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  • Writer's pictureOC Warrior Queen

Newton's Laws of Motion

It has been a while since my last post. I think I ran out of inspiring things to say! I then had to remind myself that the purpose of this blog was to document my journey and that the inspirational aspect was more of the icing on the cake.

Today is day 5 after my 5th round of chemotherapy. I can't believe there is only one left!

You know what's strange? I am not sure how I feel. It's a little confusing. There is a mish-mosh of mixed emotions all surfacing up at the same time. I think I understand why and writing it out and putting it into words will help me make more sense of it.

Change is Change

This pretty much sums it up. Whether it's good or bad, change is the thing we are not used to, the thing that keeps us up at night.

This reminds me of my high school and university physics professors, quoting Newton's laws of motion. I find it interesting to find this parallel between the physical and philosophical worlds.

Do you remember Newton's 1st Law of Motion? We've all heard it before. Think of your high school teacher as they said:

"An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force."

An Unbalanced Force

Before chemotherapy began, back when the idea of cancer was defined in my mind as something that happens to others, I was a Newtonian object in motion.

I was on autopilot as most of us are, trying to figure out how to balance all of the elements of life. Five days of work, two days of life, at a constant speed, moving in a straight line. And then boom, an unbalanced force, namely cancer acted on me and my world came to a screeching halt.

I was now an object at rest. It's scary being at rest when all you have known your entire life is how to stay in motion. I remember feeling so uneasy about the idea of focusing on one thing, especially when that one thing was something I was not very good at paying attention to, i.e. my health. Maybe that's the problem when we are young, we don't prioritize our health. I know I didn't.

I am not saying that this cancer happened because of something I did or didn't do, all I am saying is that it served as a reminder that we all should pay more attention to our wellbeing. I used to make New Year's resolutions like everyone else so that I would take more time for myself and get active, but somehow, there was always something more important, more urgent, more some-other-excuse to do!

An Object at Rest

Stopping, dropping everything and focusing on myself is something I never got to do for more than a short amount of time. It was scary, especially because it wasn't a choice but rather something that was forced upon me.

If I stop doing all the things that define my life, then who would be left?

I think that's the scariest part of stopping. It's facing ourselves that scares us the most. When external labels like your job title suddenly don't play an active role in your day-to-day, you are forced to ask yourself who you really are at the core of your being.

And on top of that, I had to face this while undergoing chemotherapy. I was not starting a voluntary or planned self-discovery sabbatical, where I would get to travel the world or meditate in luscious fields of grass all day.

As scary as it was 5 months ago, I can now easily say that I eventually got used to it. I learned and adapted to my new state of being. I even started to appreciate being an object at rest.

The issue now is that I feel a little apprehensive about what life will look like once chemotherapy stops. I can't believe I am saying this but, the very thing I feared a few months ago, has in a way become a crutch for me. Yes, chemotherapy has side effects, but I've gotten accustomed to seeing my hairless head and to the cycles of ups and downs. Why? Because chemotherapy is also my safety net. Those monthly stomach aches are not pleasant, but they are a reminder that something is protecting me from the cancer returning.

What will protect me when the chemotherapy stops?

In-built Resilience

As I am writing this, and rereading it, I am trying to pull away from this the fact that human beings are resilient and that that resilience actually comes from our ability to adapt to, and not from fighting change.

When it comes to any type of change, what seems to be in common is that it scares us, but if we look inward, we can find a way to adapt, survive, and eventually thrive as we start mastering our new environment. We often say things like "I can't wait to go back to normal." However, the reality is that there is no going back. There is no normal to return to, and that's okay because I am not sure there was ever such a thing, cancer or not. It's just a comforting word that we've created in our vocabulary to feel safe because the truth is that "normal" is different for everyone depending on who you are, where you are and also when you are in your life.

Right now, what I am about to say just feels like words because I don't yet know how I will accomplish this, but all I know is that I will adapt to what lies ahead. I have proof of this, not only from the last few months but also from other parts of my life. Whether it was growing up as an immigrant, facing adversity as a woman in engineering, or pivoting my career, one thing that keeps getting reinforced for me is that I will find a way to weave the lessons learned and the experiences gained into my life and grow from it all.

When I look back at my life, I realize that resilience is innate to all humans, but also that it grows the more we exercise it. Maybe it's like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets. So maybe, we should not fear change, but lean into it and embrace it, because that's how we exercise our resilience and in return, gain wisdom.

Another change is coming as my chemotherapy comes to an end, and I will try to remind myself that this is an opportunity for me to build something new, and that I am being given a chance to reboot and refresh my life. All of the reflections I've had and all of the aha moments that I have gathered from this experience can be put forward to help me design and build the next phase of my life.

I don't know what the future holds, so I'll close by saying:

Yes, I am apprehensive but I am also resilient and I am confident in my ability to thrive.


OC Warrior Queen

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