• Earning My Weekend

    DearWeekendILoveYou

    The weekend is finally here. Can I get a halleluiah? Maybe a quick, heartfelt amen?

    It’s been a busy week. Not in a bad way. It just. . . man, it seems like a lot happened.

    On Monday I had my chemo port flushed. While sitting in the waiting room I overheard a conversation between two men. Each had liver cancer and they were comparing diagnoses.  Let me tell ya, it’s pretty fucking sobering to hear a man with stage four metastatic liver cancer discuss his bucket list (his word, not mine).

    I can’t wait to have this port removed. It isn’t the maintenance. The appointment is easy. The hard part is being back on the chemo floor listening to the other patients. I rarely see anyone visibly upset, but that somehow makes it worse. There’s a feeling of resignation in that waiting room. A feeling of stepping in front of an oncoming train, holding up your hand, closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

    Next time I have to have the port flushed I think I’ll bring headphones. Maybe someone will be kind enough to tap me on the shoulder when my name is called.

    That man, the one with stage four cancer? He wants to visit Alaska.

    I hope to God he gets to go.

    Tuesday I received a phone call setting up the date for my reconstructive surgery. As of right now, that date is March 4, 2016 unless I get bumped for an active cancer case. (In which case, they totally win that coin toss.)

    The scheduler hung up with the promise of another phone call and (sigh) many pre-op appointments to come.

    Yaaay.

    Wednesday I buried myself in work. My job is a refuge full of distracting metrics and excel sheets and power point slides. I am insanely grateful for my job. It keeps me from climbing the walls.

    Thursday I got a call setting the pre-op mammogram for February 29th. I can’t have a mammogram on the right side (there’s no ‘mam’ left to ‘gram’) but the plastic surgeon needs one for the left side because he’ll be doing a breast lift.

    Mammograms suh-huh-huh-huck. Especially the ones that don’t end well.

    More imaging and tests and goddammit I’m just over it.

    I’ve managed to work my way down from Xanax to a regimen of sweaty workouts and chamomile tea, but I’m not sure they’re up to handling all this. So I’ll keep the Xanax handy.

    I’m praying to whoever or whatever is listening that there’s no sign of cancer in my left breast. There wasn’t at the last mammogram in January, but damn, that seems like an awfully long time ago.

    Thursday improved when my coworker’s wife brought their six month old son to the office for a visit. The week was shaping up to either need a puppy or a baby. I got the baby. There is something about holding a squirming six month old that just makes me smile.

    Friday ended the week with a follow up at the oncological surgeon. This doctor focuses solely on cutting out the cancer (she leaves the prettying up to the plastics team). She was very pleased with how I’ve healed since radiation.

    She even asked me if I was sure I finished radiation. I assured her I did.

    There’s still a faintly tan box under my arm and on the back of my shoulder leftover from radiation, but on the surface, that’s all that can be seen from radiation. Apparently no one else gets off that easy.

    She added a chest x-ray to my pre-op screening because my ribs right below my right breast are still tender. Radiation has been known to crack ribs. I’m not in constant pain. They’re only tender when I press on them. Otherwise I’m unaware of it. But she ordered an x-ray just in case.

    Her caution is appreciated, if a bit nerve wracking.

    So it’s just been a week full of stressful conversations, all of which turned out fine, but left me emotionally and mentally exhausted.

    I’m so tired. I don’t mean fatigued. Physically, I feel great. Mentally? I’m just tired of cancer.

    I think I earned my weekend.

    Xoxo,

    Meghan

    Ps. I love comments! Don’t want to leave a comment? Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong (at) gmail (dot) com.

6 Responsesso far.

  1. Auntie Minute says:

    You can’t think what next, you have to think positive thoughts…..not cancer just good results. Its all about positive thinking….

    • Meghan says:

      I understand what you’re saying. Positive thinking definitely has its place. But do I think happy, sunny thoughts are going to stop cancer cells from growing? Not really. I don’t think cancer cells give two shits how I feel about them.

      It’s unrealistic for me to not think about the future and trying to be positive all the time is additional pressure I won’t put on myself. It was a rocky week. I acknowledge that. Next week will be better. I acknowledge that, too.

      One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned during this whole process is to honor what I’m feeling.

      I can’t put a brave face on all the time. I can’t be positive all the time. I can, however, pressure myself to try. And, man, I excel at pressuring myself.

      I used to feel crushing guilt because I couldn’t be a *finger quotes* beacon of hope and positivity for every woman out there with breast cancer. And it made me sad that couldn’t protect those around me from experiencing bad and scary feelings every time I mentioned cancer.

      Hell, I can’t protect myself from those feelings. I don’t know why I thought I could protect others.

      But I sure tried.

      I think a lot of cancer patients (and, really, anyone going through a personal crisis) feel the need to protect others. Half the time, we’re managing the people around us at the expense of our own feelings. We’re scared out of our minds, but we can see the person we’re talking to is also scared because of what we’re saying, so we bury our own feelings so the other person will feel better.

      All this did for me was make me lonely because I’d shut people out. Only when I started telling the truth about how I felt and how cancer was affecting me, physically and emotionally, did I feel better.

      I have bad days. I have bad weeks. I also have really good days and really good weeks. I try and show the balancing act on this blog.

      The American Cancer Society wrote a fantastic article on positive thinking and a cancer diagnosis. Really it could be applied to anyone going through a life changing crisis. The article is called Attitudes and Cancer (click here to read it). I found so much of myself reflected in this article it might have been written for me.

      I hope that makes sense.

      With love, Meghan

  2. Not sure how I found your blog but I am grateful I have. You make us aware of the preciousness of life.
    When you are low—remember you aren’t riding these waves alone. I and others will be there patting your soul and saying ‘there, there’ like some invisible caring grandmother.

    (I hope that doesn’t sound too freaky. . .)

  3. Jessica says:

    Your blog speaks to me and I’m so grateful for having found it. You put into words many of the things that I am thinking and feeling about my own cancer experience (mine has been a two year struggle with stage 3 uterine cancer). Thank you for lending us your voice. Sending you much love, light and life.

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