Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Conflicting Emotions

I have just TWO more chemo treatments to go! I find myself getting increasingly emotional as I get closer to completing the chemotherapy phase of my care. And it’s for various reasons: I am happy this phase of the journey is nearing an end. I don't remember what it feels like to feel normal and healthy. Months of voluntarily dripping poison into my body has resulted in feeling crappy, tired, and "off" 24/7. And has resulted in thinning skin, a bloated body, low energy, no stamina, can't taste anything, and I'm unable to grasp stuff – pick things up - without looking since I can no longer feel my fingers. I'm exhausted mentally from rallying up the courage for each of the 16 rounds of chemo. We haven't traveled or made any plans with friends or family for the past 5 months because my mood and how I feel at any given moment - while generally shitty - can go from bad to worse in minutes. My immune system is virtually non-existent (god-forbid I get any where near a sneezing co-worker). I’m over being bald, too. Of not having nose hairs to keep out the pollen or to stop my nose from running when I eat. Over not having eye lashes to stop the flow of tears when they come. Over looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a cancer patient.

And I am sad: in a weird odd sort of way. I have become all too familiar with the routine of "active treatments". Of seeing the wonderful and caring oncology nurses who greet Liz and me by name and a smile when we arrive to the chemo room, share funny stories as they push the chemo drugs and or change my IV bags - anything to keep my mind off what's happening. I will miss them and my fellow cancer patients, hooked up to our individual IV poles, giving each other a comforting smile - you are not alone. Of feeling as if I'm doing something- anything - to rid my body of cancer. Me showing up every Thursday afternoon is me doing my little part. Once this little part is over - then what? I'm not a passive person by nature.

Well, I still have surgery to get through. I will have a double mastectomy at the end of July. And so now everything has shifted focus on getting me ready for that event. We are waiting on a date for surgery as two schedules for two very busy surgeons must match up – that takes time, or so I’m told. Thankfully – and not surprisingly - my heart has passed its test. As a precaution, I'll have a Doppler ultrasound of my legs next week to establish a baseline in case I experience any blood clotting issues (I don't anticipate any problems but I'm OK with being cautious given my weird history - think Everest Base Camp). Additionally, as a precaution, I will endure a couple of weeks of twice-daily injections of blood thinners post-surgery. And if - god-forbid - there's any remaining cancer, I will may have further surgery and radiation treatments before “SURVIVOR” can be added to my resume.

My life hereafter will involve screenings every three months for the first 3 or so years because my cancer is aggressive, and then maybe spread out to every 6 months for the remainder of my life. I will be forever tied to this horrible disease. And I will be forever changed by this horrible disease – mentally and physically. And, thus, I will be forever a champion of those who fight this disease, in awe of those who survive it, and grateful to those who take care of us.

1 comment:

  1. I can honestly say that reading your words, and knowing the human being you are... you have painted a picture of cancer and it's impact.

    I am in awe and amazement of your personal strength, your will to fight, your ability to be honest, your ability to say this fucking sucks, and at the same time still be able to put a smile on your face as well as those that come in contact with you.

    If you need a laugh give me a call 202-374-4523, I can always come up with some crazy dumb story or instance in my life (that probably would have just happened). I am here if you want to talk about the road ahead, the road you're traveling or just want to talk about anything other than cancer!