Thought of the Day III

As I embark on a new leg of my journey, with excitement and fear, I remembered this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles) 

I hope that this will guide me in the weeks and months to come.

Advertisements

Helicopter Ride over Niagara Falls

Sometimes you have to push your limits, overcome your fears and tackle your phobias; sometimes you just need to be stronger than your deepest darkness and face your worst demon; and you might just realise that there is something wonderful waiting for you on the other side of the wall.

That is how I found myself in a helicopter with my host family last summer. Me, who is scared of heights, but somehow always manages to go up the tallest buildings to enjoy the view. I guess I like a bit of an adrenaline kick and I am definitely curious. Curiosity usually trumps fear of height, and I am usually ok if there is some solid ground underneath my feet and some sort of barrier that prevents me from falling down or my glasses sailing several stories down to mother earth. The helicopter did not have that reassurance. I wanted to chicken out of this family trip, but my host mum was not having any of it. So I sat in my seat, all strapped up, figuratively shitting my pants, and yet a tiny bit excited too. Any opposition at this stage was… well… useless… I took a deep breath and the helicopter took off, a lot smoother than I would have expected.

the end I had to realise that I was in for the most stunning and mind blowing experience of my entire life up until that point. Seeing Niagara Falls from above just took my breath away and I kept looking at this natural wonder in complete and utter awe. The sight took made me forget about my fear of heights and all I was preoccupied with was taking pictures, which are more powerful than any words.

059

028

030

033

040

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 9

Change. Normality. Chemotherapy seems like a distant nightmare now. It looks like I am gradually getting back to “my old self”. Is that even feasible, possible. I have been changed though! A contradiction to some extent. Maybe? Possibly? An illusion? A dream?  So many exciting projects are awaiting me. Am gradually setting myself free again, someone like me can do anything? Challenge overcome? Don’t know, time will tell….

Outward Journey: PJ Harvey – Horses in my dream

Return Journey: Adele – Someone like you 

Red wine, latte macchiato and carrot cake at my favourite coffee shop. Photo shoot with a trusted and valued friend. Chit chatting about boys, men, friendships. The illness a very distant memory. Even if I don’t feel different that moment, the pictures show that I look different. The little sucker has changed me, physically very visibly. Puppy fat and baby hair. But “he” has not taken my smile, my laughter, my joy of life away. I am still me, very much me. Just a tad bit more courageous, stronger, determined.

Pictures are copyright of Carole Reckinger – http://www.carolereckinger.co.uk 


Steffi
©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-2©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-3©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-8©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-9©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-14©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-11©Carole Reckinger 

Steffi-12©Carole Reckinger 

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 8

It is official. I have a new favourite song, or a new favourite band, or maybe both. I am officially in love with Sirius Plan. Their cover of Blondie’s Call Me has just literally just blown me away. I cannot remember the last time I was hooked by a song, so completely, so fast, so deeply. Their live acoustic version of an old 1980s classic was so mind blowingly good, that I could not stop listening to it, pressing the repeat button on my smartphone again and again before arriving at the hospital. Back at home I listened to it again, before searching for more songs by this Franco-Belgian band consisting of three utterly amazing, talented, simple yet feminine, rock chicks. WOW!!!!!! I so want their album! And I want to see them live, and guess no, they are not only coming to Luxembourg in May, they will be on stage in a venue which is practically next to door where I still live at the moment!!!!! Second look at the date and I sigh in disappointment, they are playing on the Saturday where I will be invested at a Scouts’ camp, so I guess listening to them on youtube will have to suffice for now. I am so so glad that my radiotherapy gets me to discover so much wonderful music. Thanks to all my friends for their suggestions!

Outward Journey: Sirius Plan – Call me (Blondie cover)

Return Journey: Shakira – Gypsy

Therapy is going well at the moment, my doctor is pleased with the progress and the daily trip to the hospital has become routine –  I enjoy the ride in the taxi (Mercedes with leather seat, a bit of luxury for the warrior of the pen), the sounds and smell of the laser has become familiar as have the faces of the staff, and I love the fact that there is living culture of saying “hello” and “good bye” to everyone, staff and patients alike in the hospital. All good then!

Back to the music and my books!

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 7

Day 7 – it is all about the music.

Outward Journey: Tone Damli – Butterflies

Return Journey: Frou Frou – Let Go

Whereas last week it was a mother-daughter tête-à-tête, today it was a father-daughter date, a rather tipsy lunch. It was nice being able to spend some quality time with dad, talking about things that occupy my mind at the moment: the illness, friendships, the flat etc. I had a great time, thanks dad.

