Most of the time I was always able to find the ever elusive silver lining, to laugh in the face of the ugly truth, and to shine a light at the darkness that is cancer.
Physical pain.... It's real... I could, and someday will, write
an entire entry about it, but we are are evolutionarily designed to forget pain. That is how women are able to bear more than one child. The pain is real, cancer hurts, treatment hurts, but there are an abundance of tools to deal with physical pain.
Losing my hair.... HA! If I had to do it all over again, I would shave my head every time. It is hard for some, I get it, but for me that was one thing I could control. I took my hair long before it was gone. On my terms. And you know what....
bald is beautiful. Bald is sexy. If it works for Bruce Willis and it works for Demi Moore, then it works for me.
Leaving my job, leaving my home.... That wasn't easy, I admit. I remember calling work from the Chemo-lounge for no real reason other
than I didn't want to become useless. But, you just establish a new routine. Keep it small. Focus on what pills you take in the morning, try to eat, go to your doctor appointments for that day, try to eat a little more, drink water when you
can, so on, and so forth.
Even though I was able to do that most of the time, the one thing that creeps in through the back door, is the burden. That was one thing I didn't have a plan for.
Since I was eleven years old I got myself up every
morning at 5:30am, got showered, dressed, grabbed breakfast, and walked to school to get to my first class by 7:20. I started doing my own laundry, I was responsible for a large portion of the house cleaning. I moved out of my mother's house the day after
I graduated high school. My whole life circled around independence, so for me to become utterly dependent over night was crushing.
Having to be driven around to all of my appointments because my right optical nerve had been so damaged that I didn't
trust my own depth perception. Not able to stand up without help from a squatting position. Just getting a pan from the lower cabinets to make soup required a plan if I was by myself. I remember picking fights with my boyfriend purely because I didn't want
him to waste his life. I didn't want both of us to suffer. We were both so young when I got sick, I was 27, he was barely 30 and our lives had been reduced to the excitement level of a nursing home. He took every hit so hard. There was
a real possibility that I could go blind from the levels of radiation therapy, and I know he was worried that would happen, and that I would never see his face again. Before my surgery on my frontal lobe, there was a risk that I could lose my memory. I knew
he was thinking, what if you wake up and don't know who I am? And then, even if I beat cancer the chances of me having children went down. The chances of having a healthy child with no birth defects was even slimmer. And, that is if I made it to the other
end. So, you start thinking... What kind of life am I offering to this person?
One time we were on the phone, I was in Houston, he was in Denver, and I said, "Don't you want to have a healthy girlfriend?"
He said, "No, I want my
Then I cried. He, along with my family, were not in this with me out of duty, they were in it with me because even though getting cancer was not anyone's choice, they all chose to stand in this fight, with me, together.
Though that relationship ended years later, he stood up to me when I needed to be stood up to. He wasn't the only one either, there were other times when other family members snapped their fingers in front of my face and told me I wasn't going to push
The feeling of burden happens to all patients at some point, and I don't have any tips or tricks to avoid it. All I can say is that there are people in this world, and in our lives, that would rather sleep on the ICU floor
than be parted from you. It seems to me very obvious now that the antidote for burden, is love.