As I try to walk through my old patterns of life. To step back into normal life. What is normal anyway? Allow me to be transparent for a moment. At times I feel like an outsider from my own body, looking at myself from a stranger’s perspective. I don’t know or recognize this person anymore. Rather than a woman, I relate more to a jigsaw puzzle. Specifically, I’m the puzzle with that one frustrating missing piece, like when you approach the end of a 1000 piece masterpiece only to find you only have 999 pieces. The incompleteness nags at you after all your hard work.
Starting out on this journey I determined not to let cancer change me. And I prayed that God forbid, if it did, it would be for the better. Jeremiah 29:11 right? God says, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.” But right now I’m not in a smooth transition. For example, it is much harder to wake up every morning. I require more sleep but I have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. I fight the urge to drink coffee all day long. Most days I lose that battle. Another example is several of my finger and toenails growing back as ingrown nails. Pain! Never experienced that before…what’s up with that? Friends, do not take your nails for granted. Also, an ugly chemo port protrudes from my chest, making me feel like Quasimodo as it pulls and pokes. My fracture doesn’t hurt anymore so with my orthopedic’s approval I have been able to carefully run short distances. Unfortunately I banged my knee hard against my bike trainer and bruised the bone so it is hurting so bad I cannot run. The orthopedic went ahead and gave it an x-ray just to be sure that it’s not fractured. I have to laugh at my own stupidity or I might cry at this irony. I return to the cancer center every 3rd week for an infusion, a reminder that cancer isn’t completely in my rear view mirror. Right now my breasts consist of “temporary expanders” filled with saline. They are sutured down to my rib cage and cause sensitive nerve endings to fire up at times. I wonder if my transfer surgery in the fall will fail due to infection? The sensitive combination of radiated tissue and silicone implants cause many patients to have them taken out and start all over again. In the meantime I have lumpy unfinished breasts. It’s all maddening. At times I feel like screaming. Yes, the struggle is real.
I try to be strong but I’m so tired. I’m not as patient as I used to be. Will my family ever see the end to this mad cow disease? I’m searching for a new coping strategy. People ask how I’m doing. You got all day to talk about it? I’m scared to truly express myself for fear of the possible conclusions. In regards to my strength, will I find that I am too weak to ever compete at the level I used to? I am beginning again to push myself in my workouts and finding that I’m not as strong and I’m not recovering as well as I used to. Do I even have a competitive spirit anymore? Most importantly, I’m scared the cancer will come back. There. I said it.
With a tendency to simply “soldier on,” I push my thoughts away, stuffing my feelings down. But then I feel worse. Inevitably small problems arise which feel 10 times worse than they should and I accidentally blast my problems at my family. My poor unsuspecting husband didn’t take a course called “What to do When Wife Goes through Cancer, 101”. It’s not fair to him that he has been exploded upon countless times.
I hesitate to vocalize these problems knowing that some might try to swoop in with their well intentions and attempt to deliver a magic formula. Please don’t try and fix me.
In many ways it was easier for me when I was still going through regular treatments. I could warrior through it. Veni vidi vici is no longer my anthem. This isn’t quick or easy. I am unfinished. I just have to be patient and learn to sit with this awhile.