It’s been about two and a half weeks since my last post. I typically write an entry once a week, and have found this to be beneficial for both myself and my readers. I’m sure some of you would love for me to post every single day, but I assure you, my life doesn’t have the abundance of fodder to permit daily rantings. You’ve probably been wondering where I went. Fact is, I went on no exotic vacations. I didn’t travel to a warm beach somewhere and sip margaritas. I didn’t fly to the Big Apple and hop on the subway to see a Broadway show. I’ve been here the whole time. But I’ve been feeling like a cancer patient more and more these last few weeks, and it’s as if time is standing still.
While I am an advocate and promoter of living your life as you would without a diagnosis, it’s been difficult for me recently. Side effects from chemo, emotional roller coasters, and the second-by-second battle of the mind have really put a damper on my life. My diagnosis is getting in the way, and it’s quite the annoyance. I’m actually downright pissed… and irritated… and frustrated… and exhausted… and, and, and.
Chemotherapy is cumulative, therefore, it builds up with each dose. This often makes side effects more prominent as time goes by, and in my case there is truth to that. My brain is being affected. I don’t feel like myself. I’m experiencing more and more “chemo brain.” It interferes with my short-term memory, and makes planning things a big task. Even with as organized as I am, some things have been falling through the cracks. Unless I immediately write in my planner what needs to be done, what appointment has been made, or when I plan on getting together with friends, the information just disappears. For some of you this isn’t odd or unusual, it’s a part of your everyday life. For me, this is the farthest from who I am. I like to be punctual. Lately, that’s a hit or miss. I like to remember to-do’s, plans, and appointments. Again, lately a hit or miss. I’m forgetful and indecisive. My brain isn’t registering things as quickly. For instance, I have forgotten whether or not I had already scheduled my next treatment. I have been nearly an hour late to hang out with family. And, when Matt asks where I’d like to go for date nights, I rarely can offer any suggestions.
I feel stuck. I feel like once cancer barged back into my life, everything froze. This second time beating cancer has been more trying. It’s hard to see everyone else’s lives continue on. Jobs, babies, the purchase of new homes, travel. Healing. Though I am genuinely and sincerely happy to see our friends and family continue on through life and in no way am saying “pity us,” it’s a bittersweet feeling. There are so many things that Matt and I want to do in our lives. We look forward to being parents someday, and I ache for that moment often. We look forward to moving to a different state and buying a home. We look forward to being able to travel (anywhere). But, right now I feel stuck. I know that someday these things will happen, but right now it’s as is our future is in a thick fog.
Fighting cancer is hard. And, often people have no clue how hard it truly is. It’s not only a fight for your life, which is difficult enough. It’s staying strong through multiple treatments. It’s standing firm in faith through scans and tests. It’s a one-on-one spiritual war. It’s all the aforementioned, combined with idiotic insurance agents, overwhelming medical bills, and other life drama. It’s not just a fight. My diagnosis has transformed every moment, every nook and cranny, and every aspect of my life. That’s just a fact.
Many of you hate needles. Many of you hate going to the hospital. Many of you hate feeling sick. Imagine getting poked with needles hundreds of times in a year. Imagine having to rush to the ER whenever you experience an unusual symptom. Imagine throwing up so violently you can’t catch your breath. Imagine the worst pain you’ve experienced and multiply it. Cancer sucks. And it pisses me off.
I’ve been asked several times, “How do you do it?!” Most of the time, internally, I am on the floor in hysterical laughter at this curiosity. The answer is, “I have two choices. Life or death. And I choose life.” In addition, I am thankful I have my faith. Without God, I would be dead already. Without my faith, hope would not exist. Without my Savior, I would be weak. But through Him, I am strong. Although cancer is the hardest battle I’ve fought, I refuse to be anything but victorious. It won’t rob me of my dreams and goals. It won’t steal my life.
Time may feel like it’s standing still for my husband and I right now, but one day, the hands on the clock will move once more. However, in the deepest part of my spirit, I know that time isn’t standing still at all. Every day and every moment in this journey is a day and a moment closer to our future. And although I can’t always see how God is working, I know that He is. I’m thankful that he didn’t punch out on His time card, and that He is still moving the pieces in my life.
You know what I look forward to the most? Being a cancer survivor. Looking back and being able to say, “It makes sense. I see how that journey fit together. I see what God was doing.” Until then, I fight to the finish, no matter how hard. Because, after all, I only have two choices.
Psalm 37:5-7 (MSG Version)
“Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him…”