I remember coming home after my diagnosis and falling apart. I remember telling Trevor very specifically that I could not and would not be able to endure radiation and oral chemotherapy and then 6 months of chemotherapy infusions. I literally could not do it. I would not be able to endure it. I’d watched my Mom and others and there was no way I could do what they did. 100% no way.
I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. For days and days. On one hand I was afraid of dying and leaving my boys motherless before they were even teenagers and on the other hand I was afraid of living through what the next months were going to hold. I felt utterly hopeless.
The weeks between my diagnosis and meeting with my oncologist were brutal. Filled with unwise Google searches, crippling anxiety, massive trauma from my surgery, waking up every single morning with an indescribable panic attack, unable to leave my bed, feeling utterly abandoned by God and ultimately alone because of Covid quarantine. Every day I woke up it was the worst day of my life. I didn’t want to wake up because it hurt too much, being awake was too painful. To say those were the worst days of my life would not be an understatement.
Meeting with my oncologist was scary but once there was a plan in place it felt like I could breathe. Plans are important and critical to being able to move forward, having a treatment plan gave me something to grasp. The saying about not needing to know where you’re going but who is with you is great and all, until you actually really do need a plan and you do need to know where you’re going. So yadda yadda to that.
The thing is, it’s not like I had the option of opting out- I had to do this whether or not I thought I could. I did not choose this, I’m just doing what I have to do to live. I’m no superhero, strong person. You’d be doing the same thing if it were you.
I was sure I couldn’t do it and yet here I am with 4 more brutal rounds to go and I am feeling weary. I am beginning to talk with my doctor about life after these treatments and it’s daunting. It’s overwhelming and scary and the emotional toll that this has taken and will continue to take is something most people can’t grasp. Heck, I couldn’t until I was faced with it. I am looking at the calendar beginning to plan my life for “after” but realizing I will never be the same. After is not the same as before. Covid itself has changed that for everyone- but I’ve literally been walking through two crisis at the same exact time starting literally weeks apart from one another and my life is forever altered and I am not the same person I was before cancer. In many ways I don’t recognize myself in pictures. Sure my hair is drastically different, but there’s more there. I wonder if some parts of me will return or if all of me has changed. I wonder about my future and my calling and my purpose and whether or not any of that has changed.
I’m assuming at some point I will look back and feel something other than what I’m feeling now. I will be able to see the ways God worked and how things happened that couldn’t have otherwise happened. I will count many things as gifts and find gratitude whereas right now I just write them down as a habit, someday they will feel real.
Maybe it’s a bit like foster care. I couldn’t see any good for a long time and it felt like it was not worth what our family went through (although we dearly loved our girl, it’s the system I’m referring to). Even now I’m not sure 100% of the time how I feel, those wounds are still tender, but I can say *she*[ was worth it and that whatever we did for her and however we loved her made a difference. Maybe with some distance I can say the same for cancer but right now I’m weary of the journey. My bones literally ache (thank you Neulasta) and so does my soul.
This season will end and a new one will come but cancer will always be a part of my life and reconciling that isn’t easy for anyone I don’t think, let alone a 37 year old Mom of three young kids.
I did not feel in a fighting mood until I chopped off my hair and had the side of my head shaved. That moment gave me the fire I needed to face what lie ahead. Funny how something so seemingly simple can make an impact. Maybe I need another change to get me through this next part, some more fire to keep the flame burning.