Monday, April 27, 2015
The fact that after today I only have one more treatment is very exciting but also scary. The realization I am returning to real life is a bit daunting. I'm glad to be getting through but at the same time I have been at home since August and cancer has changed me in many ways. Will I be able to keep up with life situations the way I did before? (And sometimes I didn't handle life the way I wanted so will it be even harder now...with physical limitations and chemo fog?) We shall see... And of course there is always the possibility of cancer returning hanging over your head but I'm hoping with time that fades some. I want a fresh start...a new and better life...we shall see...
Then one of my friends who I have chemo with was told today that treatments were not working and she should consider hospice. The doctor told her she needed to think about quality of life since she struggles to come in but is receiving no benefit from the chemo. She and her granddaughter were crying and I just wanted to hold them in my arms and take care of them. Make everything better. I know it is impossible for me to do but its what I wanted. So I said the few words of comfort I could and hid my own tears because it is what seemed best at the moment. Watching their pain was excruciating. But it is all part of the cancer nightmare.
Later that afternoon I met a woman who has been cancer-free for seven years. She beat the odds with a cancer that often comes back quickly and with a vengeance. It gave me hope! Talking with her lifted my spirits from the emotional morning and as I left the infusion lab I felt new strength. This could be me...I could beat the odds too.
As we were leaving, a woman approached me. I met her at my very first chemo treatment last September. She was back because her cancer had returned again. She had almost two years cancer-free but it returned. She had more chemo and went back into remission but it only lasted three months and she is back for her third round of chemo. I felt my hope fading and my heart went out to her and the fear she was feeling. She acted very positive it would just be 'maintenance chemo' and she would go back into remission. I hope that is true for her and will support her in this effort any way I can.
So after bouncing up and down all day I finally arrived at home for a long nap. Or actually several short ones. I feel good (steroids) and am ready to keep battling. I discussed all this with my amazing sister and she kindly reminded me that life is a crap shoot, even if you don't have cancer. We just don't know what will happen from moment to moment so we take each day at at time and try to have hope and strength and appreciation. Yep that's what we try to do.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
The softness of the day filtered through the shabby screen
bathing the two of them in a weak and desolate light.
The window flew open and hundreds of doves were startled
scattering into the dark gray sky.
The beating of the wings pounded in her ears
As the birds rose higher, they disappeared from view
The quiet they left spread like fingers around her heart
She wanted the birds to come back, surround her pain
With their gentle sounds and proximity.
She needed everything close, within reach, to hold both
Of them in the sway of life.
It was all too fragile, all too delicate.
Something substantial would save them from
The tenderness of the moment that provided
Injury and healing all at once.
Posted by Rhonda Boocock at 4:34 PM
Sunday, April 19, 2015
(This blog post is based on a writing assignment from an online writing course I am taking...otherwise I wouldn't go over all this again.)
What feelings have I felt since being diagnosed with cancer? I remember the day so vividly, though sometimes I wish it wasn’t so vivid. I kept getting a phone call throughout the day from a number I didn’t recognize so I ignored it. After school Paul and I were going to have a photo matted and that same number called for the fourth time so I decided to answer it. It was the oncologist and he asked me if it was a good time to talk. I was driving down the interstate at 70 mph but I assumed it would be a quick call and I told him it was fine. Because even though he was calling about a biopsy I had a week earlier, I knew (felt, assumed, guessed, deduced, predicted) that the biopsy would be negative and the endometriosis he found would not be a big deal to resolve. Of course, we all know by now, I was wrong and he told me it was cancer, a very serious cancer involving surgery and chemotherapy. He apologized for having to give me this news over the phone but he wanted to schedule the surgery quickly and didn’t have time for me to make an appointment to talk in person. But said I could call anytime to discuss my questions. I thanked him and hung up. A few minutes later I called him back to ask him what kind of cancer I had…I thought it important to have that information.
What I felt first is what most people feel and that is disbelief. No, this can’t be happening to me. I have spent some time caring for my sister when she had breast cancer, for my mother, who at that time was dying from ovarian cancer and for my father through a myriad of diseases and conditions. The similarity between my cancer and my mother’s was uncanny, I just couldn’t believe it would happen to me at all, the caretaker, much less now when my mother was preparing for her life to end from cancer. I had a hysterectomy the year before to remove parts that might become cancerous later on in life due to family history. So much for that strategy!
After disbelief came the usual emotional devastation when you realize it is real and you have to believe it. I felt great sadness, anger and disappointment. I felt I wanted to not treat it at all and go ahead and give up on life. I didn't feel like I could go through it all. I felt weak and helpless. There were tears and gnashing of teeth. Then there was numbness. I think you have to go into the numb stage to protect your brain and heart from overload.
The next few months were a mixture of sadness, self-pity and numbness. My mother died a few days after my first chemo treatment. I felt grief that she was gone and relief that she was spared more suffering. There was so much going on physically that I feel like I never had time to adequately process what was happening to me emotionally. But finally some emotions I did not expect showed up…and they were fear and anxiety. Yes I know its normal to feel these when going through surgery and chemo but the extent to which I felt them surprised me. I became afraid and nervous about EVERYTHING, even the things that were not cancer related. If Paul went out I knew he would have a car accident and never return. If I heard a noise at night it was someone breaking in to kill us in our sleep. I began reading the news and saw how scary our world is. I started studying food choices and realized we are probably all getting poisoned slowly but surely. Any ache or pain or twinge meant the cancer was growing. Any abnormality in my body meant I was getting an infection again. I realized that once you know you are not invincible then anything bad can happen…and probably would. I hated being afraid of everything.
Now that there some is distance from that day my feelings are less erratic and often mixed with happy emotions. My sense of humour has improved and I can make jokes, though my family may wish I still didn’t. I plan for the future now and buy new things, which I stopped doing for awhile because I was sure I was going to die at any moment. I feel grateful. People really are good and have done so much to help that I feel great appreciation. I feel more compassion for those going through hard times. I am not sure whether it is time that has helped or if I’m really learning something. I still feel fear. I still feel sorry for myself sometimes. I still get angry at times that this is happening to me. All normal I think. But most of all I know I am responsible for my reactions to all the emotions I feel. And so we move on from this day of discovery to whatever is next.
Posted by Rhonda Boocock at 3:55 PM