I have three new blog posts almost finished. They have sat with me for a few days and I thought one might get finished today. They just need a nice pretty bow to wrap them up. Nope. I don’t have it in me today to attempt witty observations or share funny cancer stories (yes, they do exist). All I can think about today is that tomorrow is my last day without chemo in my body. I don’t even like how my body feels when I have too much caffeine, sugar or alcohol, and usually, those choices for me are combined with fun. Putting chemo in my body is not fun. Earlier this week I kept trying to re-frame the thought of chemo entering all my cells by calling it “magic potion”. I know…my “glass is half-full” personality at its normal state can be annoying. But for those who are annoyed by sunny dispositions, don’t worry. Julie Ann is back. Tonight, I’m convinced chemo is a malicious poison and not a magic potion at all.
It all started this morning with a bowl of Cheerios, bananas and almond milk. Yes, benign Cheerios. Julie likes Cheerios and even their name. After what happened, this morning, Julie Ann says F*** Cheerios and their stupid name that doesn’t live up to expectations because after I ate, my stomach was upset. That never happens with Cheerios. Suddenly my eyes welled up and before I knew it, I was crying and couldn’t catch my breath. While Tom held me and tried to figure out what the hell was wrong, I squeaked out that if simple Cheerios made me sick to my stomach, how the hell would I handle chemo?
So, this is the raw truth for today. Instead of finishing the “fun” blogs about showers, bras, wigs, swimming again and deodorant (really – they are fun!) I feel I need to honor where I am today. Cancer flat out sucks and lest anyone think that a naturally positive person approaches cancer with all smiles and confidence, Julie Ann reminded me to let you know the real truth. I’m scared of how my body will feel with not only the chemo in my body but also the steroids that I have to take the day before, day of and day after chemo. I’ve had scary experiences with steroids in the past. I’m scared some cancer cells will not get captured and destroyed. I’m scared that despite all the assurances from doctors, nurses, friends and loved ones, my nausea will TAKE ME OUT. I’m scared the scars will not heal – both physically and mentally. I’m scared about going back to work with no hair. I’m scared I’ll miss yet another summer of fun activities. My mind goes to dark places and sometimes having to put on a smile and answer the question that always gets asked with a head tilt, “How are you?” is more than I can handle. I can rally for small moments, but in truth, I feel like an imposter more times than not when I put on the “brave” and “PMA” (positive mental attitude) face.
I want to cry, kick and scream more than you’d believe if you know me. Even when I pray. Maybe especially when I pray.
Tomorrow brings more blood work and if all is well, chemo starts on Tuesday morning. I still have another day to re-frame my thoughts about chemo and maybe I’ll believe it is a magic potion again that will bring amazing powers and love, light and all things unicorns and rainbows. Right now, it is a malicious poison that I did not ask to drink and I think some witch is trying to turn me into something unrecognizable.
A friend sent me a message earlier in the week that I keep thinking about. Last year, his wife has gone through a similar diagnosis, surgery and treatment plan and I had reached out to him even though it had been years since we had spoken. I just wanted to connect with someone who knew what I was going through and about to step into with this next phase.
In his message back to me, he was clearly writing to Julie Ann and it was exactly what I needed to hear. He said, “There are no kinder words regarding cancer than it sucks. No way to candy-coat the situation.” Truth. And then a few messages later he said, “…and I won’t call you brave, you are strong.”
The being called brave thing has bugged me since the beginning of my diagnosis and having someone recognize the annoying label of “brave” – as if we choose it, and re-frame it to “strong”, well, that does give me a glimmer of hope that both Julie and Julie Ann will soon be happy to get through the magic potion phase of cancer. I think I can do this. Anyone have a magic wand?
~Mug Up Mermaid