Self-care is often understood as a general practice, one that is intuitive and involves basic, healthy habits like eating well, spending time in nature, and reading a bit each day. If one becomes ‘lazy’ with this type of self-care, goes a few weeks without exercising or has a weekend of decadent eating, it’s okay. Not the end of the world. But for many people, self-care is highly prescriptive, and there is little room for error or laziness. These are the people navigating sickness, disease, chronic pain, or illness, and they are reminded of it constantly because they have specific things they have to do in order to take care of themselves: take this pill every six hours, avoid this activity, see this doctor twice a month. And for these people, the stakes of their self-care are higher.
Throughout December and January, my mom, Chris, underwent treatment for a cancer diagnosis, consisting of simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy. In the context of this treatment, self-care involved the management of very specific things, including her weight, her diet, her medication, her energy and her various appointments. Though the treatment finished last week, the healing work is not over. Now is the time for emotional healing and processing that she didn’t necessarily do before, because the physical toll of treatment compromised much of her energy.
This audio diary follows my mom through bits of this experience, chronicling her self-care practice throughout treatment.