At the risk of sounding like an emo 15 year old girl, I’m putting this out there today. Pretty sure I deserve at least a day of feeling sorry for myself, and the morning of chemo sounds like a pretty good day to do it.
The title comes from one of my very favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs. If you want to go listen, I will wait.
Good, right? Most of you know I am fairly significantly introverted. Unlike the song, I DO love many people, and wouldn’t say that “it’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain”. However, when times are crappy (as I’m pretty sure now qualifies as), my most natural inclination is to retreat into myself. I don’t want to be like this. It’s part of why I put this blog out there. It’s a way to force myself to let people in, without having to actually put in the face time to do it over and over again, because lord knows I don’t have the energy for that these days.
One of the big taglines for breast cancer is “nobody fights alone”. I get the sentiment behind that, and I could not feel more support from everyone in my life right now. I hate the whole thinking of “cancer can be a gift”. I get where people come from with that, too. There have been things that have happened since this diagnosis that have made me feel love from so, so many people. Even complete strangers. And that part is a gift. However….if I’m being honest, it’s a gift I would return in order to NOT have cancer. As far as not fighting alone, I have a million people (slight exaggeration) I can call on to help me/us when needed, to love me, to be there for us. But in the end, cancer feels very lonely. Nobody can do it for me. They aren’t getting medicine that is poisoning their entire body, or having body parts removed, or getting radiation that is frying their skin. They aren’t imagining their family carrying on without them in it. I know this is dramatic to say, given my semi-early staging (which I am so, SO grateful for). But I have also learned enough about this, unfortunately, to know that I’m given no guarantees. There is never going to be a day where I am told, “It’s gone, and with 100% certainty, never coming back”. There are many, many women who have beaten cancer and lived to be very old women, dying from something that has nothing to do with this beast. But there are also women, women just like me, who have been told they have won….and then find out 6 months, or 3 years, or 10 years down the road….I’m so sorry, cells have escaped, and you are now incurable. I have so many steps ahead of me to even get to a point where I’m past active treatment, that I cannot allow myself to focus on that too much yet. It’s definitely something I never understood about cancer survivors prior to getting it myself…..that it isn’t really ever over. Not saying that these women, these survivors, are not able to be happy. They are, and I will be, too. I do know that. It’s just one of those experiences that forever colors your life going forward, and at this moment, I don’t know how to deal with that.
I know that I should feel lucky to have such wonderful support in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better husband and partner to go through all of this with me. And I know, that in so many real ways, my pain IS his pain, and I truly hate that. I hate that my happy go lucky 5 year old son has to even know what cancer is at his age. I hate that I will have to miss out on days or even hours of his life by being sick or recovering in bed. When that happens, and I hear him playing with Sean without me, it feels like I’m glimpsing a future that might be. So instead, what I do, is withdraw. It’s hard for me to reach out, to call people back, to set up times to get together and talk about this boogeyman. It makes zero sense to feel devastated at the thought of missing out on time with the people I love, but instead squander the time I have right this second, but it’s hard to put it all aside in my mind and play with my son like he deserves. Or talk to my husband and tell him the things in my head. Or call my best friend and let her be there for me to talk me down. But it’s hard right now. Everything is so hard right now. All I can manage is an endless search for answers that I can’t be given. No amount of information about this disease, or the treatment, or the outcomes will tell me what IS going to happen to ME. It can’t. I need to walk away from that, and trust in….well, if I said trust in God, that would be a lie right now. I have never felt further away from God than I do now. I wish that wasn’t that case. It would be of an extreme comfort if I could do that. But trust in….something…..that I will be ok. That my family will be ok. That life will go on. I promise, I’m working on that.