My Aurgument with Cancer's Inner Demons!What can I say? The last 15 months have been a blur. I can't lie, it has been a long hard road. One that is still being trod. One that will more than likely be beneath my feet for the rest of my life. A much longer road than I thought it would be or ever expected it to turn into. I live each day wishing it was the last day I had to wake up knowing "cancer" was apart of my existence. And I know that there are days, all of us wish we didn't have to think about it, hear about it or read about it. But it is my reality and for all of those that have made the choice to walk this road with me, I cannot even begin to express the depths of my love, gratitude and the bond that we are forging together. Those who have trod this path, no matter the course and type of cancer, know exactly what I mean. I admire your strength in the midst of your battle and I look up to you for your courage and tenacity for life in the midst of the odds against you. I thank you for being the example to me!
I am struggling right now. I feel in-between hope and loss. I know I shouldn't complain, but my body is so weak right now and I am just really struggling to keep coming up for air. All I want to do is stay in bed and sleep. My body is so drained and my stomach is still on the edge. I want to eat, but then when I do, my stomach is not happy with me. This hysterectomy has really beaten me up and shoved me down. My body was just not ready for this major undertaking just yet I suppose. Don't fret, I will get back up again, but for the moment I have had my feet completely taken out from under me. I really NEED this wound to heal and stop oozing. That alone would make me feel so much better. My blood sugars are not too high, but they are somewhat elevated. So I know this infection is not under control yet. And I am working on my third bottle of pain killers. I hate that! I am not one to generally finish one bottle,and here I am starting on bottle number three! I want to be well, and on the go again right now. But I can't, my body won't let me. Soon, hopefully really soon though I hope.
Recovery and healing, they go hand and hand, physically, mentally and emotionally. Often as you travel this road your body buckles and many more times it soars. Three steps forward for every five steps backwards. No, you may not be traveling very far or too quickly for that matter, and honestly you may feel as if you are in S-L-O-W--M-O-T-I-O-N, but all the same you are in motion and that is a very good thing, right? I have to say honestly that for me life has just been very trying this year. Character building at times and maybe at other times a bit more on the demolition side of things in regard to personal growth and traits. I believe that I have grown as a person, as a woman, as mother, as wife, as sister and hopefully as a friend. So I hope that as I am pruned through this process, I do not bring ya'll down to the depths with me when I have those hard days. This fight is just grueling, and I have those days when I am simply tired from all the uncertainty. There are times I feel it all around me, closing in from all sides. Not only have I been fighting my own personal cancer beast, but I have seen two other precious lives go on before me, and I fear for several others holding on by threads in the wings. I see it all around me and yes, there are times, it scares me. After, coming so close to death 17 days ago, I feel as if the Reaper is out in full force, working overtime. Ever feel just on the edge of something? On the edge of a battle that you cannot avoid, just waiting for it to begin? It's a helpless feeling, that turns your stomach, causes your heart to race and your head to pound. That's how I feel right now. Kinda how I felt in between the time I found my lump and had the breast biopsy done. Just kinda waiting for the world to fall. I just really hate cancer!
Over the last 15 months there have been many times that I have just wanted to throw in the towel and lay in bed and not get up to face the world around me. But you can't do that, and you realize that there are so many others depending upon you to get up, fight, and not roll around in your own misery. So you get up. No matter the pain, no matter the reason for your discomfort and you move forward. Even when you are scolded for not making better progress or not being upbeat enough. There are those moments when you think to yourself, "Pardon me for not smiling as I dance the Tango with death, would you like to step in for me, I could use the break?"
I have to tell you chemo is a horrible monster. It's this ugly poison, meant to save your life being shot into your body to attack and shut down the cancer that is biding for your mere existence. It is intended to kill. And it does kill! It goes after every part of you, not necessarily just the cancer. It strips away everything physically that makes you, well you! You are just sort of along for the ride. Part of the mad scientists experiment. You eventually stop worrying about what your nails look like, or trying to make yourself look human anymore. You just accept the fact that you have become Frankenstein! All the while it is slowly killing so many parts of you. Everyday it surges through your body, it takes a part of your life, apart of who you were, and reshapes your life into something else. A life you have no control over, a life that you would have never chosen.
