My life is a little like Ground Hog Day (the 1993 movie) right now, which is why I haven’t written. Every day I wake, I shower, I head to the hospital for my radiation treatment, drive back, work, try to nap, work some more, dinner, a little relaxation until I fall asleep early on the couch, bed, and then it starts all over again.
I started radiation treatments this week. The treatment isn’t so bad, probably 10 minutes on the table and then I’m on my way, but the after effects are already being felt. When you’re laying there you feel nothing. It’s kind of like a giant moving Xray machine or MRI (but much quieter). I even had the thought day two, “how do I know they’re doing anything at all?” But by the night of day two it became obvious something is happening on that table. My left breast, what’s left of it post-surgery, started to show signs of “sun” burn. Red and welty looking.
Not to mention that post-surgery, all the swelling is finally gone from my left side and after the material they had to take to make sure I was cancer-free, I am clearly lopsided. They removed what amounts to about a cup size from my left breast. The bonus? Radiation should shrink that up even further.
Really, I know I’m complaining a lot here. I certainly don’t mean to whine. But you know what? Cancer and the aftermath is stupid. I don’t feel like “poor me”. But I don’t feel like a valiant fighter/survivor, either. I’m in the middle, and the lack of sleep isn’t helping. The combination of the trauma of being diagnosed followed by surgery followed by treatment in a short amount of time is a lot to digest. I’m sure there’s some depression setting in about the whole thing. And then the treatment…tired is one of the side effects, though everything I’ve read indicated that should come a little later — but then again, so should the sun burn effect and that showed up pretty immediately, so who knows. What I do know is that I’m not enjoying the journey today.
My team at work has been wonderful — they have all rallied around me and been super supportive, especially those I work most closely with. I’ve been able to manage a pretty normal work day, other than an afternoon nap break. I have a slightly “type-A” personality and I’m working hard to fight against it for this short period. I’m trying to put into perspective that a) the work will always be there; and b) this is temporary. But it’s difficult when I’m used to pushing 150% and right now I can only do about 75%. There’s a overwhelming feeling of guilt — not created by anyone but I carry it inside. Why I’m wired this way, I have no idea.
See, and there it is, my brain just clicked over into the need to put into words how even though I’ve written what I have above, I feel overwhelmingly blessed in this trial. And I truly do, but that doesn’t minimize the other feelings I harbor. I know this could have been much worse. I could have put off that mammography and I could still be walking around sick unbeknownst to me. They could have found things much later and my prognosis wouldn’t be amazing like it is. My treatment could have certainly been much worse. But even with all that, I just need to say, I hate the cancer I had. I hate the treatment and that it’s part of my regimen every.single.day. I hate that my daughter has to feel worried or scared about what I’m going through or that my husband has to constantly remind me not to push myself beyond my current capabilities. I hate that we wanted to get out as a family last night and had to find a “low-key” activity rather than the bowling I suggested because really, that sounded fun to me. But Frank knew that would be too much for my body and he didn’t give in even though I complained about not getting to go like a whiny five year old.
With that — we had a nice time as a family last night. And I cherish those moments for sure. Not because of cancer, but because Kenzie is still here. She’s 18 and I know the time is fleeting. One day soon life will take hold and she’ll be out on her own like our son, Jake, is. And as excited as I am for her world to open wide, I’ll miss having her here, with us, to share nights like last night. We took Frank back to Peppermint Forest, the Christmas store on steroids. That’s Kenzie and my third visit, and still, the wanderlust in her eyes is something to behold…She is fully engaged in the magic of the season. And I love observing her in the midst of it.
From there we went to the Carolinas Mall. Which, I have to say, isn’t anything special on the outside, but inside, it’s really nice. Lots of great stores, and the inside is pretty, and the halls are wide so you don’t feel jam packed with people. Towards the end, Kenzie wanted to visit a particular store and I was feeling tired. Low and behold, outside the store was a bank of massage chairs. $5 for 15 minutes. Yes, please. So, there I sat, relieving my sore muscles and letting go for just a bit. It was just what I needed — a little self-TLC.
I’m looking forward to this month of December. Family coming to town and seeing all the sights between now and Christmas. High on the list is the Billy Graham Library all set up for Christmas, holiday lights throughout neighborhoods, making cookies and treats and gingerbread decorating night. And then of course our candle tradition.
December 12th we put out a tray of 12 candles on the dining table. Night one we light only one candle and read a scripture by its dim light and eat dinner in the same way – depicting how though there was light in the beginning, the world was dim before Christ arrived. By the 12th night, Christmas Eve, we are reading about His birth and eating by a full set of candle light. It’s our way of keeping the meaning of Christmas in the fore-front.
So many good things to look forward to. And soon this cancer will be in the rearview mirror. I look forward to that as well. Soon. I just have to remember, it will be soon.