Day 7 treatment was also super-duper quick, the medical technical assistants where already waiting for me before I had even gotten downstairs to the waiting room area. Awesome, at least today there would be no delays, which I so do not want because tonight I am off to a gig. Mumford and Sons are playing at the Rockhal, and I cannot wait to catch up with my gig-buddy Miss Crémant over a glass of sparkling wine and a hot dog, I think Luxembourg is the only country where this combo of drink and fast food is completely socially acceptable. One of my favourite tunes at the moment is also “Lover of the Light” by this UK band (I stupidly thought they were Irish, but a quick internet search revealed that they are from London), my favourite part is the following:

So love the one you hold

And I will be your gold

To have and to hold

A lover of the light

 

I have been listening to this song nonstop for the past 24 hours, and I so cannot wait to hear it live. I will be so singing along to this. I also know that this concert will be a bit emotional for me, I got introduced to Mumford and Sons by My Former Best Friend (who henceforth will only be referred to as MFBF or the person who shall not be named); I will spare you the details as to why I had to insert “former” into the designation. I remember when buying the tickets we had started talking again, slowly, and I had hoped that by time we were both going to the concert, things would have been smoothed out. Who would have thought that I could have been so dead wrong? Yeah, not a great feeling, I admit. However I have Miss Rose and Miss Crémant for moral support tonight, and that means a lot. Surprisingly enough Miss Crémant’s song suggestion was on my playlist today for my return journey, which in regards to the circumstances, could have not been more appropriate – Let Go. The chorus really sounds like it is meant for me:

So, let go,

Jump in

Oh well, what are you waiting for?

It’s alright

‘Cause there is beauty in the breakdown

So, let go, yeah let go

Just get in

Oh, it’s so amazing here

It’s all right

‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

 

Quite fitting, I think. Time to let go of that friendship, stop trying for good.

However my new absolute favourite song is the one I listened on my outward journey – Tone Damli’s Butterflies is just beautiful. It makes me wanting to get up and dance, and dancing I will be tonight!

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 6

Gratitude. Inspiration. Change. I think those are the key words for today. There have been a couple of interesting moments in this particular Day 6 of radiotherapy.

First of all I read an article in my favourite newspaper, The Independent, about a young woman diagnosed with a very advanced form of breast cancer, who is not solely fighting this awful disease but is dedicating her time to raising awareness among younger women about breast cancer.

Reading about his person’s story made realise how lucky I have been, how lucky I am to be back in Luxembourg and to be no longer living in the UK, how lucky I was that I listened to my own body when finding the lump and not accepting a doctor’s receptionist’s diagnosis over the phone that it was probably only my glands or related to me having my periods. I know how my boobs feel like and the lump did not feel normal! I kept pushing for an earlier appointment, for an emergency appointment, but was not given one, probably because I was still so young (even doctors are shocked when a twenty-something year old woman gets diagnosed with breast cancer). What I did then was to call the gynaecologist-emergency number to get referred to the gynaecologist on duty, I was seen within 4 hours, and you know the rest of the story I guess. Every woman and every lump should be taken seriously, regardless of the patient’s age. What this country needs is a breast-clinic, which allows women to come in when they are worried about a lump, so that they can be seen straight away. In most cases, it is probably nothing, but then those women or girls at least have peace of mind. No one should wait weeks to be seen, that is agony, and torture!

I also felt inspired by K’s story, it strengthened my belief that I cannot just let this illness “pass me by” but that I need to do something, need to do something that is bigger than me and reaches beyond my own little world, that I need to turn something negative into something positive, that I need to create something worthwhile, lasting, something that makes a difference to others.

It seemed that I was the youngest on the oncology ward when I received chemotherapy and occasionally I felt alone and wanted to talk to someone my age who is or had gone through the same thing as me. I have found this person, Miss Rose. But I also know that there are other young adults out there battling the cancer, and I know that there is no support group out there for them. That is something I am not willing to accept- if there is no support group, I will bloody well set one up, and if it means having to go to every single oncology unit in the country to promote it. No one should feel that they are the only ones among their peers having do battle with cancer in their 20s or 30s. We might be the “forgotten” generation when it comes to this illness, but I plan on putting us in the spotlight and on the agenda.

I know that in people’s heads the idea persists that cancer happens to people aged 50+, but look at me! I need to break that silence, I need to break that taboo, because as Simon and Garfunkel sing “Silence like a cancer grows”, if we want to beat the cancer, we need to beat the silence. I know this is not everyone’s opinion, and I know that people frown upon me writing about my cancer, but this is something I have to do. It is an urge stronger than me. I always knew that I was very determined, but this is determination on a completely different level, I will redefine determination. I am on a mission, a mission which will make me busy as a bee (funny that my return journey song was called Las Avispas – the wasps, which in the lyrics are referred to as the weapons against evil, I like!). And I can only do this by being open and by being visible. It is time to step it up a notch….

I nearly forgot to mention the other cool thing about today – I viewed an amazing flat and if all goes well, fingers crossed and touch wood, I will be a tenant of a beautiful apartment in June. Wish me luck!!!!

