Helping you through breast cancer treatment

Things that cancer has taught me. Lesson #14: Control

Things that cancer has taught me. Lesson #14: Control

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have control of your life

I realise now that it is deceptive to think that we have control of our lives. That if we do the right things and don’t do the wrong things then we will live long and healthy lives. We may think that by living our lives in accordance with all the items on the “how to avoid getting ill” checklist, that we are in control of our lives. However, in reality, we are not. We are not in control of our destinies. We are not travelling along a defined road, but along one with bumps and forks and detours and diversions and dead-ends; many of which are out of our control.

We have absolutely no control over cancer. No control over the cancer cells as they start to grow inside us. We have no control over them once they have made themselves into a tumour. And, despite all the treatment on offer today, it seems to me that those of us who have had cancer have no control over whether the cancer will stay with us awhile and then leave us in peace; or whether it will remain with us; or whether it will return.

Once diagnosed with cancer, life itself can seem out of control in many ways. Not only could I not control the cancer growing inside me, I had no control over the extensive treatment plan nor any control over my body’s reaction to the chemo drugs, the radiotherapy, the Herceptin and the Tamoxifen. During treatment, I couldn’t control my hair follicles; I couldn’t control my completely over the top, crazy emotions; I couldn’t control the onset of chemo brain; I couldn’t control the onslaught of physical and emotional side effects of cancer; and I couldn’t control the basic running of our family home. I felt as if I lost control of everything.

Now, with treatment behind me I would like to think that I am starting to take back a bit of this elusive control. On a day to day basis, I can just about (with the help of various to-do lists) maintain control over the washing, the housework, the food shopping and generally running a home, bringing up two children and going back to work part time. However, I still can’t control my over the top, crazy emotions; I can’t control my anxiety; I can’t control the menopausal hot flushes; I can’t control what is going on inside my body; I can’t control my forgetfulness; and I most certainly can’t control control.

So now control and I have come to an understanding. Which is, essentially, that I don’t, nor will I ever have, complete control of my life. And that is a little unnerving.


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