Confession: I’ve cried at least once per day for the last week or so. And tonight I’ve decided to finally talk about it. Someone told me that I don’t talk about this side of things enough, so here we are. It’s about to get real, so proceed with caution.
I’ve said this before, but I don’t really think you can say it enough: Cancer is a total mindfuck. Period.
I’ve been feeling very unlike me for a bit. I’m pretty much on the verge of tears at any point in time. For someone who is battling stage 4 cancer, I’ve done a pretty decent job of holding it together, but not anymore! To be honest, I was thoroughly convinced I had a hormone problem. I basically begged my doctor to run blood-work to see if things were out of whack. Well, today I found out that everything is normal. Which I guess is good? But, it doesn’t really answer my question as to why I’m feeling the way I am. I was hoping it was a simple solution but I think the answer I’m searching for is significantly more complicated than what I was hoping for.
Apparently I really like lists (probably heavily influenced by all the Buzzfeed articles I’ve read in my life) so here are all the feelings I have that I don’t know what to do with. Organizing them and putting them out in the world seemed like a good first step.
1) I’m scared. I am so, so scared. I’m scared of the treatment not working… I’m scared of the cancer coming back… I’m scared for my family… I’m just scared. (I’ve typed that word so much that it’s starting to look weird.) This weekend, my wrists ached after a long hike and I was absolutely hysterical. Like called my mom at 10pm, hysterical because of the pain and because I thought my cancer had spread to my bones. I try to not let the fear get the best of me, but that is way easier said than done. It’s just there, hovering all the time. I have new scans a week from today and I’m terrified. There is no reason to believe things aren’t working anymore, but that doesn’t eliminate the fear. I try not to visit the land of “what ifs” very often, because it’s such a scary place.
2) I’m angry. I’m so mad at cancer and for a million and one reasons. I’m mad that it has so rudely interrupted my life and caused so much pain and stress to my family. I’m mad that my friends are spending their summers taking vacations and I don’t have any PTO left because it’s consumed by cancer. I’m mad at the strangers that I see tanning at the pool, soaking up the very same thing that is trying to kill me and all the Melanoma Warriors. I’m mad that I have to spend so much money on medical bills. I’m mad that I have to babysit Mayo’s scheduling team to ensure my appointments are accurate. Also, I’m super mad that my friend Grace (also battling metastatic melanoma) has tumor that is large enough it's worthy of a name. Fuck, Phil. It all makes me so, so angry.
3) I’m frustrated. Oh boy, am I frustrated. I’m frustrated with all these damn feelings! I’m frustrated that people don’t talk about this side of Cancer. I’m frustrated that I can’t fix this. I’m supposed to feel happy that things are working. And I’m supposed to feel grateful that I’m getting the treatment and support that I am. Which just adds to the frustration! I do feel those things but I also feel all these other, less positive things.
People tell me how strong and brave I am. But at times, I don’t feel like I’m ‘doing’ anything to be strong. There are drugs that are being injected into my body and I have zero control over how my body will respond. The only thing I can really control is my mindset. My positive mindset has sort of been my go-to, and when that’s slipping away I don’t feel very strong at all anymore. I feel quite the opposite: defeated.
I told you it was a lot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.