What is cognitive dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is defined by Google dictionary as "The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change."
Living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer
My life, living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, is a messy combination of normal and the surreal all at once, every day. I've had the knowledge of my terminal diagnosis for nearly two years. That's a pretty good amount of time to assimilate a new way of doing life in the middle of extensive and continuous medical treatment and yet some days it feels like a distant dream. Some days I wake and for a few moments, it almost seems like the diagnosis was given to someone else. Living day to day with this cognitive dissonance can be truly challenging in a variety of ways and I don't pretend to have any illuminating answers; at the same time, I've figured a few things out.
Raising children while living with metastatic breast cancer
As many of you know, I have two little boys. They have to go to school every day, they have to have their clothes washed, they have to eat, they need to be cuddled and their conflicts mediated. These experiences are part of normal life. I know lots of women who are handling the same amount of tasks associated with raising children and this part of my life is very similar.
Living in the moment
One really good advantage of having little kids is that they live in the moment all the time. What matters to them is right now, so that is a good coping mechanism, to simply copy them, to just revel in the moments with them. Being present, embracing the moments with them is truly life-giving and then they start fighting and the bubble bursts. That bubble for them is pretty easily repaired. One thing I've learned about raising boys is that they will be laughing one minute, crying the next, love you fiercely one minute and hate you the next. Their emotions are big and sometimes unwieldy but are often short-lived. The bubble of normal life bursting is a much bigger deal for me because I think mine is much more fragile. What I know and my boys don't know yet is that life can change in an instant forever.
Metastatic breast cancer is disruptive
My diagnosis intrudes into my normal routine rather regularly. The biggest disruption are scans or testing where the doctors are looking for how well my cancer is behaving. That happens about every 6 months for me right now since I've been stable for about 18 months. Medical appointments happen more often but are less dispositive. The reminders are a little less, I think.
So how do you live with the disruption of cancer?
Do you have to take breaks from cancer?
Do the people around you understand how to cope with reminders?
Have you gained new friends in your metastatic cancer journey?