Monday, 11 July 2011

Twas The Night Before Chemo

I never sleep well before Chemo Day. So instead of lying in bed and tossing and turning I thought I would just get up and write about all of the things keeping me awake.

When I was diagnosed I had to compartmentalize in a big way. The things I couldn't deal with at the time got locked away. Today one of the biggest things got unlocked. I spent the day with some of my favourite girl friends. All of them started as work friends but they've all become forever friends. Two of them are in town from Toronto so I hadn't seen them since I started treatment. There's something so comforting about friends that you can just slip into a conversation with like they've never left. They're the people who don't look at you any different because you're sick and you can still get to the important stuff - like admiring Michaela's new purse - out of the way before getting to the cancer talk. To them, I'm still Ash, not Cancer Girl.

We had a great lunch at Sandbar over some great girl talk. At one point in the conversation we start talking about the big C and I mentioned that one of the hardest things I had to face was telling my best friends. Susan, who was there, retold the story of how I told her and our other BFF Alyssa. We were all a crying mess that day and then found ourselves at Cactus Club ordering wine. See? I told you, with good friends, some things not even cancer can change. Anyhow, like I said, telling those two girls was unspeakably hard. I had so much anxiety over it. There was still so much I was unsure of. I was terrified and at the same time didn't want to worry anyone. I was so stressed that I wasn't eating or sleeping. So I compartmentalized. When they asked what they could do to help I asked them to tell the rest of our friends. It was too much for me and I just couldn't go through it over and over again. With that off my plate, I locked away all those worries away and let them deal with it.

I knew it was a lot to ask, but it wasn't until today that I really appreciated it. After Susan retold our story, Michaela talked about having to hear it from Susan. And then how Tiff had to hear it from Michaela. And how everyone cried. Why was I surprised to hear that? It's bad news. Of course my friends were going to be upset. But it genuinely did shock me. And then I realized just how good of a job I'd done at locking those thoughts away. Everything I couldn't bare to put myself through, my friends had to go through anyways. I spent the rest of my afternoon sort of baffled at the realization of just how many people are being affected by this. Don't get me wrong, it's so nice to know that people care, but it's also so hard to know that you are the cause of their worry.

What else have I not been considering? When I started this blog I made the decision to stay positive, update my loved ones here when I had some spare time, and the rest of my focus was going to Lyla. She has been the best distraction for me. There are days where I'm so busy with her that I don't give cancer a second thought. I'm now wondering if that was the right thing to do. Is staying positive enough? Is distracting myself the same thing as ignoring the problem? I've done a little research on diet and complimentary therapies, but I know I've barely scratched the surface. Am I taking this seriously enough? I know I'm just supposed to sit tight and let the chemo do its thing for now, but shouldn't I be doing more?? I know that cancer has changed my life forever. But what have I changed? To be honest, not much.

And now that those floodgates have opened, I find I'm right back in those early days again where I'm frightened and not sure exactly what to do about it. I had my check up on Friday and even though this thing has shrunk to 4.5cm x 5.5cm (that's half!), all I'm thinking about at this very moment, is "shit, that's still huge". This thing started off HUGE. And here I am, all of a sudden actually looking forward to tomorrow's chemo session.

Why does to the urge to spring into action have to come after midnight?? I actually can't help but laugh at myself right now. I don't know how many times I've said "Diet starts on Monday", but this time I swear I mean it! See ya later sugar. Beating cancer is a way better motivator than wanting to squeeze into an old pair of jeans, so I'm feeling pretty good about getting things started tomorrow. And yoga too! I'm starting yoga (again). Hold me to it people. Peer pressure me on facebook. I thrive on encouragement. You've all asked how you can help. That's how. Bring on the healthy living advice!

And to the first people who asked how they could help, let me take this moment to thank you. Thank you so much to my girls who were given the job of having to spread this crappy news. Thank you so much to all my friends that didn't take it personally when I just couldn't deal with calling you all personally to deliver this crappy news. And thank you so much to everyone who continues to understand that it takes me forever to return a phone call or email.

Ah. I already feel better having that off my chest and a rough plan in place. I know that No Sugar/Do Yoga may not seem like much, but hey it's a start. Wish me luck.

Much love,


  1. I am so happy to hear that you were able to have a muffin reunion! Keep up the awesome writing, hun, and please remember to be kind to yourself through all this. You're a fighter and you're driven and you just generally make shit happen but don't lose sight of the fact that you are going through something big and are handling it like a friggin rockstar! You're juggling more than most people will ever have to juggle so if you ever feel like you're not doing enough, or not taking things seriously enough please remember that. You're a champ. Period. xo.

  2. Hey Ashlyn,
    I love how you are keeping up and staying phenomenally strong. You can totally kick cancer's ass. All the best with the diet and Yoga. What is your Yoga schedule? Are you doing hot yoga or just regular Yoga? I went to Bikram's and it totally killed me. Too scared to go back but may be I should. Thanks for giving us the courage to get through life.

    Lots of love,