Cancer is such a horrible word. It cuts you so deep that all goes numb inside of you and then as a cruel twist, the pain comes searing right through you like a hot blade! It cuts deep into all you ever were and thought you would be. This thing, the "it," they call breast cancer is a beast. A beast with long stretching tentacles reaching out, wrapping itself not only around your life, but the lives of everyone else within close proximity of your world. There are times the beast gets a death grip, a strangling hold on you, and then there are other times when you feel confident as if you and those warriors you call family and friends are battling right beside you, keeping the beast at bay, throwing every rock, stabbing it with pitchforks, hitting it right between the eyes by any means necessary and simply whipping "it's" butt.
This beast takes hold and strips you of all your femininity and grace. Everything that made you feel like a woman and all that made you whole is gone. First goes the breast. You now have a huge scar across your chest. What once was a breast, what once gave your children life is empty, void of anything beautiful, anything yours. It is now a lump, just skin, sitting there lifeless. Even with cosmetic surgery the scar will always be there. Like a stretch mark long after you have had a baby, except this scar is not a reminder of life, but of death. They cut away what once made you whole and threw it away like trash. They took everything, every part of it, down to the chest lining. The mussels that once enabled you to open a door are gone. You no longer have the strength to move things around because they are gone and will never return. Then they place a port in the remaining breast, and suddenly you have this new thing sticking out of you, and a nice new scar that is forever a reminder of the chemo. Then the chemo starts. At first you think, I can do this. It's not as bad as I have heard. Then the poison kicks in and you feel as if death itself has taken control of your body. Every part of your body hurts, just to touch it. You can't eat, you can't sleep, you can't move. Yet somehow you do. The emotional pain is enough to make your body hurt, but then you have the physical pain of the chemo and you just want to go to sleep and not move.
Once the chemo has started to make it's way through your body, you feel the mental, emotional and physical pain of loosing your hair all over your body. It feels as if someone has poured acid all over your scalp, as if someone has taken an ax to your scalp and removed it without pain killers! So then you steady yourself for the next 9-12 months of having to live without hair. You prepare yourself for the wigs, then you move onto scarves and finally to bandanas. You actually get excited when Walmart has new bandanas in stock! You decided it's not so bad not having to shave, and then you loose your eyebrows and eyelashes. Suddenly you are violated all over again by the poison! You suddenly feel venerable all over again. You look into the mirror and you have no face, no expression. Your face has swollen beyond recognition and your eyes disappear into this new you. Of course everyone tells you how good you look, but deep inside you know the monster that you have become. People treat you different. To some, you are the creature from the black lagoon or worse. People can pity you, they can ignore you or they can really enable you to survive the beasts grip by walking beside you. You see the stares, the looks. You see the pain in your children's eyes, the hurt spelled out all over their faces and you are helpless to do anything about it. It is devastating.
So you keep reminding yourself that you are still among the living and that is far more important than your physical features. You realize that your husband still loves and desires you. That he sees the real you, the you that he fell in love with 11 years ago. That seems to help you get up and smile at him every morning. Yet you long to be whole. To look beautiful for him, to shine again, and not to feel so useless. Cancer is a lifelong struggle. It does not just affect you, it affects everyone around you. It affects family relationships, friendships you thought would never waver. Even when you are better, you are always fighting the beast. It is your beast now. It can be tamed on some days, but it is still wild and unpredictable and can attack at any given moment.
I appreciate each of you more than I can ever express. I am grateful for the kindness I have been shown and for the beauty I have been given here in J-Land, in each post and in each of you. I have been taught many lessons this year from taking life a day at a time, to standing up for myself. Just know that no matter what the future holds, I hold each of you all close to my heart.
Living Life One day at a Time with Love, Hope, Laughter and Humor