Gee. Time flies when you’re trying to get your life back to normal.
Epilogue to the cancer story is that Tamoxifen doesn’t help all women. In fact, I had a really toxic reaction and my oncologist took me off after two months. It was a l-o-n-g time after that until I got myself back. Thank goodness for Dr. Heidi Peterson.
Well, it’s been quite an adventure and it’s not over yet. It will still be a few months (they say) until I feel normal again. Of course, I will never be the same again. And that’s OK. I am deepened and I have even more trust in the world and the people I love.
Thank you for being with me in this chapter.
I’m going back to client work now. Please visit me at Third Thought.
I was no Miz Universe before I was diagnosed but as I began treatment I was grateful for every bead of sweat I expended at my Jazzercise classes. The Cancer Adventure is not for sissies and if you start strong you will bear the treatment better than if you begin from a deficit. The fatigue is surprising and all that much harder if you’re toting around extra poundage. Radiation (I am told) is much harder on the skin of obese women. If you have an exercise habit you can maintain through the tough months you will recover faster.
Medicine is Toxic
Let’s face it. Cancer therapy involves pumping toxic substances into your body. Doctors seem to know how to take you to the absolute edge of endurance. See above. And see a naturopath.
Medicine is a Miracle
I am grateful every day that I am experiencing cancer in 2010 and not 1910. My cancer was detected extremely early by amazing methods. It was treated by sophisticated machines that produce marvelous results. The miracle helps me to overlook the toxicity.
Intimates are Crucial
My heart breaks for people going through this alone. You absolutely need one or two people with whom you can be your crabby, sobbing, exhausted self. On those days when I was craving a cup of tea but just going downstairs and making it seemed daunting…those days Susan brought me tea and a muffin. The times when the waterworks started up for reasons I could not identify, Susan was sympathetic and comforting. She took up my normal jobs so that all I needed to do was be nice to myself. Bless her forever. Because it is hard to be a caregiver. Really hard.
You May Get Practice on Familiar Work
Whatever it is that challenges you in daily life? You’ll get extra practice with it during the Cancer Experience. If you have trouble accepting help, you will need to learn how to do that better. If you are independent, you will learn to be dependent. If you are impatient (hmmmmm), you will get practice learning patience. As if this whole thing isn’t hard enough! Above all, you will be compelled to practice better self-care.
Love is There for the Asking (and you have to be OK with asking)
I have been overwhelmed by the love and thoughtfulness of my loved ones near and far. The notes on this site, the cards, the flowers, the meals, the attention and prayers sustained me. Community is vital and I am blessed with an amazing community. I am grateful to all of you.
I’ve joined a friend’s team to walk the Race for the Cure in a few weeks. The Komen events raise funds for education, awareness and mammograms. Early detection made a HUGE difference in my treatment options so I believe in the cause more than ever.
Now that I have completed my radiation therapy I can start saying that I am a ‘cancer survivor”. But I choke on the term. Survivor?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines survive: to remain alive or in existence : live on. That’s OK but it feels so passive.
So, rather than Cancer Survivor I plan to call myself a Cancer Veteran (with absolutely no disrespect to military veterans, some of whom are my family).
I feel like I have been at war with a very formidable enemy. I am recovering from some serious wounds and I am still in the battle for my health. Already I am sharing Cancer War stories with other veterans.
Last Friday I completed No. 28, the last radiation treatment. WAHOO. I said goodbye to the excellent Dr. Nico…
…and the lovely therapists who were with me every day: Greg, Camilla and Stacey.
As I told them, they made a difficult process a little easier. Bless them.
Then it was time to celebrate!!! Susan, Janet and I headed off to a nearby establishment and toasted the end of radiation. I had a martini 😉
Since then, I have been dismayed at how incredibly whupped I feel. Susan described it in an email to her sister, “Maggie is very tired and tender”. Yup. I lie around a lot and have spent hours catching up on Leverage, White Collar and The Closer.
I know that this, too, shall pass. Each day I feel a little stronger. Meanwhile, Susan is extracting promises from me to GO AND REST. So, my apologies when I don’t respond to your kind thoughts and notes. I AM receiving them and they DO help.