Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Still Behind The Veil

Two years ago I found the lump in my neck.

As with all life changing events, it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

I still struggle. I still struggle with anxiety and depression about my cancer. Sometimes in the most ordinary moments I'm hit with the gut punch of oh my God, I had cancer.  

Anniversaries like these send me into mini tailspins. I start feeling twinges and aches, obsessively feeling my throat: is that spot harder than it was before?

Very rarely am I at a loss for what to write, but these days I am.  I am not sleeping well - a lovely combination of anxiety and the over-the-top menopausal symptoms that chemo and radiation caused.   I am seeing doctors.  I am taking safe and monitored medication.  I am putting one foot in front of the other, and some days it's all I can do.

There are still many, many more good days than bad. But like it or not, anxiety has her hands wrapped around my throat again, making my world go a little grey.

So instead of writing, I will share what I read at BlogHer's Voice of the Year.  Because I have to look back, but not stare. I have to remember the hope that is all around, even when the days are feeling hard.  And I have to remember that no matter what, I'm here today and I have so, so many things to be grateful for:


  1. I feel this powerfully. I still struggle with anxiety about cancer. I live in so much fear of its return and what I'll do if it does. It does get better, though. Each anniversary that passes finds me handling it with more acceptance and love.

    I'll be thinking about you today.

  2. Ellie, thank you for sharing. As you know, I too had a cancer diagnosis in sobriety (I was six months sober at the time). I go annually for scans and check ups and that always throws it right back in my face. When that happens, I hear my mom's voice telling me "Holly, don't borrow trouble" so I try to keep a positive outlook and keep it in the day. Please know that you are loved and supported, held up in prayers and loving intentions for your continued recovery, sobriety and peace of mind. You are loved.

  3. Ellie - Next week (Oct 15) is my 4 year anniversary of completing treatment. I wish I could say the anxiety over relapse goes away, but every little twinge in my neck still has me tentatively feeling, rubbing, massaging with a rush of anxiety. And those twinges and little pains seem to occur with enough regularity that I never quite can forget. I am certain this time the pain is a little different and it does not bode well. Yes, cancer is a wonderful teacher and I never really learned much from being healthy and we are all so grateful for our lives, for eating and tasting food again, for each day of health... but we also visit those frightening dark thoughts and feelings that those who have not had cancer do not experience. My oncologist and ENT try to tell me that at this point, I'm about 99% likely to NOT relapse... but that doesn't seem to compete with that twinge I just felt in my neck. They didn't quite prepare me for the hell I went through with radiation and chemo, so why start believing them now? Looking back, it all feels so surreal that I am not sure I ever quite broke through the denial that "I have/had cancer." And in spite of my relative health, I don't think I will ever come to feel my life expectancy stretches out forever like I used to feel. Your blog her video really captured so well my experience - it's spooky to me that I had the very same reactions and thoughts as I sat there with my wife and heard the news about feeding tubes, hair loss, not being able to eat... as always, thanks for sharing your journey. It's spooky to me how much your present experience still is like a mirror to me... oh, how anxiety sucks... it has become a regular visitor in my life in spite of my best efforts to practice gratitude and living mindfully in the moment. And it's not just about cancer - it seems to visit me at all kinds of random times and places. So be it... we persevere.

  4. That was beautiful Ellie and brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing your incredible spirit. Letting go.... ah.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story Ellie. I was wondering if you have ever tried Emotional Freedom Technique for your anxiety? Hope you are having some better days, you thankful you are cancer free. Fiona

  6. Love you, Ellie. It really does seem like yesterday and forever ago. And here you are, more healthy than ever, thank God. Miss you!

  7. Wow Ellie!! So much has happened since then....and YOU are my daily inspiration for SO many reasons! I love you and am beyond grateful to have you in my life....all because you are a brave, unselfish survivor of many things! Praying for your anxiety to calm, and thanking God for your recovering and sharing it all in the process. You are a beautiful, amazing woman my friend! XOXO

  8. By the way... though the anniversaries seem to bring back a bit of PTSD...every anniversary is also a wonderful and miraculous thing. I am so very, very happy that through it all you are still surviving and thriving and shining strong. You are an inspiration to me and to so many. Thank you, Ellie!