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Healing With Love and Routines: Grateful After Breast Cancer

I tried and failed to exercise. I struggled with infection in the surgery wound and I re-started my vigorous fitness regime every other week before I understood that I needed something different.
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I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015. I share the learning that jolted me back on track to a new life. This is my fourth posting.

My energy level was low after my two surgeries. I could only be out of bed for two hours at the time. But in a strange way, I did not feel sick. I was exhausted. I was coming out of shock of having cancer.

I was furious about my lack of energy. This was not who I was! I have always been energetic and in a hurry. I was born six weeks prior to the scheduled due-date, in a taxi. I learned to run before I could walk and Cheetah is my favorite animal. Now I felt like an old, lazy hippo. I needed help.

Kenny put together a daily program to restore and re-build my vitality. I started each morning with tai chi, followed by meditation. Next on the list was a cup of coffee. In that order. I delayed breakfast as long as possible as inter-mediate fasting allows the body to heal itself. My smoothie was a mixture of hemp oil, spirulina, turmeric and apple juice for taste. Then I could eat.

Writing this, I realize it sounds like a lot of work. But the morning ritual quickly became a routine. My motivation was high and it felt good to start each day with healthy choices.

I tried and failed to exercise. I struggled with infection in the surgery wound and I re-started my vigorous fitness regime every other week before I understood that I needed something different.

I was lucky to meet Sarah, a wonderful yoga teacher. She used our first session to help me relax.

Your body is very, very tired, she said. She pushed me down on the thin yoga mat and covered me with blankets. I melted into the floor. Her sweet and motivating presence and her words of gratefulness were just what I needed to fill up my empty reserves.

I wanted to do more to charge my batteries. I found Dr Wang. I received acupuncture both before and after the radiation treatment. It was sometimes hard to endure, but I could literally feel how it helped my body heal itself.

My "getting-well-fast-project" required my full attention and it was working. But the biggest healer was not physical.

Love is a caring and reaching out

I was in a state of shock after the cancer message. My life was new and unknown and very scary.

The moment I announced my diagnosis, flowers arrived at my home every day. E-mails and phone calls poured in. Friends insisted they wanted to help. My son and his girl friend flew in. Friends from Oslo and Singapore visited and we shared joy and good food. Anniken, who is a constant sunshine in my life, even stepped in at work and at times it felt like she had moved to Stockholm. It was both unreal and wonderful to be at the receiving end of so much love and attention.

I never kept a scorecard of those who gave me love and optimism. In fact, I declined most offers for help. I was not able to answer all the text messages, the phone calls and e-mails. But it made me feel taken care of because so many people had reached out.

But after a few weeks, I realized that some key people were absent. During the occasional text message, they told me that I was in their thoughts. I do believe that thoughts are powerful, but their lack of care and interest was hurtful.

There are so many challenging and painful moments during cancer; being nervous to get test results, waking up from surgery and feeling nausea, worrying about the infection. In these moments I had great comfort in knowing that I could reach out to a number of people if I wanted to. I would not have the energy to explain my recent fears to those who chose not to be involved.

If you want to be close to somebody, you have to show that you care. Your actions count. I am so grateful for all the friends and family members who know that.

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