Sometimes I don’t want to be girlfriends…or do I?

Revlon

A funny thing happened on the way to stage IV. Back in 2011, when I was dealing with a fairly contained case of the breast cancer (minus, of course, infected lymph nodes and a larger than comfortable mass), I faced that challenge as if it were a limited period of time, after which cancer would be in my rear view mirror…permanently.

The Universe had other plans though and now I am chronic. I won’t say terminal although I think about it that way sometimes (Probably best to shift that mindset eventually).

When everything started, I resisted support groups – actually I went to a couple and never went back. I turned away opportunities to talk about what was going on…when I was bald, a woman came up to me at a Starbucks, and asked about treatment. Granted it was not the most appropriate way to approach a stranger but, looking back, she was probably trying to forge sisterhood with someone who understood.

In those days, talking about cancer with people who had cancer was not uplifting. Every time I connected with someone who was going through something similar, it felt like I was connecting with the disease. And, my God, I wanted to be normal.

Now I feel less normal or, at least, like I have to shift my concept of normal. I used to forget I had cancer for long stretches of time and now it’s most of what I think about. My guess is I’m still in shock. It’s been 6 months since I found out about the recurrence and I’ve been surfing the waves of grief for all that time, hitting everything from denial, anger, bargaining, depression…so now I’m ready for a little acceptance. The hope is that writing this blog will assist in that shift.

EverythingLeadsToThis already symbolizes a significant change from the first time around…I’m writing about cancer and my experience. I’m talking about this thing I didn’t want to talk about, which means I am now open to finding a sense of community. In fact, it’s something I’d like to find. And as much as I don’t want to want that, there it is.

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Irresponsible dummies

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I try not to focus on the past. Letting go of the doctors that misdiagnosed me – and there were a few – has been an important part of healing for me. From the OBGYN in 2005 who said I was too young to have Cancer to the Thermographer in 2011 who said that, based on her heat sensing test, my growth was benign. And that was about a week before I found a lump under my arm that turned out to be lymph node involvement.

Obviously I still harbor some resentment. It’s tough to feel let down by people you trust to look out for your best interest. When I reflect on my journey to this point, I ask myself why no one ever recommended a mammogram. Why would getting more information have been a bad thing? I already addressed in this earlier post that I was afraid of Western medicine and found people to support that fear. So some of the blame falls squarely on my shoulders.

But I’d like to move on from blame, towards doctors and towards myself. Constantly looking in the rear view mirror will only make me crash the car I’m trying to drive forward. Also anger and blame seem to generate more anger and blame rather than run its course. And I have enough new anger to not have to deal with the old stuff.

So I’m using this post as a package to the Universe. A way to hand over ill feelings to those that failed me and to myself. And as for the title of this post, it’s my way of staying true to the imperfection that makes me human.

I don’t want to write about Cancer

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I don’t want to write about Cancer. I’m afraid to over identify with it.

This is why it’s been 6 months since my last entry. Within the last 6 months, a lot has happened health wise. Mostly I have cancer in my bones, a spot in my liver, but the bulk of it is in the bone…I just had orthopedic surgery to prophylactically stabilize my hip, which was in danger of fracturing. Insert gratitude here…

Overall I feel angry. That is really hard to admit. It’s not the best of me. It’s not the hopeful cancer fighting woman people root for. You read obituaries about people who have succumbed to this and they “never let cancer get them.” There is always a line in there about how bright and hopeful they were. I imagine they had moments like the ones I’m experiencing too…the moments where you think about giving up. The moments where you question God or the Universe and wonder if there really is a plan. The moments where you struggle to find meaning amidst the physical pain and profound sadness.

The reason I am writing today, despite my lack of desire to do so, is that I am hoping this helps me process the anger so that I can enjoy whatever time I have left. The truth is I could have many years, even decades. But my feeling is that without some levity and without gratitude, my time will be foreshortened. And while I find myself wanting to give up, that’s not really what I want. So I’ll write about Cancer today because maybe it will make room for some hope for tomorrow.