Healthy Mind, Healthy Body?

The day I was admitted to hospital, on June 22, I wrote a post called Why I’m No Longer A Healthy Living Blogger. I spoke about how the common idea of “health” has been too skewed towards health foods and running mileage. That’s not what health is about at all.

When I wrote that post, I knew I had a cat scan for that kink in my neck coming up. It’s what inspired me to write it, not my bum elbow. It’s proof that deep down inside, I knew something could be very wrong with my body. Something more than runner’s knee or a tummy ache from eating too much cake. There’s a reason why I freaked out at my mom when she made the doctor’s appointment for my neck. Yes, I had other things I wanted to be doing with my free time. But I also was not ready to face my health fears. I wanted to ignore them until they went away.

While I do try to remain positive and optimistic even after being told I have cancer, I’d be lying to say I wasn’t still in shock. Sometimes I look at my surroundings in the oncology ward and wonder why the hell I’m in there. I feel like this is some kind of bizarro life.

I’ve mentioned several times that I am actually quite talented at hiding bad thoughts in the back of my head and carrying on without acknowledging them. I’m able to do this even with my current situation. But some days, the reality of it all washes over me and I start to feel really sad. The other day my mom and I had a short argument about where to move a table in my hospital room. I finally said, “You think I want to be arguing about this!?” and broke down crying.

I don’t want to be doing any of this. I don’t want to be in this hospital bed or on this floor. I don’t want this IV line in me. I wish I didn’t have an oncologist, or have to tell strangers about a large mass in my chest. I wish I didn’t know so much about lymphoma at the age of 25, and I even wish I didn’t have the spare time to watch Arrested Development. I don’t want any of it. And yet I have it.

If there’s one thing that stupid arm accident was good for, it taught me a lot about how to deal with losing control over my body. It taught me how to roll with the punches when crap gets thrown my way. It taught me how to love my body, even when it’s broken. Even when it seems like it’s working against me.

So, no, I am still not a healthy living blogger. I’m not a cancer blogger. I’m not always going to be a fountain hope and strength. To be honest, laying in bed feeling ill seems to be the farthest thing from being strong. Everyone calls getting rid of cancer a “fight” and yet I can’t figure out how to throw punches apart from sitting in a chemotherapy chair.

All I can do is live life the only way I know how. That’s laughing and joking with my family, forgetting any of this exists. Then breaking down to cry when I realize the weight on my chest is literally cancer in my chest.

It’s just so strange to feel so healthy in my mind when my body is so sick.


I had a visitor this weekend…


Spent some time hanging out in the fresh air outside the hospital and the family brought the poodle by! He was mostly confused. I think he thought he was being taken to the doggie hospital.

Surgery is at noon today. They’re putting a scope into my chest to get a sample of my tumour because the needle biospy didn’t work. I’ll be asleep for it. See you on the other side!

Posted on July 3, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Dani @ Body By Nature

    Good luck today Susan! I’ve really admired your openness and honesty in sharing your experiences of this journey. I can’t even imagine what you are going through but from what I know of you, you are strong, brave and optimistic and that will get you through anything. xo

  2. Best wishes Susan on your surgery today. Your strength and what you have endured and what you have in store for you, the uncertainty of it all, yet you’re able to press on…just amazing.

    Of course you are going to have really.hard.days. I can’t even begin to imagine so I feel like anything I write will just be silly…but to say that crying is to be expected, would be an understatement. My goodness…I think that’s all I would do. Period.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers, every single day. I think about you all the time. I am always wondering how you are and what your day is like. Always.


  3. Karen Strickland

    Good luck today Susan!! I’ll be waiting for your update. I’ve been thinking of you all weekend and I’m glad to hear you were able to take in some of the sunshine! Sending you a big hug from Halifax :)

  4. I don’t think anyone expects you to be optimistic all the time- there are going to be hard days. It actually seems that the “fight” is mostly in the mind, and that you can do- with a bit of crying and arguing and breakdowns in the middle. For some reason I’m not really a fan of the whole fight metaphor anyway, I can’t stand when people say “they lost the battle…”- just a personal pet peeve haha, so if you choose not to think of it as a battle at all, I’ll support that haha. Hopefully you know we all support you no matter what you do or what your blog is that day- we always appreciate the updates. A million hugs and good luck today!

    • I can’t imagine I’ll be using the term “fight” a lot, so don’t worry ;) I also really don’t like term “survivor”. When all of this is over, I definitely won’t be calling myself a cancer survivor. People survive every day.

  5. My thoughts are with you today! I can’t imagine how scary and frustrating this must all feel. Cut yourself some slack…no one expects you do be shiny and happy all the time. It doesn’t have to be a “healthy living blog” or a “living with cancer blog”. In the end, those are both just “living life blogs”, which is what every blog is! Best of luck with your surgery Susan.

    • I’m with Stephanie here. You don’t need to pigeonhole (now where the heck did that word association come from?) yourself with a type of blog. I love “living life blogs”.

