Saturday, June 11, 2011

Forgetting about cancer

If you've had cancer, you know how this goes. When you're first diagnosed, it's EPIC. You are all.about.cancer. 24/7, it rules your life. You are alternately devastated, scared, angry, manic and exhausted. It's with you all the time, everywhere you go. It's sitting on your shoulder or just behind your sunglasses, so that every interaction, everything you see is somehow colored by cancer. It's big. No, it's GIANT.

And then if you've survived cancer, you know how this goes, too. It gets smaller and smaller as the days, months and years pass. You go about your days, and hopefully celebrate milestones - the end of chemo! A declaration of "no evidence of disease!" 5 years! Etc. etc. (God willing). It always remains a part of who you are, but it's not defining you anymore.

So here I sit, back at stage one. I pulled the shitty Candyland card. Jerked back by the collar from almost never thinking about my own cancer on a daily basis to devastated/scared/angry/manic & exhausted. Yanked back from sometimes having to remind myself "hey, oh yeah, I had that, and boy, did it suck." I'm mired in suck. I'm in suck quicksand.

There are moments these days when I feel like I'm treading water, and if I don't kick fast enough, I'll be drowned by bad feelings. I have to give myself a little slap now and then: this is not metastatic disease. This doesn't even look like a big-deal second primary tumor. Buck up, wimp. Look on the bright side, you idiot. Don't wallow.

Last night, I was rolling in the wallow. Most of it had to do with the fact I got 4 hours of sleep the night before - I was out with my Brownie Troop on a camping overnight. Reading magazines, I saw ads for fun summery clothes and bathing suits, and instead of reveling in frills and fun, I was flummoxed. Will I have breasts to fill out those swimsuits? Will I be enjoying unscheduled time in the lazy, hazy days of summer, or shuttling my mama-mobile back and forth to MGH for daily radiation treatments? I need to get through this anger. The anger that the damn cancer's going to ruin what was supposed to be the "summer of fun." While intellectually I know I'll get to the post-cancer state-of-mind again, I'm so not there, yet. I'm deeply, deeply disappointed in my current reality.

Bright spot: This morning is better. Going to bed at 8:30 p.m. and sleeping well for 10 hours can give a girl much-needed perspective on things. But I have miles to go before I'm back to that luscious 9.5-years of survivorship mindset. I worked so hard for that. And I'll work for it this time, too. I'm just so damn tired of it all right now.



1 comment:

  1. That feeling of disappointment/unfairness was so pervasive for me. I really wanted to be DONE with cancer. I think that is why I chose such a drastic treatment approach for myself. Did not ever want to face a breast cancer diagnosis again.

    Acceptance is really, hard...I think I'm content now mostly because I know my risk of recurrence is so small but during treatment and recovery I was pretty miserable and bitter about it. To be honest, it took a little over a year to feel like myself again. It's really a "no-win" situation and you are really trying to choose the least bad option for yourself. And you're pissed because you are in this position for the second time and IT'S NOT FAIR!

    The only comfort I can offer is that it will get better but it will take time for that. For now just enjoy small moments.