I'm finding this bouncing back from cancer thing a lot harder than I thought it would be. Remember back in July, I was all optimistic and bright eyed about how this was just another inconvenience along life's journey? This was just going to be unpleasant and expensive and then I would bounce right back, no worse for the wear? My glass was half full, and by gosh, I was going to enjoy every last drop of it!
Now? Not so much.
Welcome to the stage tonight, if you will, Dark & Twisty Lady Steele.
Some strange phenomenon happens when you are diagnosed with cancer, even the "not bad" kind. Suddenly, all you think about is cancer. Is it going to kill me? Will I lose my hair and throw up for the first time in 22 years? (I'm really not making that up, but that's another blog). Will I leave my poor sweet child an orphan and her father a widower at 36? Will he remarry a woman that's able to keep up with the laundry? Will my mother and my sister and my brother lose someone else they love to this dreaded disease? Will I get fired? How will we pay for this? Will I lose my boobs and have to wear a part of my butt in my bra for the rest of my life?
What sucked most for me was the time between the "hey you've got cancer" talk and the "ok, now we at least know it's not likely to kill you" talk. I don't know why it is ok to think that waiting a couple weeks to get an answer about how bad this really might be is acceptable. But for some reason, it is. And so, you wait.
I've survived the lumpectomies, both of them. I have a scar and some soreness still, which seems odd to me since my last surgery was four months ago. I made it through radiation, all six and a half weeks of it. I have a fistful of vicodin from the surgeries that I'm saving for a special occasion.
On the surface, I ought to be good to go. But now every little mole, every headache, muscle twitch, or tummy ache sends me to the computer in search of what might be slowly killing me now.
I had the strangest thing happen about a month ago. I won't burden you with the details, but if you'd like to read more about a REALLY fun affliction, click here: Trigeminal Neuralgia. The short version is that I was knocked upside the head with this horrid pain that stung quickly, struck hard, and stuck around anywhere from seconds to hours. Was I optimistic and bright eyed when this thing struck? Hellll no. I was convinced that my non-metatastic (a fancy word that means "doesn't spread") breast cancer had spread to my brain, where a giant tumor was slowly taking my life. Turns out, not so much. A trip to a couple of new docs, some really great medicine, and bing, bang, boom. I'm cured. But it was scary.
MrG and I have been battling some type of upper respiratory thing. Coughing. Snot. Lots of both. He's been sick for more than a month, and I've had it for a couple of weeks. Is it the swine flu, I wonder? Bubonic Plague? Pleurisy? Tuberculosis? Not so much. Turns out it's simply seasonal allergies and a compromised immune system.
My friends look at me differently now. The previously casual "hi, how are you" has now turned into "how are you, really? Are you ok? Do you need anything?" I have a friend (shout out to you, Shelly) who walked for 3 days with my name emblazoned on her pack. My dear sweet friends at work wrote checks to the Komen during a month when no one should have been asking them for anything. Well earned praise at work due to a decidely kick-ass sales year is now tempered with, "and you've done it with all of the challenges you've faced."
The old me has been replaced by the Me 2.0, Cancer Upgrade Pack.
The point is, Cancer has defined my life since June of this year, and I'm having a terribly tough time shaking it.
Some really good things have come of it - our company will now be making screening mammograms available EVERY YEAR for our women, not just every other year. And that is due in part to my story. I have friends who are getting their first mammograms because of me, and they are sharing my story with their friends. I know to the center of my soul that my fight will help another woman win a fight. Somewhere, somehow, I know this. I've raised money, my friends have raised money, and together we have raised awareness. So it's not all bad.
I'm really ready, though, to shake out from under this black cloud that has hovered around me. My inner writer is with me again - she's talking to me in the car and at night as I try to unwind for a night of restless sleep. I'm finding myself amused by every day stuff and making little notes that I promise myself I will act upon. Days later when I find the note, it seems beyond my scope of comprehension that at any one time those little scribbles made enough sense to me to convince me that I could indeed write about them.
I must admit I feel a certain amount of pressure to be witty and interesting here, and I suspect that my blog niggling at me is just one more thing that my overtaxed brain has to work through. But we're getting there. Like I tell LittleG, "we're not there yet angel, but we're getting closer."
Hang in there, dear reader, because I am on the upswing. I'm headed into Holiday Hysteria, which commences next week with LittleG's sixth birthday. I've already considered my holiday baking, which is good, but I don't think there is a way in the world I can pull off the 12 Days of Christmas this year.
I might surprise us all, though, so keep those cards and letters coming. And cross your fingers that I bounce up more often than down. I'll get there, friends. Ever forward.