When you’re diagnosed with cancer it’s like you’re a sinking ship.
Everyone comes out to help you.
They come to your rescue, fix the holes and tow your boat to safety.
The only problem is that they don’t tow you to the shore.
They only towed you to the harbour entrance and then say ‘off you go, you will be fine from here’…….
Though you are not.
You’re still adrift and everyone has gone and left you alone to find your way back.
You feel broken, exhausted, misunderstood.
Life as you knew it is no longer the same.
Your emotions are all over the place and things that used to be simple tasks, are now triggers that your brain subconsciously has stored in its memory bank that takes you completely by surprise when you least expect it.
L.I.F.E after cancer treatment is something that’s not talked about enough.
We all get to this stage in our journey and wonder what the heck is happening to us. Why aren’t we going back to life as we knew it before hand? We expect that once treatment is finished we go back to who we were before and life carries on as if it has just been on pause for a year or two while we deal with this nuisance cancer. Though it just doesn’t. We are changed forever and nothing we can do as much as we might want to, will ever change the fact that we have been on one heck of a roller coaster, our emotions, our belief systems and our fears are all different from what they were before from the experiences we have been through.
Friends and family don’t understand either.
They’re celebrating that we’ve finished treatment but we don’t feel that excitement. We feel terror and dread of the what next. What if it comes back, what if this and what if that. We’re now living in the world of what ifs and the reason is because we’ve had our world crashing down on us in a split second before, we’re afraid of it happening again as it is all soo raw and fresh in our memories.
You know what? All of these feelings and experiences mentioned above are all normal. You’re not alone for having these feelings and thoughts. In fact, I’d be surprised if you didn’t relate to at least one or two of these. They’re all part of our ‘new normal’.
Often the next part of our journey is not talked about.
But in order to move on from cancer it’s important that we’re aware and acknowledge that we go through 4 phases of L.I.F.E after treatment.
Stage 1 - Lost
Lost: This is the phase you are in as soon as treatment is finished. You’re left lost out at sea and don’t know which way to turn next. The enormity of what you’ve just been through hits you like a brick as this has been the first time you have had a chance to actually stop living on autopilot of appointments, treatments and being told what is happening next. It all catches up with you and you suddenly feel overwhelmed.
Stage 2 - Insecure
Insecure: All the raw emotions are coming up for you. You’re angry, petrified of recurrence, tired, vulnerable and no longer feeling like you as you feel like an insecure mess.
You’re wondering why you’re not going back to who you used to be.
You feel unheard and ungrateful for life.
Why have you been through all of this and not come out the other end being grateful and appreciating the small things in life like they show in the movies. What is wrong with me?
Stage 3 - Finding
Finding: You’re now ready and wanting to find who you now are. What you love. What sets your heart and soul on fire. You’re starting to understand that you’ll never be that same person you were before diagnosis and you’re ready to find and rediscover who you now are.
Finding new tools and techniques in your tool box to get you moving towards the shoreline once more.
Stage 4 - Energized
Energized: Life is starting to excite you and make you feel in control and energized once more. You’re now creating your vision of what your new YOU looks like and you feel elated and passionate about it. The days that you struggled to get out of bed every morning and look at yourself in the mirror have gone. You’ve been replaced by this new person who now has a spring in her step and doing what she loves again. This is where the fun starts!
Embracing life after cancer.
For some women these stages may take a few years to work through and others quicker. There is no right or wrong and everyone is completely different.
So don’t panic and think you’re not getting to where you want to be.
These 4 phases are a process that takes time and work and sometimes you do need to ask for help and that is ok too.
It’s important that you understand this and be gentle on yourself.
If you feel like you’re stuck and can’t get past the Insecure stage and no matter what you try it still just feels like you aren’t getting anywhere.
That’s where I can come in as the lighthouse standing on the shore to shine the light on your path and guide you back to where you belong.
I’m here to guide and navigate you with tools to increase your confidence and start living life again as the absolutely incredible person you truly are and supporting life after cancer whilst working through these phases and feeling in control.
How do I know?
I’ve walked that path.
I have walked in your shoes, with the soles wearing thin and unsure of which way to turn.
I was left adrift for years and wished I had found someone to show me the light and guide me back to shore.
I know you’re worthy and I know you can do it too.
I’m a Life After Cancer Coach who has also been through my own Breast Cancer journey being diagnosed at the age of 30 (11 years ago now). Im also a wife, mum of two boys and live in Christchurch, NZ. You can find out more about me at www.kylietolman.com