Jan 14, 2022Liked by Elizabeth Bear

Thank you. I am super insecure about overstepping. As always, please do tell me if it seems like I am and I will make amends.

Some of my cancer treatment has involved repeated weeks long hospital stays so that context is there too.

This comment is for you and for others surviving cancer too, which I hope is okay.

- Exercise: I realized somewhat belatedly that when I was fatigued, falling asleep constantly and frustrated that I couldn't have thinking time to myself that involved sitting quietly (without just falling asleep), the way to get that (for me) was to exercise. It was non intuitive for me but it works. Absolutely.

- Eating: is/was hugely difficult for Jen and me. Professional pride for her (she's a chef-instructor) and fat acceptance/body image/just a really difficult change for me. Radiation treatment and chemo both mess with my appetite. I had to accept profound changes in my body and strength, and was made to quit weightlifting for fears of injury and infection. And my senses of aroma, taste and texture changed, got hypersensitive, got weird. I felt full when I was starving. It is very hard. Eat what you can when you can. I rely heavily on protein/nutrition supplement shakes, scolded my doctor for keeping me on a diabetic hospital diet when I was clearly having trouble eating it, and had Jen bring me delicious and filling food. We've found acidic foods like pickles sometimes really help except when they don't. It's a big, difficult mess and my tastes are always changing. We keep trying new things and hope it'll settle down when chemo stops.

- Trauma: I can afford therapy, so I take therapy. Trauma is only for sharing with others if they ask and you're nice about stopping when they say.

- Control: You can still say no and you can still have rights and boundaries (but you may have to advocate for yourself). But engaging with Western Medicine will take your control away. And if you are actively engaged in treatment, you can't say no to everything no matter how much you want to. People will try to help. Let them even if they're not doing it exactly how you want them to. Find a way to surf through what seems like constant testing of your control and boundaries that allows people in. Be prepared for constant indignities. Caregivers (and your body) aren't trying to shame you. It's just what happens. Be gracious when you can. Try to be kind. Get through it. Cry about it when you can or must. It's okay. They've seen everything before and they care about you and are worried about you.

- Grief: There is no way through cancer without grief. It will overwhelm any resistance. You're surviving cancer. You will survive grief. If therapy works for you and you can afford it, and have the energy for it, try that if you are getting washed away. Be warned that some hospital staff will interfere. Be insistent and talk with floor managers if you must.

I'm proud of everyone, but especially cancer survivors doing the work of fighting cancer.

You are doing hard work, unflinchingly, for you, for your family and community and friends. Even for strangers. We're proud to know you and glad you are doing the hard things unflinchingly. We stand by to help and we send our love and great regard. Keep on keeping on.

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Feb 2, 2022Liked by Elizabeth Bear

"Use every resource you are offered. There is no extra credit for doing this the hard way."

Quoted for truth and wisdom.

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