Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Big Girl Panties and an Ugly Cry


I lost my big girl panties and I’m on the verge of an ugly cry.

For whatever reason, I am struggling and have been struggling for the past few weeks. 

May is the start of my “cancerversary” season.

In other words, the “For whatever reason” is really “Because of effing cancer.”

And I have a hard time saying this out loud. Because this season marks five years and popular opinion is that this should be a veritable celebration of achieving ‘good statistic status’.

But, let’s be honest, cancer is as much a mindf%#k as well as a physiological disease.

Today marks five years since my first excisional biopsy. A big thing that became a small thing that is now part of a huge thing that I’m still trying to integrate into my life.

Today is one of the first of many babysteps that will land me square in the FIVE-YEAR CANCER SURVIVOR club.

I thought I’d processed the handling of this milestone already.

I thought I was ready to take my deep breath; acknowledge my fear and pain; acknowledge the forever guilt in dragging my family into the world of cancer; acknowledge my attempts of turning a crap diagnosis into a meaningful path forward.

I really thought I was ready to nod my head at this series of days and weeks and then proceed in a way that celebrates the beauty of each day and also respects that every day in good health is a gift not afforded to all people.

I am so NOT ready for that today.

I’m pent up and nervous about my own future health. I’m riddled with guilt over not being able to keep my neuroses to myself. I’m sick in my gut watching the suffering and premature demise of others not so fortunate as myself. And I’m angry with myself for not making the absolute most of every day.

I don’t need anyone to fix this for me. I don’t need anyone to blow perfume up my arse. 

I think I just need to acknowledge that, despite my current good health, remembering this date five years ago makes me sad and scared and angry.

Typing relaxes all my muscles and now that ugly cry is spilling out onto my keyboard.

When I’ve wiped everything down I’ll start looking for those big girl panties. 
Or, maybe, I just won’t wear any today.


Monday, May 7, 2018

A Little "Just to Be Sure" Scanxiety



There have been so many times in the past few months that I’ve composed blogs in my head and thought – I should really write that down. And each one of those times I’ve been too busy to write prioritized other things ahead of writing out whatever was in my head.

Today I’ve not much of an excuse. I just returned from a follow-up oncology visit and have just under two hours before I’m back at the medical building for a breast ultrasound. We’re taking a better look at what is likely a lymph node on the side of my right foob. It’s 99% a lymph node but doesn’t have the “fleshy” feel of my other lymph nodes so Dr. L wants a better look.

In a few hours we’ll have confirmed it’s just a healthy lymph node and I’ll get on with the day-to-day but, at this very moment, I’m feeling that familiar scanxiety.

Amusingly enough I was actually completely laissez-faire about the whole affair during the discussion with Dr. L and the scheduling with the imaging department. I was also fairly meh about things for about two hours afterwards. But now, at home, waiting to return for my appointment and trying to get some work done, I’m a little unnerved.

Thankfully I now know better than to waste time and energy rationalizing my emotions and I’ve learned the most valuable thing I can do for myself is write it all out. This is reality. This is reality even after almost five years with no evidence of disease. I’m not a worrier or a hypochondriac. I’m just a woman whose body once betrayed her by growing a mass of rouge cells that, if left unchecked, have the potential to bring down the house.
I’m just a woman who felt like she was following all the health rules and still found herself at the short end of a cancer screening. 
I’m just a woman who is grateful to be alive and grateful to have her health. 
I’m just a woman who is, on a daily basis, cognizant that others my age and with my disease origin, are being devastated physically, emotionally and financially. I’m just a woman who says goodbye to friends at an inordinately rapid rate because of cancer.

I guess that’s what scanxiety is for me these days – going through the “oh shit” and the “what if” all the way to 114 a day die from metastatic breast cancer. Going all the way to Diane and Beth and Beth and Angela and Lori and Janet and so many others. And, most recently April, Dianne and Vicki.

So, when a routine oncology follow-up turns into a “let’s just make SURE it’s nothing ultrasound appointment” there are a lot more things for me to unpack.

Thanks for letting me unpack them in front of you and thank you for letting me react to my reality without judgment.

I am just scanxious and that’s okay.