Today is an incredible guest post from my soul-sister Amy Sandvos. I have shared Nolan’s story with you before but if you’re new you can read it here. Amy has graciously shared her thoughts and personal battles with us and I feel so blessed to know such a strong, honest soul.
I’m here coming from the perspective of the caregiver. We had a 3 year battle with cancer, which my son Nolan won last April!
So, you get your diagnosis. Cry. Pray. ( Try and make your deal with God.) Go online. Mistake. Go offline. Pray. (Give God your newest proposal.) Listen to everyone’s theory on “why”. Then forget everything they just said, because 90% of it is crap. Cry some more.
For me, shock turned me into a machine. Fight or flight right? I’m not sure if I was fighting or trying to fly away into an alternate reality. The one where there are bluebirds and rainbows and babies do not get cancer. I was go go go all the time, at the births of new babies, blood draws, birthday parties, IV chemo, play dates and spinal taps.
Then, everything slowed way down. Shock began to fade. Exhaustion. So exhausted, and there was still so far to go. Depression. Asking myself, “Is this what depression feels like?” Despair, self pity and sadness settled in. “What do I do with all of this?” I didn’t know what to do, so I did what any exhausted sad person would do, I stuffed it all away because I couldn’t handle it.
Que chest pains.
Hello anxiety. That’s the thing about emotions locked away in a hidden cupboard behind your boxed up secret love of Katy Perry. They’ll remind you that they are there, and they want out. They will scream and yell and make a scene until you embrace their ugly little faces, and stare into their eyes.
What did I do to cope? What I loved, what saved my sanity… a little class at the gym called XBike. Dark room, music pumping. Lungs burning, legs screaming. Mind racing. Then, things start to focus, emotions bubble to the surface, things line up. Endorphins kick in and do their job. The gym became my therapist, my medication, my escape.
What should I have done differently? I should have taken the time, that good 10% of advice, and found someone to talk to. A PROFESSIONAL. I made excuses, valid excuses. “it’s too expensive, I’m not ready, I don’t think I have the time”. I’m pretty sure I was just scared. Scared of the pain that sifting through all the emotions would unearth.
I had to make the choice to save myself.
I had to unlock the cupboard and let those little uglies out, stretch their legs, then we cozied up for a nice long chat. I don’t lock them away anymore and they come to visit often. When I look into their eyes, I’m no longer scared.
Carey again: If you find yourself in need of counseling your medical professional can direct you to a licensed therapist. If you cannot afford therapy many churches (such as my church Bayside) offer reduced rate or even free counseling for those in need. If you are in the Sacramento/Roseville area and are a cancer patient or family member of a cancer patient Amy recommends Wellness Within.