Two years ago, I restarted my blog when a diagnosis of breast cancer snuck up on me and left me with precious few ways to deal with my feelings other than writing about them. I tried to be funny, I tried to be hopeful, I tried to be brave. On some days, I succeeded. On others, I failed spectacularly. But still I wrote.
Then, my treatments were over. The never-ending schedule of doctors’ appointments came to an end, and the part of my cancer journey that the public could see was done. I was left with the personal, private parts of cancer – fatigue, depression and fear. Fatigue because the treatments drained me of every little bit of energy. Depression because I was mutilated and would never be the same.
Fear because it could come back.
So I stopped writing. I thought that I would sound whiny when I complained that I didn’t have the energy to decorate the Christmas tree. I thought that I would sound ungrateful when I bitched about how hard life was. I thought I would sound stupid when I talked about how sometimes the fear of cancer coming back kept me awake at night.
The fatigue eventually faded, to be replaced by the fatigue one feels as a mom with a husband, three kids, a job, too many volunteer commitments, a house and a life.
The depression eventually lifted and I remembered to be grateful for all that I do have, including my loud kids, my occasionally-annoying husband and my mutilated – but apparently cancer-free – body.
The fear? Well, that never really goes away. Fear of recurrence can take your breath away without warning, like when you wish your hormonal 10-year old daughter has a daughter who is just like her, and then have to stop and wonder if you will be around to meet her. Like when you read about someone who had conquered the disease only to succumb to a recurrence.
Like when your oncologist calls to tell you a blood test came back positive. Like when you have a PET scan. Like when he tells you your cancer is back and it has spread to your liver.
It’s the lottery you never want to win: Congratulations, Meredith! Your cancer is back!
In some ways it’s a relief when the other shoe drops. The fear that it will come back is gone because the fear is now the reality. Of course, this is replaced by the fear that I won’t meet that hormonal, pre-pubescent granddaughter I have wished on my girl. The fear of the pain that is inevitably coming.
The fear that I can’t survive a second time.
I have so much left to do. I have a lot of parenting left. My life is now like a big game of “never have I ever.” There are far too many items on the “never have I ever” list for my liking. I want more family time, more friend time, more love, more laughter, less pity, less fear, less cancer.
I ask only for the love and prayers of friends and family. And probably rides for the kids to school and football and CCD and cheer and baseball tryouts and skating lessons and playdates and and and. Uber is going to make a freakin’ fortune off of me!
At least three times in the last 24 hours I have said the phrase, “Life goes on.” I was at the boys’ football practice after my CT scan last night. I’m going school shopping after my liver biopsy tomorrow. I’m hosting a luncheon next week before chemo. I am still me, I am still committed to all that my life has to offer.
I really wanted to end here with something funny. My humor got me through the last time and I know it will again. I just need to find it.
Love to you all – MLV
Categories: breast cancer