#radioniris

I am writing this down, on the off-chance that I can help another woman (or man, husband, friend, son, father) to be less panicky about breast cancer and the treatments involved, such as radiation therapy.

I had a DCIS* found in Dec 2018 (*explained below). I got operated right away, had all three high grade nodules completely removed. I healed during Jan/Feb. During Mar/April I have to go to hospital every weekday and receive 25 sessions of radiation treatment to my right upper chest. It started on the last day of Feb, and the wait towards it was the most stressful thing I can remember. I only ever had 3 panic attacks in my life, one was over a decade ago, the other two I had in February, waiting towards these sessions. I would wake up at night, sweat drenched, suffocating. My nerves were on edge, ready to jump anyone who dropped as much as a feather around me.

Now I am into my third week, I have received 7 treatments so far. My panic has subsided, and gave way to surrender. I stopped thinking about the side effects that were so meticulously repeated to me: scarring to the lung, brittling of the ribs, other cancers, the skin will come off, pain increasing and worsening after end of treatments, etc etc… I arranged for work to be part-time, go to work in the morning and get the sessions at St George late afternoon on my way home.

I come to the same machine, every day, and the same bunch of cheery nurses who tend to me during the ~15 minutes a session takes. There’s laughter and banter. What takes the most time is the set-up: I have to lay in the exact position, every single time. On day 0 they prepared a ‘cast mould’, and that is where I lie down in. Next is laser measuring with fancy green lights that cross where they must, and the nurses actually do a numberwang ; -D they call out numbers to each other (confirming the correct alignment). Then they leave the room, and the actual zapping takes ~ 3 x 10 seconds, from different angles.

The whole thing is doable, but now a 4th of the way in I can feel my skin giving up and the internal bruising increasing. I will see how see much more the effect will impact. I will come back next or so and write more about it. I use an (allowed) moisturiser from the pharmacy (Dermaveen, 100ml) to keep the skin from breaking up.

Update 21-03: I’m now halfway through the sessions. Today is day 15/25. I am still doing ok, but now the skin is sore, like a hefty allergy, and the bruising no longer ignoreable. I will continue to go to work, but will stop if I can’t. I get random pain in the area, like deep cuts, but not more than maybe ten times a day. But moving around I have to do slower than usual, so not to upset the whole thing. Two more weeks and then I’m done. I’ll report back next week or so…

Last update 06-04: It’s done, I had my last radiation treatment yesterday. I am quite sore, my skin is about as purple as the colour of the waiting room sign below, and very angry, inflamed, blisters and open sores, but altogether I am in good spirits, also because of the good care I received throughout the entire treatment. Plus the nurses were fantastic, lovely and caring and also funny, there was always giggles and good wishes. So next is now healing, which I was told will take a while. I’ll come back here and report how that went in a week or so.

But main fazit: Don’t be scared ladies, there’s good care out there xx

Final update 12-04: It’s now a full week without treatment, and my skin has recovered a lot. Not right away, the first few days (and nights) after the last session where the most ‘taxing’ (pain, heat, strong itch), but then the healing kicked in almost instantly. I add two photos just to give an idea of how I look now (not shown for obvs reasons are nipple & scar from the operation, which are the most angry & inflamed parts). I post this in the hope it takes the worry of someone’s mind, because from all that I had read before treatment started I had actually feared much worse than this, but could not find any depiction of what the effects might at least roughly be. (plus also posted in the hope not to scare anyone!). The inside is still sore and extremely pressure sensitive, and will take much longer to recover, but I could already go for a long walk, carry bags home etc. Life’s good again : -)

PS – Next steps: Follow up with clinic prof in 6 weeks (cells need ~28 days to rebuild). Then comes follow up with surgeon in July (6 mths after op). Then a full mammogram in Dec (1 yr after op). Surgeon & mammogram repeat 6-mthly for 5 years.

(the two lambs are just saying Hello and not to worry too much ;D xx)

Be fearless

The Stoics, much like Buddhist philosophy, thought humanity’s main problem was attachment. The more attached to external things – jobs, wealth, even loved ones – the more we suffer if we lose those things. Instead, they recommended we only be concerned with what we can control: our own personal virtue. For Stoics, we aren’t vulnerable because the only thing that matters can’t be taken away from us: our virtue & our values.

Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant had similar thoughts. He believed the only thing that mattered for ethics was that we act with a good will. Whatever happened to us or around us, so long as we act with the intention of fulfilling our duties, we’re be in the clear, ethically speaking. It’s our rational nature – our ability to think – that defines us ethically. And thinking is completely within our control.

I strive to live fearless and without baggage. There is no other way if you want to be able to help others and yourself. Angst eats soul and makes your heart small. I have to thanks to my Ethics peeps for all their good food for thought <3.

Persistence

Starting a new job tomorrow. All the panicky bells and whistles going, the familiar anxiety combo. But age & experience have their advantage in that it’s all not as overwhelming anymore. Instead the pressure’s rather distilling. Filing the essence out of my ingredients. My main USP I now know is persistence. I tend to not give up. I might not be as diplomatic or graceful as others, but I do make things work.

The thrust for that I get from this word-zoo in my head. Words are my shtick. In my mind thoughts are roaming the wild like a bunch of liberated serengetians. For me doing work and giving structure to a project is the side-noise needed to keep me sane… and let me ponder in the background.

Intuition and decision making

Brain science tells us there are three kinds of intuition: ordinary, expert, and strategic.

Ordinary intuition is just a feeling, a gut instinct.

Expert intuition is snap judgments, when you instantly recognize something familiar, the way a tennis pro knows where the ball will go from the arc and speed of the opponent’s racket.

Strategic intuition is a clear thought. It’s not a vague feeling, like ordinary intuition. And it’s not fast like expert intuition. It’s slow. That epiphany of insight you had last night might solve a problem that’s been on your mind for a month. And it doesn’t happen in familiar situations, like a tennis match. Strategic intuition works in new situations. That’s when you need it most.

This third kind of intuition is what I go by whenever I can. Strategic intuition is what guides the majority of my decision making. And while it is unpopular these days to request time for thinking, you have to take your stand and do it anyway, and allow for proper time to reflect. I have a 24 hrs ‘sleep it over’ rule.

Which compliments my other approach to life and everything, something that’s called the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide and act). This ‘rapid evaluation routine’ keeps running permanently on the back of my mind (or wherever my intuition-o-meter sits). Originally the OODA method was derived by pilots who apply the loop to make fast decisions and review them in a constant cognitive circle.

You have to swim fast when the water is cold…
ooda loop

Internal wealth

Reading about human relationships, and the essence required to push through. According to psychological research, the greatest emotional need is security. Yet, trying to live in alignment with your goals and values often conflicts with the complexities of reality.

Wanting approval is a normal thing, but needing approval is very different. A need for approval leads to working on projects one is not excited about. Leads to eating unhealthy foods one doesn’t want to eat. Leads to ruminating and obsessing about problems and regrets one could easily remove or fix. A quest for perfectionism actually creates procrastination. Perfectionism is about an unhealthy need for approval. It’s about a fear of failure and looking incompetent. It’s the opposite of courage. And it’s the opposite of mastery.

Jody Williamson and Stephen Covey say “an abundance mentality springs from internal security, not from external rankings, comparisons, opinions, possessions, or associations.You must believe you are independently wealthy, and that you don’t NEED a particular prospect. When you truly believe and know you are fine and secure without THIS relationship or THIS opportunity, then you can act honestly and genuinely.

I am in the process of establishing just that. Independence, and inner wealth. Freedom, from the need of approval.

I so hope I have don’t cut all ties to achieve this.

Wish me luck.

 

Autopilot brain

Declarative vs Procedural

– Declarative learning is acquiring information that one can speak about. The capital of a state is a declarative piece of information, while knowing how to ride a bike is not. Episodic memory and semantic memory are a further division of declarative information.

There are two ways to learn a telephone number: memorise it using your declarative memory, or use it many times to create a habit. Habit learning is called procedural memory

Declarative memory uses your medial temporal lobe and enables you to recall the telephone number at will. Procedural memory activates the telephone number only when you are at the telephone, and uses your right-hemisphere’s skill, pattern recognition.

