I am good at seeing patterns in my behavior, better than I was in the past when my cancer experience was new. I think I am leaning into an anxiety and grief spiral. I have been very stressed about situations that are mostly out of my control. My pattern is (1) define a current or anticipated problem, (2) develop a plan, (3) put the plan in place, (4) fall into a pit of varying depth and circumference, and (5) cope like crazy until I regain my footing.

Right now I feel myself transitioning from step 3 to step 4. But meanwhile, I am dealing with another problem. Time I spent taking care of the highest priority problem meant that I got behind in my work. Now I am shuffling around to put a plan in place for that.

Additionally, I agreed to participate in a breast cancer charity function. The proceeds go to patient assistance fund at Swedish Cancer Institute, which provides very practical assistance like emergency rent money, meals, and transportation to and from medical appointments to breast cancer patients. This is a very worthwhile cause that makes a real difference in patients’ lives, not to mention the fact that I am very grateful for the treatment I have received at the institute. Last year, this event raised $120,000.

I do have mixed feelings about the event itself, which is a fashion show. You know how I love wearing pretty clothes but also have major misgivings about the fashion industry. I also suspect that I’m going to have to wear at least a little something pink at some time but based on last year’s video, I see that pink is present but not omnipresent. The models are all normal looking people. The women are all breast cancer patients. The men are friends and family. Everyone looked like they were having silly fun. And the fun was balanced out by speakers talking about the real negative impact of cancer on patients and their families.

The rational part of me thinks, “Why throw out the pink baby with the bathwater?”  The good outweighs the bad of participation. I have wanted to get involved in a small cancer related charity and this is a chance for me to see if this is an organization with which I would like to continue to develop a relationship. There are lots of things they do and a variety of events that are put on over the year.

Did I say, I was starting to spin? I spun at least a full revolution on my walk in the woods this morning. I’ve started having abandonment fears. I have been stressed and relying on my friends to give ear to my distress. This morning I was worried about being a burden and losing my friends because the sum of the negative parts of my life are really scary. I know this is irrational but I also know that my behavior can still be motivated by irrational fear even when I am aware of it. This is when I start flailing and apologizing to my friends. I try to solicit their support in an overly sparing manner.

And the fashion show? I was worried about that, too. I was afraid that I would lose some of you out there because you would believe that I was “pimping myself out” or that I have been pink washed. Then I thought, “I just won’t say anything about it.” I wouldn’t be able to get the word out about the event so that the charity would make more money and more patients would get real, every day assistance. How silly and counterproductive. In my efforts to reduce the attention to the aspect of participation that I don’t like or am unsure about, I would contribute less to the part to which I feel clearly committed. And the biggest flaw in my “avoid it” plan was the fact that the only person I need to convince about whether this is right for me or not is myself.

When I was a little girl, I used to spin in circles until I got dizzy and fell to the kitchen floor. I would get up and do it over again and again. I remember how the pattern on our linoleum floor used to bind together into a blur. It was mesmerizing and fun.

I don’t spin for fun any more. But I still know how to get up after I’m done.