      Good luck with the procedure today.

  6. Good luck with the surgery today, Susan. I think the term ‘fight’ means a lot of things. It’s not just the physical fight, but the fight to keep up optimism and the faith that you are on the right course.

    And hooray for puppy visits :D

  7. Yeah, it’s kind of weird how society automatically associates words like
    “battle,fight,survivor,war against” with cancer.We often don’t think twice about the words we use every day but they do pack a powerful “punch”!
    Words are an important part of imagery and visualization, so I totally understand how you may want to find your own words and expressions.

    You are one smart cookie, so I know you know it is real and normal to
    be writing about your breakdowns,tears and moments of despair.I am not here to read about “superwoman Susan” (though we may secretly call you that ;) but instead to read your honest and open thoughts…plus just to send you some good vibes and well wishes.

    Really good to know you aren’t gonna sugarcoat your life Susan
    (and by the way is your Mum still making you go cold turkey on sugar?!)

    See you on the other side!

    • No, those attempts were short-lived :P I’m still being careful with my sugar, but that isn’t saying much compared to the amount I used to eat!

  8. Sus I love that photo of you smiling with Archie, with Jane’s shadow in the background window. And I love you, strong or breaking down, happy or grumpy, watching Arrested Development or even Real World Las Vegas…

  9. Good luck with the surgery today Susan. You mentioned that you’re still in shock, and I too am still in shock about your news. I love your honesty and openness about all of this, and I’m glad you got to spend some time with your super cute little visitor yesterday! Sending all my good luck vibes your way! :)

  10. By the way ,your mum’s dog is ADORABLE!
    Dogs are the best therapy around-hope he visits often
    (and that you keep posting his cute pic!!)

  11. There are 29348374 kinds of cancers (and other illnesses & life roadblocks) and as many different ways to approach recovery as there are people dealing with the diagnoses. No one can tell anyone else “how” to approach recovery (“recovery” <—I like that word!) because it's YOUR diagnosis and YOUR recovery. It's so easy for anyone to assume that they will act in a certain way in your situation when all they know is what everyone else says about it if they haven't been there themselves (nearly ALWAYS using words like "battle" "fight" "survive") and I really like how you are able to address how your choice of words (or omission of others) is important. The healthy mind that you have will be the Ace in your recovery. All of that random breakdown stuff, that's all being a human being coping with it all. I would imagine writing your true and honest feelings here (if you choose to) is something that you can't get from an IV.

  12. Good Luck – I’ll be sending positive thoughts :)

  13. Good luck with your surgery, Susan. I’ll be praying for you!!

    I think it must be so therapeutic to use your blog as an outlet. It’s something most bloggers do anyways, but I imagine this must be even more so for you. I honestly can not fathom what you are going through. But reading about how you are coping (which I think is beautifully by the way) shows how strong you truly are.

    I’m so happy you go to hang out with your puppy! That must have so brightened your day. Nothing is quite as great as fur love! :)

  14. Good luck Susan, everyone at ShiftCentral is thinking about you!

  15. You Rock, Susan! Honest, smart, funny and super brave — even if you think you aren’t. Why? Because you are willing to share your journey, the good, the bad and the ugly (I’m thinking food!) This information and insight will touch someone somewhere and possibly even change their lives. I hope knowing that gives you some added courage that you can use on your own journey. Big hugs from Toronto!

  16. Staying positive is a large part of the “fight” by not to letting the treatments and everything you “can’t” do/have get you down. You have overcome many obstacles in the past – mind and body. Maybe right now your body needs to rest and heal. Laughter is good medicine :)

  17. Good luck today. I’ll be thinking of you!

  18. Good luck with your surgery today. We’re all thinking of you.

  19. Hoping everything goes good today – and you get good news! It’s 8am on the West Coast right now so you are probably in surgery right now. Stay strong! (but know it’s totally ok to break down!!)

  20. You are so inspiring how positive you are being through this. I am relatively new to your blog, but I love reading your posts and seeing how you are doing. Hang in there and know how many people are praying for your recovery:) Good luck today.

  21. Good luck with the surgery!

  22. Good luck with the surgery. I will be thinking about you.

  23. True story: there is a therapy poodle who walks the halls of one of the hospitals here in town. He even has a business card!

    I remember that part of what my father hated when he was sick was how people just wanted to treat him with kid gloves all the time and act like he was fighting some sort of noble battle…when really, he just wanted someone to be like, “hey, this sucks” and sneak him in a decent hamburger.

    So…this sucks. Just remember, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

    • Omg!!! That is such a great idea. Archie would be a great therapy poodle too. He’s always lively and loves getting attention from people :)

      Also, they only let me have a liquid supper today after the surgery, and now you have me reeeeeally wanting a hamburger. Thanks.

