Lost in the midst of this crazy couple of weeks with changing schedules and chemo and surgery. Off in the distance of hospitals, endless car rides to Philadelphia and Thanksgiving turkey I missed my two year Cancerversary.
12/1/14 passed and with it I became a two year “survivor” … er … What’s that word we use with an INCURABLE cancer? Ah yes …. a two year thirvivor.
This journey has been absolutely indescribable. Everyone has a different journey just as everyone has a different form of cancer. We present the disease differently, therefore we cope differently. Some of us are fighters – “TOUGH GUYS” – if you will. Some of us are reflective and thoughtful. Either way, I’ve learned an awful lot about myself and about cancer in general that I’d like to share.
First of all – cancer is PAINFUL. CANCER HURTS! We see in the movies people hooked into IV machines, or sleeping (because – yes – it’s tiring too) but there are some days the pain is so bad that getting out of bed would be a TREAT. These days, lately, are far too frequent.
Secondly, cancer is cumulative. I tolerated early treatments way better than current ones. I have built up an immunity to the effectiveness and the toxicity increases cumulatively with each passing day.
Thirdly, fighting cancer REQUIRES – no – DEMANDS – that you give up all sense of control you have over life itself. Your health comes first and somewhere along the way you have to allow for mishaps, surprises and snafus. When cancer decides it wants to fuck with you – because it can – it is YOUR job to stop everything, FIGHT IT, and then go back and finish whatever it was you were doing before. HEALTH first – because without that cornerstone – there is NOTHING else.
So … what does it all mean? I HAVE NO FREAKIN IDEA!!! All I know is that we walk separate journeys – each according to the hand and presentation we are dealt. BUT – WE WALK THEM HOLDING HANDS TOGETHER – each trying to fight until that elusive cure is found.
Cancer has left me in some of the strangest most vulnerable positions I have ever been in.
I have been stood up by appointments in the pouring rain on the Main Line in Philly, in which case I spent so much time trying to find a bathroom that I ended up sitting in my drivers seat soaking from the rain and peeing in my pants. What did I do? Went to my lunch appointment then went home for the day.
I spent an afternoon constipated in the Huntington NY Hilton thinking I was going to die because a tumor was blocking my poop from coming out. PAINFUL! SCARY! UNCERTAINTY! Two hours in that freaking bathroom!
Yesterday in this very hospital my day was a comedy of errors that left me at maybe my most vulnerable since this two year journey began. I woke up well enough. Helene had just brought some fresh sweatpants. You KNOW I love me my sweatpants. The nurse filled a nice warm bowl of water and soap in my bathroom sink so I could clean myself up – going on 4 days here NO SHOWER! That’s when it all went wrong. The fresh, clean sweatpants I hung on the hook fell into the wash bowl. STRIKE ONE! I got a new pair and proceeded onward toward cleanliness. I then blew my nose and I think half the insides came out in blood. My platelets are low so I don’t have normal clotting function. Blood is EVERYWHERE! STRIKE TWO! I tried to gather my composure, brush my teeth and get some deodorant on but the pain in the femur was so and I couldn’t do it alone. I stood at the sink, looking in the mirror, holding these sweatpants, completely NAKED, holding back tears, while my 85 year old stepfather dressed me. STRIKE THREE! A new low. I am 47 years young. My dad isn’t supposed to dress me! I’m CAPABLE! I’m CONFIDENT! I’m ABLE! Damnit! This isn’t supposed to be happening to ME!
This is the lesson: Cancer exposes you. Cancer puts you in a position where you MUST let others in. You MUST accept help – which is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. I don’t like HELP. I don’t like to let OTHERS IN. But in those moments? You HAVE to cede control …. or you will NOT survive.
I don’t know what I would have done if he weren’t there yesterday. I don’t know how he kept it all together to be there for me in my moment. MOMENTS. MOMENTS of support, of love, of encouragement. MOMENTS in which nobody judges. It is what is is. We rose above it and got the job done TOGETHER.
I am grateful for that moment.