I’m learning that this whole cancer experience, much like life, is just a cycle of ebbing and flowing. Any expression of what I am feeling or thinking, at any given moment, is just fine. And I need to stop thinking that I’ve finally mastered my emotions…there will be good days and there will be bad days and I have to figure out how to love myself through all of them. I’m not suddenly cured of fear, or cancer, but I can make a bit more eye contact with it now than I could a few weeks ago. And today was the first day I have not cried in about 4 days, so I am calling that a win. Also I will never be the master of anything.
It’s so easy to let this cancer thing take hold of your very existence, and there is nothing healthy about that. It mutes every relationship in your whole life because, somehow, your CANCER is the only topic that anyone can talk about. That is about as healthy as me going on disability before I even knew what the fuck was going on; it’s a helplessness that strips away everything you thought you knew about yourself, and before you know it you’re a self described pitiful piece of shit. And you cannot stop crying no matter what. And I know that’s only the beginning of figuring this shit out.
The silver lining is that you have no place to go from here but up. And up I will go. Or die trying.
I know there are five stages of grief. I know that you can vacillate between them. I guess I’ve never faced or felt them head on. So this is me, right now, just trying to find peace among it all. I don’t want to feel scared and I don’t want to feel pitiful. I just want this whole thing to feel like any normal other day. The struggle is real.
That has been my past few weeks. Dying inside because I assumed I was already dead. Angry at myself for not doing whatever it is, when you find out you have cancer, that is the exact opposite of what my saboteurs would tell me to do. Dead and lifeless to everything surrounding me. Tears I could not stop; reasons I could not figure out; empathy I didn’t know how to offer myself; self hatred that is abusive.
Depths of depression I have never experienced.
I’ve been thinking a lot, trying to understand why I feel the way I do. I’m working on coming out on the other side of it; I want to live with that version of me that I both recognize and love. I’m trying to excavate that woman I have known all my life from the depths of self hatred. I am working really hard at offering her kindness and an open heart. She is so worthy of my love.
It’s completely normal and expected to have fears about cancer. It’s quintessentially human to be excruciatingly human. I don’t have to hate myself because I don’t have this whole thing figured out. I don’t have to judge myself because I don’t have this whole thing under control. These are the words of kindness I would speak to anyone else in my situation. There are so many reasons to feel sad, mad, hopeless, helpless; downright fucking just fucked up in the head. Hate has no place in any of those spaces. Life happens how it happens, and whatever the other side of this presents me, I wanna place bets on myself that I will handle it with the best grace I can muster.
It is scary as fuck, this whole cancer thing. It claws at you from the outside while simultaneously eating away at your insides. The period of time from the initial diagnosis to when you know some facts that you can actually work with, the plan options, and exact scheduled date for said plan to step into action seem like eternity. And you seriously lose your mind.
In reality it has been six weeks since I had a radiologist tell me, on the spot, that she was pretty damn sure (minus the swear word) I had breast cancer. I think I entered an alternate universe in that moment she told me that I had four masses, and that all four of them screamed cancer. In addition to my own intuition, there were immediate signals given at that appointment (that I doubt they knew they were giving off) from the radiology techs that highlighted my filled in my blanks before the radiologist stepped in to factually fill in the blanks.
While driving to the appointment that was to “take a second look”, and I think maybe 24 hours prior to said appointment, I had already intuited that this time it wasn’t a false alarm…that it wasn’t the “dense breasts” routine…this time was the real shit.
In this age of technology, we all have access to patient portals if we choose to join them, and technology can be both our friend and enemy. I made the mistake of googling every fucking word I could find on my initial mammography report that somehow got uploaded to my patient portal before I got an actual phone call to schedule a second look. I wasn’t scared, but I had intuitions that I couldn’t explain.
Those intuitions though, I did not share with a soul. I don’t think I even shared them with myself…I was either too scared or too blocked by the walls I have built around myself to confront them. I deflected anything that felt uncomfortable. I buried my intuitions beneath other things that were happening in life around me.
Fast forward to the follow up appointment. I had zero fears when Mike insisted he accompany me to that appointment. Honestly, I thought he was being over protective. I had zero fears when life’s circumstances took him on another journey and he ended up not being able to go with me. It was only in those 30 minutes driving there alone that I was scared to a point that I didn’t want to feel. And I knew within the first 15 minutes I was there that I was scared as fuck. And then I decided I had this shit nailed. Whatever this was going to be, I was going to be a badass warrior and face this shit just as I had faced any other adversity in my life.
And then I became a fucking wreck for a bit.
Sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know shit about what we are trying to be or say, and sometimes we think we know what we have no clue about our prattling on, and then, in those precious of moments of what I think life is all about, we finally realize that what we could never presume to know the unexplainable wisdom that is so far beyond our everyday simplicity.
The journey carries on. It is going to be what it is whether or not you waste time fretting about it.
I am choosing happiness and gratitude for too many people and reasons to list.