A woman's face split in half. The left side she is smiling and on the right side she is sad

Cycling Through Moods is a Normal Thing to Do

Sometimes I’m grateful for all the things that I can do.

Sometimes I feel frustrated about being unable to do everything that I did before.

Sometimes up, sometimes down, then back up again. Grateful, frustrated. Frustrated, grateful.

Unpredictable moods after cancer

Grateful that I can turn over in bed instead of needing two nurses to move me.

Frustrated that my balance is not what it used to be, and that in yoga I topple over in tree pose.

Grateful that I can play two hours of tennis in a United States Tennis Association match. Frustrated that my rating dropped because I didn’t win enough matches at the level where I was playing.

Grateful that I can finish a 5K run. Frustrated that it isn’t easy, and that I used to run twice that much with less effort.

Moods change throughout the day

You could call it crazy, or you could call it human to cycle through moods multiple times a day.

Let’s go with human.

It’s not easy being under a cloud, but I tell myself that the best way to cope is to realize, as Annie sang, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

Corny but true, what can I say?

Aging amplified by the effects of cancer

The normal changes that come with aging are amplified if you’re dealing with the after-effects of cancer treatment.

In the case of a stem cell transplant recipient like myself, add the complications that come from having someone else’s cells in your body. These include graft vs. host disease (GVHD), which occurs when the donor’s cells view the recipient’s cells as foreign and attack them.

For me, GVHD of the gut led to three weeks of diarrhea. Thankfully, it was several years in the past, but the memory has not faded of having to run to various bathrooms on a trip with friends to New York. Currently, I’m being treated for GVHD of the skin, which deserves its own post. It started seven years post-transplant with hardening and lumpiness in parts of my skin.

It's normal to have see-saw emotions

The National Cancer Institute has this to say about see-sawing emotions: “Just as cancer affects your physical health, it can bring up a wide range of feelings you’re not used to dealing with. It can also make existing feelings seem more intense. They may change daily, hourly, or even minute to minute. This is true whether you’re currently in treatment, done with treatment, or a friend or family member. These feelings are all normal.”1

The sun WILL come out again

Sing along with me...

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun
Just thinkin' about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none
When I'm stuck a with day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh
The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow
I love ya tomorrow
You're always
A day
Away
When I'm stuck a with day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,…”2

Singing that song might just improve my mood

Singing might even improve your mood.

According to the Sing Up Foundation, “Singing lowers cortisol and relieves stress and tension. Studies have shown that when people sing, endorphins and oxytocin are released by the brain which in turn lowers stress and anxiety levels. Oxytocin (a natural hormone produced in the hypothalamus) also enhances feelings of trust and bonding which also explains the reports that singing also improves depression and feelings of loneliness." 3

Have you heard the one about singing in the rain?

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