Hi. Been a while. I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to get out of myself. I don’t think I really am all the way out of myself yet either.
I would love to say that I have been doing fabulous things, and some things have really been fantastic. But, the one thing every person that has ever had cancer (so, that could be slightly exaggerated), they say “Don’t let cancer change you”. In the beginning you so totally believe that it won’t. But it does. Some people change for the better, some people not so much. There are people who have become pillars of communities, they have made strides. That is something to be proud of. Jim and I raised over $2000 with out Night with the Breast of Intentions, that is something to be proud of.
But there is a dark side. This is my experience:
1. Cancer totally fucks with your self-esteem. I never had a high opinion of my physical self to begin with, but now that my chest looks like Dr. Frankenstein has had his way with me…I do not blame anyone for cringing or just plain old not looking. There are people with the absolute best of intentions that are trying to help you that wince. You know the wince is reactionary, and by no means cruel, but each wince each “OMG!” is like the slow drag of an industrial size file. Each pass back and forth removes a tiny layer of how well you think you are bouncing back.
2. A cold is not a cold, a yeast infection is an ordeal, a fever is nothing to be ignored. You can never just “have a cold” – it requires chest x-rays and fluids. Stomach pain – FUGGEDABOUTIT, that is MRI or CT and fussing and poking. In turn everything else in your life falls to someone else. Someone else is always pulling your weight, which brings back the slow drag of an industrial file, taking more layers. You can only say you are sorry so many times until is becomes hollow.
3. You never feel “right”. In my experience, they are certain levels of shitty that are my daily experience. You could liken it to a Defcon scale:
Defcon 5: You are eating and keeping it in, always a plus!
Defcon 4: You are keeping some things in, but you have a dull ache literally anywhere, at anytime.
Defcon 3: Anything could happen. You could be poopy pants, or headache girl, or BIPOLAR RAGE MACHINE to people who have done nothing. If you try, VERY VERY hard, you can keep it in check.
Defcon 2: People are ready to call the CDC on your ass.
Defcon 1: People DO call the CDC.
There are some days that I stay at one Defcon, there are some days I experience all Defcons. This also brings that slow, dubious drag of the industrial file, turning layers to dust.
4. As much as people say it will never change relationships, it does. You really do find out who your true friends are, every bond you have is tested. A few are tested to the breaking point. You say things you don’t mean, you do things you usually wouldn’t. Which brings back the slow, dull drag of the file, sloughing away a teeny bit more.
5. You spend obscene amounts of time at one of your many doctors. Copays, waiting, stares from people because I am usually the youngest in the joint by 20 years. So many times, well-intentioned grandma and grandpa ask which elderly relation I am waiting for. When I tell them I am the patient, they almost recoil in horror. That brings…..you guessed correctly, that damn file.
I could go on, but this has turned into horribly depressing post.
Let’s end this on a high note.
One of my nieces, we shall call her Bean, has achieved so many fantastic things in her life. She has a Master’s degree, obtained while having 3 small children and no, I mean virtually none, I mean some help from Mr. Bean (not the famous one). Until recently, she worked on average, 85 hours a week, with the help explained above.
Somehow, she wrote a book. It’s in the YA fantasy realm. She has talked for years about writing a book. Well my friends, she has finished it. Bean sent me an electric copy, and just sat for a bit. Me being so blasé, and wrapped up in myself and all.
WHAAAAAAAAAT? A first line dedication. I could tell you I just cried a little, but I bawled like a baby. I am so proud of my niece, and honored that she would dedicate me. I love you my baby Bean. May this be a start to a new path.
Love and light,