Since my love’s illness, in addition to undiminished enthusiasm, I also sometimes have to deal with gloomy thoughts. My own illness has unfortunately aggravated it. For the sake of convenience, I describe those thoughts in this blog as if they were the words of a monkey sitting on my shoulder. The monkey comments on everything that happens and only I can hear it. Fortunately, because it is not pleasant. I deliberately don’t say monkey’s words out loud.

That monkey has studied the statistics of ‘Triple Negative Breast Cancer – with some metastases’. When I want to buy something expensive monkey says: “Would you do that? Most patients like you die within three years of diagnosis, a large part already the first year and how much use is this thing if you are sick in bed. Isn’t that a shame?” If I put papers in a folder: “Shouldn’t you make an instruction with that, so that your next of kin know what to do with them?”. Or if I want to book a holiday because I want to get out of the malaise for a while: “Up to and including the summer months you will probably be nauseous and weak due to the next chemotherapy. The next summer vacation will probably be sick again due to new metastases. Can you also cancel this holiday home? And how should your fellow travelers do that, if you are already dead?”. For this monkey, the glass is always half empty.

Of course I tried to get rid of monkey. I’ve sent it away, slapped it away, ignored and reprimanded it, but it all turns out to be counterproductive. It only makes Monkey more annoying and angrily wagging his tail. I also entered the discussion with good arguments. Explained that maybe I belong to that small group that will survive. I couldn’t convince monkey. Because monkey is nothing but my own, logical fear and you can’t get rid of that so easily. I then tried to take monkey into account and made an effort to prepare everything for relatives as best as possible – in order to hopefully be able to switch back to fun things when I’m done with the preparations. But it was a lot of work and because of that my glass kept getting emptier….

Fortunately, I have found a good solution: I call it ‘listening and dosing’. When the monkey sets off again, I answer: “I hear you, but I’m not going to do anything with that for a while, because now I’m focusing on activities that give me energy. But check my calendar: there is a moment booked soon in which you can expand your point again. Then I decide what I’m going to do with your point.” I have found two lovely people willing to always make sure that there is always an appointment in my agenda with one of them within one or two weeks. A contact moment in which they listen to me and my monkey. They don’t have to come up with a solution, just listen, even to those negative words (and, if desired, I to theirs). So that monkey can speak and those words don’t stick around. That works. Sometimes that comfort is enough and I don’t even have to do anything with it after that.

Knowing that the next redeeming moment is already planned, monkey rolls up his tail, settles on a comfortable spot on my shoulder and falls asleep relieved and exhausted.