emotional response to cancer shows up in two different ways:
- Chest tightness is associated with present day reality that I have a disease that can be painful, deadly, and feel out of my control. This is my present day fight/flight/fear response. (acute stress response)
- Throat tightness is associated with trauma from childhood unleashed from the safely contained compartment in my being when I was told I had cancer. This is my past fight/flight/fear response re-activated. (post-acute stress response)
In EMDR, a trained therapist will use the float back technique to help a “grounded” person gain insight, understanding, and clarity on past memories/feelings that have glommed to a more present day triggering event.
Yesterday, the tightness began to well-up in my chest as the time ticked closer and closer to my scheduled appointment because “today would be the day I would learn if cancer spread beyond my breast to somewhere else in my body” and I was understandably feeling both fear and lack of control.
I have felt both fear and lack of control before in my life…
As the tightness formed in my chest, I also began to notice a constriction upon my throat forming and growing in strength. UGH! Childhood memories of fear were trying to rise up and take over the narrative of present fear…not today!
“Awaiting pathology reports is enough to deal with today, good person, do what you need to do to RE-contain what has become unleashed with this unwanted adventure!”
I teach my clients about “tapping” (EFT).
Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment for physical pain and emotional distress. It’s also referred to as tapping or psychological acupressure. People who use this technique believe tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain.
Tapping is evidence-based and has been recognized as effective for persons with PTSD including treating both active and war veterans.
I sat on the couch and began to say silently to myself while tapping meridian points, “I am okay even though I am afraid of the cancer I am loved and supported…I am okay even though I am afraid of the results I am not alone”; and I tapped and I breathed.
After about fifteen minutes of actively working to diminish my body’s adverse response to historical trauma, I was able to find my throat re-open and even my chest pressure diminish…
Trauma from my childhood absolutely wanted my attention because that part of me that I thought was a-o-kay “already dealt with that shit a long time ago” has reminded me during this disease discovery and diagnosis time that “nope, you thought you dealt with this part of your past”, but you have apparently not!
It is an most interesting experience to clinically observe one’s own life events to gain insight for working with others, yet do not do this work alone! I remain grateful for my own therapist encouraging me to focus on containing past trauma as it becomes known because today’s trauma is enough on its own.
Body back to regulated. Polyvagal system back to neutral. Time to leave for my surgeon appointment.
# # #
Now that it is the day after the surgeon follow-up, I still find myself staring at the most recent pathology reports…staring at them as if I am reading them for the first time.
I had to keep pulling the reports out and reminding myself what my surgeon said,
First lymph node = negative for metastatic disease. Second lymph node = negative for metastatic disease. Third lymph node = negative for metastatic disease. Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 2, 19 mm = margins of excision are negative for malignancy~my Breast Cancer Surgeon
Translations: The cancer did not spread beyond the tumor, which has been completely removed from my body! No spread! No more surgery!
Go the fuck to Cali, cancer! Get the far as fuck away from me!
I remain grateful for having gotten it out of my body as quickly as possible, especially since the original ultrasound had the cancer at 1.1 cm as did the biopsy ultrasound…that fucker was .8mm larger then first believed. When the surgeon was asked, she said, “we do not always know the true size until removed.” I felt it every day and noted quietly to myself that it felt bigger to me as the days went by…I chalked it up to imaginative fears…yet, it also appeared quickly (out of apparent nowhere) in my body when I first discovered it November 3rd…I don’t know how fast cancer grows, but I now believe it was growing at a noticeable rate inside mine.
There remains one more significant pathology report that I should know the results next week during my radiation oncology initial consultation, but for now…today…
I again say, go the fuck back to Cali, cancer; and take all the evil mojo of 2020 with you! I’m done with you today!