Best personal moment today though was being called for my appointment by the cute medical technical assistant at the hospital – he has such a sweet, dulcet voice, that makes me feel like I am the most special and beautiful woman in the world. As you can see I am still just a normal girl…

And here is today’s playlist snapshot:

Outward Journey: Simon and Garfunkel – The sound of silence   

Return Journey: Juan Luis Guerra– Las Avispas  

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 5

Tired. I am soooo tired. And I have not even gone out last weekend, no no I was a good girl. I met friends for coffee and tea in the afternoon, and had some wonderfully delicious madeleines … picture proof attached here.

20130323_153709

Apart from that I got caught up reading Marc Levy’s “Un sentiment plus fort que la peur” (A feeling stronger than fear), a fantastic polit-thriller. I got through the 420 or so pages in just two days, evidence that I just utterly love reading and am a real bookworm. Oh you might wonder what feeling is stronger than fear … it is courage, but this is as much of the book I am going to reveal (the warrior of me is making a mental note of this – Courage is Stronger than Fear).

But back to Day 5 of radiotherapy– so I slept most of today, for which I hated myself because it meant I could not get a lot of work done. That just makes me feel crap, but on the other hand, the possible fatigue caused by the radiotherapy, was the reason due to which I asked to be able to work from home, so I could lay down whenever I needed. However it still makes me feel guilty – guilty for not working enough. I am doing my best, but I am considering maybe just taking a few more days off as a holiday this week, to get some more rest and feel less beaten up about my work. I had hoped that today’s playlist would sheer me up a bit, but alas not really….

Outward Journey: Tim Buckley – Goodbye and Hello  

Return Journey: Jon Lord– Pictured Within

Tim Buckley’s Goodbye and Hello really got me irritated, at first it sounded really depressing, and the structure of the song is really weird …. Quiet phases followed by really upbeat ones, so you think the song comes to an end, but then it continues, and this is repeated several times. This might be artistic, but did not work for me. The song is also really long, 8 minutes, for me it was a bit of a pain listening to it for the full length, the song just made me really jumpy. I felt unsettled and confused. I try and listen to the lyrics, but really struggled to find out what the song was all about. “Miss Baker”, I thought, “What were you thinking suggesting that song to me?” I got into the taxi in a bit of a grumpy mood, because if I have a good song I keep listening to it over and over again, and I just could not do it with this one.

However, for one reason or another, I don’t know why, I had packed a book to read on the journey (even though I normally would not read in the car and there is hardly any time to do so in the hospital). Miss Baker had given me Caitlin Moran’s “How to Be a Woman” as a birthday present, and gosh she did redeem herself with that!! I was hooked straight away. It is part memoir, part rant about questions modern 21st century women might ask themselves. Oh yes and there is a lot of talk about sex, the female body and feminism. Utterly brilliant!  It is funny, witty, and makes me chuckle on the inside and think “Oh yeah, I have been wondering about this or that”. It is just mind-blowing, so easy to read, a real treat. Thank you Miss Baker!!!!  I was so glad to have that book with me as there were delays in the hospital today, I had to wait nearly an hour before I was called for my treatment (one laser had stopped, there were more patients, and some of patients’ drawings had been rubbed off so they needed to be drawn on again) so I was glad to be able to distract myself while reading. I was so absorbed in the book that I did not even listen to my return journey song until I was back home …

I seem to have had the pick of the “long” songs today, Jon Lord’s Pictured Within is over 5 minutes long, and it is a bit sad, makes me want to cry and that is something I am trying to avoid. Well, I am not really good with that resolution at the moment, at night the tears are back, and lately I have been crying myself to sleep…. Thinking of it, a holiday might not be such a bad idea….

Oh and on a really random note, if any girl or woman has been wondering where all the good looking young men are hiding in this country, I have got the answer – they are all medical technical assistants working at the national radiology centre. Just saying … and if you think now that I am shamelessly flirting with them, you are dead wrong… I am just too self-conscious lying bare-chested under the laser proton accelerator, I mean it would be a bit awkward asking for their numbers then, right? I wonder what Caitlin Moran would have to say on this? A tiny voice in my head keeps saying that she would probably tell me to be a feminist and to write more about dating, relationship, sex and cancer from a young woman’s perspective….Hmmm…. Food for thought….

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 4

Day 4. Friday. So it is nearly the weekend. How great is that?! And my playlist definitely had some awesome weekend-worthy tracks in stall for me.