  24. Thinking about you and sending good vibes for your surgery today. (((hugs)))

  25. YAAAAAAAY ARCHIE! That made my day, I squealed and shouted to Marshall that you got to see him. I am hoping surgery went well. It is SO, SO good that you have such a healthy mindset. I have said it before and I will say it again: you are wise beyond your years. You may be physically sick, but you really do have your shit together. Sure, sometimes you may break down and be like why the hell is this happening.. but you also have the ability to look at it with a clear head and handle it. It reminds me of that quote that goes something like “If you can’t change something, change the way you think about it.” You are amazing, Susan, and I love you to pieces.

  26. You are amazing, inspiring and very, very loved. There is something broken now, but once it’s fixed you will have so many choices to make in determining your next adventure in life. Thinking of you ALL the time.

  27. I am so glad you got to spend some time with your doggie. I am praying for you darling!

  28. i hope your surgery goes well, and I am so glad you got to visit your dog :-). You are amazing, and as Brie said, this does suck. I wish I could smuggle you some good food!

  29. Susan – I am a new follower of your blog – I found you through Angie All the Way. I am so inspired by your courage. As a Mom with a kids your age I can only imagine how difficult this must be for everyone in your family. Keep the faith and know that there are many many people out here in cyberspace that are taking every step of this journey with you! My thoughts and prayers are with you today and always!

  30. I feel so deeply how you are feeling. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 (33 now), I felt those exact.same.things. Crazy how that works, but I remember thinking I don’t want any part of this! I am FINE! I don’t want an oncologist, I don’t want chemo, or to lose my hair! I don’t want to deal with cancer and I don’t want to have to tell my kids that “Mommy is sick,” when clearly I am not! Even as I type this all those feelings are rushing back… But it is a process, and you will make it, it just takes time (unfortunately). Before you know it, you will learn how to embrace your inner Fighter and you will be encouraging others in their own fight.

    You got this, sister. Hang in there. I’m praying for you.

    “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Mark 5:36

  31. The C word, when you hear it attached to you your breath leaves your body, then you listen and digest and think and maybe cry and then feel hopeful then sad, then comes resolve, maybe disbelief, then self pity, resolve again, disbelief, more self pity, anger and hopefully a good solid positive attitude emerges as you give strength to the ones that love and care about you.

  32. proudpatriot07

    I hope your surgery went well. I’ve only been reading a short time but your story is really inspiring. I’m glad you went to the doc, very ironic about that blog post written on the same day.

    I think sometimes we know when something serious is wrong with our bodies, though. After all, we know our bodies and ourselves better than doctors who see us a couple times a year (less than that for some people, notably guys who are notorious for not seeing the doc!).

    So awesome that you got to see your dog!


  33. Susan, I’ve been avoiding reading blogs since I lost my job…wallering in self pity. Then I read this, a distinct reminder that people have tougher issues then not having a job. One of the reasons I love reader your blog is you are not a healthy living blog but a person doing the best you can with your life. Keep us posted on your progress. I’m sending all the positive vibes I have your way!

  34. Oh man do I just want to be there with you right now! I don’t even want to visit you IN the hospital, I’d try to do everything I can to make you forget about having cancer and being in a hospital.
    I know that with my mom, she always tried to remind people that she was not her disease. No one should have that much time to watch Arrested Development (besides me, perhaps) or have an oncologist or any of it.
    But this will be a bump in the road of life. Maybe this will be an interesting conversation starter in a few years from now. You are the last person that deserves this and you have truly become one of my personal heros (your up there with Julia Child and Ghandi).

  35. I’m so glad you got to see Archie! He is so cute with such a personality that comes through in his photos.
    The fighter/ survivor talk is interesting and makes me realize that my mom and family didn’t use that as part of our vocabulary when my mom was going through diagnosis and treatment for lymphoma. I’m not sure why but it does seem a bit media-based and impersonal and just couldn’t be applied to my mom’s situation. I also feel that sometimes people use that type of talk because they don’t know how to really talk to a person going through cancer treatment.

  36. I’ve just started reading your blog a few months ago, Susan, and when I read your news a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been following your journey and thinking about what you’re going through often. My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, and whenever someone would use the “fight” metaphor, he would smile politely, but never really bought into it. It was hard, and was both physically and mentally draining. But I can say his humour and family got him through those tough times. I hope only the same for you.

  37. Wow. Such great points here…and so real too. Sure, you are going to be optimistic, but that doesn’t mean this doesn’t suck, that it isn’t scary and that you won’t have days where you just want to run away. I admire your courage and your ability to get through this. Not a fight, I agree, but a will and a way. One day at a time.

  38. This post pretty much blew my mind. I don’t even know what to say.

    Everything you said was so spot on. Even the ugliest, saddest feelings are a part of life. Life can suck sometimes. Yet sometimes when we fully let ourselves feel how crappy things are, we can also see how beautiful life is.

    We only have this hour, this minute, this moment.

  39. Hi there,

    I’m a relatively new reader to your blog and this is my first comment. To say that I am disturbed by the hospital food would be an understatement. Although I love the Canadian health care system, for the most part, this is obviously one area that needs immediate attention.

    Check out this article – according to the writer, the average hospital mean is less than $3 !!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: