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  • Writer's picturecarrie berry

Sunshine, Insomnia and Changes

Hello again. It has been just over 1.5 years since my stage 4 diagnosis and much has happened since then, mostly in terms of spiritual growth and self awareness.

I lived the first several months in intense anxiety, and every time I felt pain or difficulty it was absolutely agonising to me because I couldn't figure out ways to snap out of them or disregard them. I had multiple episodes of dental problems, facial twitching, flank pain, which I tried hard to self diagnose. Of course, in usual Carrie fashion, they all turned out to be nothing at all. I tracked my tumor marker trends like a hawk and experienced a lot of stress every time prior to my meeting with the doctor. Whenever my markers went up, it would mean days of insomnia and worst case scenarios.

Then, sometime after the one year mark, I had to miss my check up at the hospital because of heavy rain that caused the hospital to close. When I went the next day, my tumor markers were unavailable for viewing because the lab techs didn't go to work, so I went the whole month without knowing. Miraculously, the following month, I saw my last months numbers but couldn't see the current months numbers because of a typhoon. The third month, my blood test was too close to my visit that the numbers also weren't ready. Things were getting curiouser and curiouser! The doctor said to me, come on, the number is just a number, go live your life Carrie. Don't be constrained by a number on a screen. This is what I knew from day one, but things always don't seem to sink into me until the universe decides to intervene. Major lesson of the year - signs exist everywhere in this benevolent universe, but you can only see things that you want to see. My therapist has also been reminding me that my prefrontal cortex is sounding a flight or fight alarm at me constantly. It is hyperactive and faulty maybe due to my childhood or maybe because I was born this way, but not to be critical of myself too much, I would've survived well in a warzone or something. I simply must remind myself to be analytical about the actual risk at hand, and to identify how wide my road exactly is. Do I have space to walk and live or are my options really narrowing down? I don't need to feel alarm before danger actually strikes, and I can only take steps to speak to myself about this if my brain doesn't naturally quiet down. Last July my CA15.3 was at 280, and today they are at 53. I don't know what's in store for the short term future, but I have strong visualizations of my remaining 2 tumors becoming metabolically quiescent. That the doctor will announce me cancer free. That I will continue to take Ribociclib for a long long time. That I will travel, and I might even go back to work again.

I had been suffering a lot from insomnia and difficulty falling asleep, which all breast cancer patients seem to attribute to the medication, and that doctors seem to say are due to my "many thoughts". Further digging led me to believe that my sudden drop in Estrogen has impacted my magnesium absorption, which in turn has lowered my melatonin production. I've begun cautiously taking a magnesium citrate supplement (200mg) every few days before bed which seems to be helping me sleep. Over supplementing magnesium could be dangerous so I've only been comfortable taking it in small quantities. I've noticed that getting early sunshine before applying sunscreens and face creams has left me feeling uplifted in a way no amount of mental intervention can. Sometimes you just have to cut yourself some slack, and acknowledge that your body is just built poorly. NO, you are not feeling sad because you are mentally weak, it's because the chemistry of your body is failing you. You are having trouble sleeping not because you are an emotional freak of a woman, it's because they physically broke your hormone making organs.

It has taken me years to identify the changes I need to make to improve my life. I need to stop my addiction to screen time in order to make space for the many other things I want to try. I need to stop allowing hypersensitive feelings dominate my brain. I need to stop living in the past or anticipating the future. I need to be 100% intentional in feeling joy, at every present moment of my day. I need to stop giving time and energy to other people, and focus on giving everything to myself. I need to stop blaming myself for the things that don't work in my life.

Today, I am giving myself a lot of grace. I am reminding myself that I did good. Some things don't work because this is how the universe works - things break so that you can fix them. And just like when we were kids, the moment you learn that you can repair something all by yourself, is the moment that you realise - life could be easy. More great things are going to happen because I will make them great.

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