Outward Journey: Coldplay – Life in Technicolour II

Return Journey: Sanatana– Jin-Go-La-Ba

I really loved the 1 minute intro into Coldplay’s Life in Technicolour II, I was even moving my head around to the tunes, the soft, calming, happy music. Aaah that felt good. Also the sun had decided to come out today, I was really excited about that. The sunshine was warming my face; I soaked it up with every fibre of my skin; that really felt like a little massage. This reminded me that I might just have the perfect song in my backup playlist – Cheryl Crowe’s Soaking up the sun.  I walked into the hospital rather cheery then, not minding the laser, wishing all the medical technical assistants a great weekend, and then it was time for me to start the same with Santana’s Jin-Go-La-Ba (a great booty-shacking song for a party). Weekends are wonderful, right?

So what I am up to on my weekend? First of all there is no need for me to go into hospital! High Five to that. Secondly I decided to make sure I would take it easy this weekend – so no going out or partying for a change. Instead I had planned to focus on my mental to-do list which included: dust and tidy room (did on Friday after my return from the hospital) and complete the online Safeguarding module, which is part of my Scouts training. I really enjoyed doing that and I feel a lot more comfortable no win my role within the Scouting association. I diligently took notes – that is why this training module lasted a bit longer than the foreseen 1 hour. I felt really pumped afterwards – I love ticking things off my today list. I also had a glass of a great Cabernet Sauvignon (a great reminder of my weekends in Hamburg) and then it was time for an early night. I had a good long night sleep, it is just slightly annoying that I keep waking up feeling cold even though I have my duvet and 2 other blankets. For the rest of the weekend, there is not much planned. Apart from some household chores, I will meet up with some friends during the day for some coffee and chats (and maybe a slice of carrot cake). There is also a book which is waiting to be read… so on that note the Warrior of the Pen is going to take a very short leave of absence. I will write again on Monday. Have a sunny chilled out weekend everyone.

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 3

Emotionally drained, that is how I feel today. The last 36 hours have just been a bit too much, or maybe the last week has been too much. Too much confrontation with stupid cancer. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, at least for the next few days. No I don’t want to be asked how I am doing or how things are going, at least for today. The warrior wants to take her armour off and step out of the battle ring, just for a little while. Silly me, I had completely underestimated today’s playlist.

Outward Journey: Jack’s Mannequin – Swim

Return Journey: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home  

I don’t think I can express myself any better than through the lyrics of Jack’s Mannequin’s song Swim.

So I gotta swim
Swim for my life
Swim for the music that saves me

When I am not sure I will survive

 

I gotta swim
And swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching

I haven’t come this far
To fall off the earth

I gotta swim
Through the nights that won’t end

Swim for my army of supporters


I’m not giving in
I’m not giving in
I swim

I gotta swim

Swim in the dark


Yeah I gotta swim

I can’t let myself sink

I just need to find the horizon

It is not as far as I think


I will just keep my head above

And swim

This round of “swimming” was very short, and in no time I was back in the taxi on my way home. Take me home, Baby, I am coming home.  

The Melody of Radiotherapy – Day 2

Last night I woke up and my body was very tense. “I don’t want to go through this”, it said, “I have been through enough physical stress”, it continued…. “I know”, I whisper back, “and I am so proud of you for what you have coped with so far. But we don’t have a choice… it is all for the better, this is a small price to pay towards getting our health back”. “But I don’t want to feel tired again”, my body argued. “I can understand that”, I murmured in reply, “and I will promise you to scale back a lot on my social life, to give you as much rest as possible, to drain you as little as possible, so that you can focus your energy on the treatment. I will try and do my best.” “Ok”, my body conceded, “ok”, less than convinced. “There you go, now go to sleep,” I said in my softest voice.  And my body hurried off into Morpheus arms.

Outward Journey: Kris Menace – e-love

Return Journey: Steve Tyrell – On the sunny side of the street  

Today was a real treatment marathon. Appointment with eye specialist at 9 am. Art Therapy from 10 am til 12 noon. Then radiotherapy at 4.45. Loads of driving around. I was already tired before even going to the hospital. Remember – less going out in the next few weeks – your body cannot take that much stress. Kris Menace’s e-love was the perfect song choice for my trip to the hospital, it slowed me down, let me relax, breathe. I closed my eyes and just forgot the world for a while.

15 minutes and 34 seconds that is how long the whole treatment procedure last today, which included undressing, putting white gown on, waiting to be taken into the treatment room, radiation, essential oil application, getting dressed and putting my white gown away. It is over in no time. When lying on the table and the laser was doing its work, all I wanted to do was to take a power nap.

Oh, and seems like I get new cravings now. “I want healthy food, loads of vegetables please”, my body petitioned. “That should be manageable”, I said. I had an amazing salad last night with loads of shredded greens combined with ripe and delicious fruit. The strawberries, grapes, oranges, melon and passion fruit were so wonderfully sweet. And there were two tomatoes filled with shrimp, it was just fantastic. So good, so healthy, so soothing. “Thank you”, my body said. “You are welcome”, I just replied and kept singing along to my return journey song “Leave your worries on the doorstep, and just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street….Life can be so sweet on the sunny side of the street.

20130319_201354