Can I get a whoop, whoop?
That’s post title is what has come to be known around our house as a “Mark Clark-ism.”
Tomorrow is my last day of chemo. WHOOP WHOOP!
I was pretty excited about it until about the last six hours. Then, I got incredibly tired and started feeling really bad. Now, a full-blown case of the “oh, no, I have chemo tomorrow”s have set in.
I keep trying to tell myself, “but it’s the LAST one.” It’s not helping. I still have a really awful 9 or 10 days ahead of me.
I participate in an online support group for young women with breast cancer. This week, there has been a discussion about “what does it mean when people tell us to ‘fight?'”
We are a perturbed bunch of women, that’s for sure – tell us we look great; tell us to stay positive; ask us about when we’ll be “cured” – we get pissy. We feel like crap, so there is no way we look great. Why do we need to be positive? It’s cancer, not a telethon hosted by Marie Osmond. And there isn’t a cure for breast cancer, so stop frickin’ asking.
So, the “fight” post got a lot of good responses. Tracy started it with this question, “I know that, personally, when I was first diagnosed, that when someone told me to fight, I was confused. What was I supposed to do? Punch my boob?”
She went on to make a point that I feel wholeheartedly.
“I went to chemo like a good little girl and chopped off my lovely bosoms. That wasn’t fighting though, that was consenting to treatment that gave me a better chance of living.”
I’m just following orders in this whole mess, not fighting. Tracy’s ultimate position was that she didn’t fight cancer, she murdered it.
Then my pal Wendy chimed in. Wendy had as many side effects from Taxol as I’m having.
“I think going back for chemo is the toughest thing any of us did/do. To me, surgery was fine (get the f*cker out of me, NOW), but going back to get more chemo, I mean, if we didn’t know it was supposed to make us live, we would think that it was a cruel means to death. Forget physically; emotionally it makes us some of the toughest women on the planet.”
That’s what I’m feeling right now. Like I would be crazy to go back to chemo tomorrow. It makes me very sick. It makes me feel like I’m going to die. I don’t mean in the way that running on a hot day makes you say, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to die.” I mean I actually wonder if it’s going to kill me because I can not imagine feeling worse than I do.
But I have to go.
So, I’m fighting right now. I have an epic battle going on in my head: I’m not going to freak out about this. I’m not going to be too negative and make it all worse. It’s one more time, then I hopefully will never have to do it again. I’ve been through seven. I can do one more. But I don’t want to. Not at all. I’m going to drag myself out of bed in the morning. And I’m going to drag myself there. And I’ll drag back home. And I’ll wait. I’ll wait for those ugly chemicals to attack my nervous system and cause me pain up and down my spine, in my joints, in my leg bones, even in my ribs. And when I feel that first twinge, I’ll start taking medicines that make me a zombie to keep those pains at bay.
I’m a reluctant warrior. My draft card was pulled. I was forced into this battle and weapons were shoved into my hands. Cancer is a gun slammed against my temple, so I am fighting back.
“Emotionally it makes us some of the toughest women on the planet,” Wendy said. She’s probably right. However, right now I feel like the most exhausted woman on the planet. I would much rather be the toughest woman, though, so I’m going to hang onto her words.
But I have a whole platoon with me.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in this “fight.” I have a whole platoon with me, watching my back. Tomorrow, Elaine will drive me to chemo. She’s been to half of my appointments with me! It’s actually a lot of fun to hang out with her, even though it is chemo.
I have loads of people who are sending me cards and emails on a really regular basis that lift my spirits. About every week, Christine, for one, sends me these great little square cards that are funky and have great quotes on them. Faye sends me funny videos. So does Lesley. I have gotten multiple cards from Cindy, Tracy, Libby, Lisa and so many more! And I have gotten so many great gifts – funny DVDs, funny books, great hats and scarves – that I’ve lost track. Probably one of the most important types of support we get is people who take care of Colleen (my mom, my sisters, Troy’s mom, Mark & Tanya, Raph & Deb, Marcia & Neil, Mary & Dan, I’m sure I’m missing a dozen more people). If it hadn’t been for Mark & Tanya, there have been several times when I would have missed doctor’s appointments or Colleen would have ended up sleeping at day care.
Also, Marcia & Neil often take Petey (the dog) for us, which is a lot more help than you would think. The meals, too, that people bring are just amazing. People have taken my “healthy” request to heart. Since thinking about or dealing with food has been a problem for me since the beginning of chemo, this has been major for us. Even when I feel good, I’m still having terrible decision-making problems, particularly when it comes to food. More often than not, I can’t think of anything to eat, so I don’t. When people bring food and Troy hands me something on a plate, I eat!
And the Rome thing … good golly, what can I say?
I will never be able to thank you all enough for all of this. I’m going to try, but I don’t know how we possibly can.
Most of the time, this blog has been really good for me. I’m always surprised when I tell someone something and they say, “I know. I read it on your blog.”
I forget you are out there.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m talking to myself. Honestly, through much of the drama of our lives in recent months, I started to feel like it would probably be better for your mental health if you stopped reading.
But you didn’t. Just a few statistics for you because I find them interesting. I average about 66 visitors a day, with an average of 122 page views a day. If I’m reading the web stats right, there have been a total of 5,497 visitors since April.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Maybe someday I’ll have something better than cancer to talk about.
Troy says I have more hair than Jack Mayo. He is one of Troy’s good friends, who shaves his head. So, that’s a good sign, eh? More hair than Jack Mayo. Mind you, it’s practically invisible hair. If I took a photo of myself right now, you’d say, “Hair? What hair?”