Hi! I'm Cadence

I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia on February 12, 2018. This is my story.

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Day -25

Today was the best day in a really long time. It started earlier than I wanted to, because I couldn’t really sleep that well again last night, but Sarah, my room mate at the retreat woke me up to see if I wanted to go to the first session of the day, which was Zumba.

I said no and tried to fall back to sleep for another hour until breakfast, but when I realized I wasn’t going to fall back to sleep, I got up and got ready with her and went. I totally loved it. The teacher was so full of energy you couldn’t help but want to join in, and the moves were easy enough for me to manage. It’s been a long time since I’ve moved my body with a positive intention in that way and it was a pleasant surprise to see how good it felt. It was a welcome and well-timed reminder that physical activity doesn’t always have to be this defined idea of what it was to me before I got cancer. It doesn’t have to be running 5 or ten miles, or doing a certain number of laps or minutes. It just has to be something. It can even be a few terrible dance moves to a song you enjoy.

As the day progressed and we had sessions about various topics and some round tables with open discussion I was blown away at how wonderful it felt to feel like you were not alone. to connect with women my own age, going through my struggles. Like you could relate to everyone in the room without words. The elephant in the room that cancer can bring with it, just disappeared. It was wonderful.

We did some seminars on relationships and round table discussions in small groups about all kinds of aspects of life with cancer. We had lunch, did yoga, went for a walk in the beautiful snow, and then finished off the day with a lovely dinner.

I’ve been fairly proactive with my approach to getting support while dealing with cancer, and as soon as I knew I was starting to struggle I reached out for some resources. I started by attending a CML specific group that let me get to know some people dealing with just my type of cancer, and then I added Hearth place in Oshawa that has a group for Leukemia and Lymphoma patients and survivors. Since I’m much younger than your average aged leukaemia and lymphoma patient the group is comprised of people often as old as my grandparents, who while wonderful and amazing as a support system, often don’t fully understand some of the younger age specific struggles about cancer related to all kinds of things like fertility and intimacy.

As time dragged on and the treatments failed to work as planned, I started struggling more emotionally and when I was referred to Princess Margaret I also was referred to an oncology psychiatrist that worked with me on my specific issues which helped greatly. They understood that I wasn’t interested in taking any drugs to deal with the feelings that the limbo of cancer was causing, I just wanted to talk about it in a safe space with someone that understood.

From there I registered for Pink Pearl after my friend Carolyn suggested it to me, and I’m so glad I signed up. All of the things that I’ve done to take control of the hurricane of feelings that can come with fighting cancer have helped me in slow and steady ways- but this retreat was like a giant LEAP.

I had been really struggling with feelings of anger and hurt about the way some of the people in my life were reacting to, or handling my cancer. It’s been one of the biggest hurdles for me. I often felt like often people avoided me, or were scared off by it, and that sometimes I wasn’t being given the permission to grieve and mourn the various losses I was experiencing and preparing to experience. It mostly felt that no one truly understood what I was going through. It was like my worst fears had happened, and that even when I wasn’t alone in a room it somehow still felt like, I was truly alone.
Then I came to this retreat.

This weekend I found a ton of other women that understand. They have fought similar fights, they have cried the same tears. They understand the fear, the loss and the grief. They just get it. I laughed. I cried. I felt so many feelings, but not one single one of them, was ‘Alone’ or ‘Different,’ and that was the best thing I’ve experience in a long time. The feeling like even though I have cancer, and I have to have a transplant, and there are all these risks and crazy things going on, that in the midst of it I’m still this fun-loving woman who wants to live my best life and meet friends and have a glass of wine, and just feel joy. I felt so much of that today and I’m just oh so grateful for it.

Heading to bed happy tonight and am looking forward to a big day tomorrow! Excited to see everyone and Rock’ N’ Horse!!!

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