Research indicates declarative and habit memory compete with each other during distraction. When in doubt, the brain chooses habit memory because it is automatic. –

That is what my brain currently does: It runs on autopilot to deal with tasks at work. The burnout does not allow for constructive creativity and forward thinking. The lack of love only allows for getting through the day on autopilot.

INFJs and doorslams

Today I learned about the concept of a doorslam. Or to be precise: I was acutely aware of what it is and how it happens, I just did not know it has a name. But can confirm: it is about self preservation, and trust. And it is irreversible.

From Quora: “An INFJ will exit (door slam) someone when:

  1. They feel a person is toxic and the emotions they keep giving off are burning them. INFJs are sensitive to absorbing and picking up others’ emotions. Who wants to absorb toxicity for long? Still, it takes quite some energy to get out…
  2. They feel used and a relationship has become far too one-sided and people are only coming to them for help and not for true friendship. INFJs like to help – we were put on this earth to help – when people misuse this, we get fed up and exit.
  3. Don’t like the people’s values. INFJs have a strong value system and are often clear about what is right and wrong. If someone does not have the same values they can find this a let down and give up on the person.
  4. They are also skilled at picking up the intentions of other people. When they detect people whose intentions are not kind, good, or healthy, they get out of the way and terminate the relationship.
  5. They feel things are bad between them and another person, and as they don’t like conflict they exit, never to be seen again!

INFJs are good on disappearing acts. They simply aren’t there for that person any more. The person comes knocking on the door of friendship only to find no one answers the knock. INFJs usually reserve rage for when they are in an inferior and highly stressed state, or in an unhealthy situation.

Read more about this here.

For myself this is actually a soundless occurrence. It’s more a fadeout or disappearance than a bang. There better is an end to pain, than pain never ending.

Gaslighting (jfc)

I just learned about a concept of abuse I had never hear of before – Gaslighting.

And fknell if you’re not richly grounded in the soil of your own truth and innate goodness, it is terribly easy to lose your roots and be toppled.

Gaslighting is to manipulate someone psychologically so that they doubt their sanity. It is emotional abuse where the victim is manipulated to doubt their own memory and perceptions. It happens when one person tries to overwrite another’s reality. Perception and view of self get undermined by little and big insinuations and comments such as ‘oh you couldn’t do that, you’re not organised enough’, and ‘you’re far too emotional and sensitive’. Words from a partner can seem harmless, but gaslighting is more insidious than that. It is designed to disempower, so the other person can take control and even make themselves feel better by having power over the other.

The truly destructive thing about gaslighting is that it nibbles away at your self-worth, your belief in yourself, your talents.

The worst kind of gaslighting is “spiritual” gaslighting, where the admonishments to one’s personality get couched in personal growth speak:

‘I’m telling you this because I care about you and if you become aware of how you’re acting and what you’re really like, you’ll be able to transform yourself and truly grow.’

Oh what the hell really, relationships are just so hardcore these days o_O  and I consider it absolutely possible that this happens frequently in relationships, without the proponents even really fully noticing, or the acts being deliberately harmful or meant to be suppressive, but instead are a haphazardous expression of bad habits adopted from chauvinistic role models at home as a child…

Good news is, there seems a way out of this Teufelskreis:

Develop an indestructible sense of self, based in deep value and love. When you become your own best friend, cheering yourself on, and believing in your innate goodness, you will be far less easily manipulated and knocked off your course. Step-up to greater self-responsibility and power.

  • Develop a strong sense of yourself.
  • Believe your own intuition.
  • Spend time alone and get to know yourself.
  • Create your own life and live from what is real for you.
  • Be immovable in your self-love and self-connection.
  • Don’t put others on a pedestal.
  • Listen to your heart wisdom and your intuitive nudges. Trust yourself no matter what.
  • Have a strong connection with something higher than yourself.
  • Develop a mindful internal barometer – stop and check-in before taking on board someone else’s opinion of you or of life.

 

Read more on that topic here: upliftconnect.com/gaslighted