A couple of weeks back I was sitting in a hospital bed, admitted after a tumour (and the ovary it was attached to) twisted, ruptured, and caused some internal bleeding. Hands down, the worst pain yet.
Luckily, everything seems to have fixed itself now. No need for surgery, my uterus lives to see another day.
Listening to the endless loop of call bells and beeping machines I realise once again how cancer can creep up on you. Still stable but suddenly unable.
Just 6 days beforehand I’d been visiting this same hospital for another reason entirely. Gifted with the experience of supporting my beautiful friend through the birth of her baby girl.
When you look up the definition of “labour” words like toil, struggle, sweat and strive pop up. As a spectator, all these descriptions ring true. Long and intense, how tough it must have been for my dear friend.
Watching a life come into this world was a beautiful privilege. It was also graphic, and surreal at times. The way in which the female form can change and adapt is just mind-blowing. Life had been growing inside her for 9-10 months, her body changing shape. Her hormones stepping up to the task.
The shapeshifting doesn’t end there either. Of course, there’s the labour but then all that work that goes into healing afterwards. Her body contorting back to its original shape, producing milk – all this running on no sleep from waking up to feed.
Awe, love and wonder make up the mix of emotions I feel when I look back at my first experience of childbirth. It’s got me thinking about my bodies own ability to heal. If I’m built to house a human, then who knows what else this body can do?
There’s no doubt in my mind that healing and self-care go hand in hand. To truly care for yourself you have to know your own worth, something that I struggled with in the past but not anymore. Cancer has changed all that.
It’s not just physical. I’m not talking about my daily skincare routine; it’s not about having a morning exercise routine either. In my experience sometimes that’s more a form of self-punishment than self-care.
For me, it means not being hard on yourself, being kind. Resting when you need to rest. Feeling your emotions instead of burying them deep. And Love, love LOVING your body as it is. Warts and all.
Women of this world! Next time you catch yourself thinking you’re too sick, too weak, too old or too overweight remember this – You are magnificent.
Thank you to the strongest woman I know for sharing something wonderful with me.