It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in an actual, legitimate relationship. Unfortunately, I’ve had more hurt and disappointment than love and happiness over the last three years. Many a night have I cried myself to sleep, hoping that circumstances could be different. That my prince was just waiting for his perfect moment to ride gallantly into my life and save me from the evil that has plagued me. To wake me from this seemingly endless nightmare and bring me back to life. At this point, after everything I’ve been through, I feel like I need love now more than I ever have. Some days I can literally feel the open space deep within my chest, empty and hollow. Other days it’s a constant gnawing, an unsatiated hunger that leaves me cold. I have a desperate longing for the touch of a man, to feel his love wash over me and take away this melancholy that haunts me so. To feel the warmth and safety of strong arms wrapped around me, fingers intertwined. To lay my head on his chest and breathe in the scent of his skin while he runs his hands through my hair. To be truly loved, desired, needed, wanted, all of it. To belong to them. To finally be something to someone. To be beautiful to them. To have my heart truly be received by a kind soul. To feel the pain of what I’ve been through slip away with each gentle kiss, with every lasting embrace. To look into someones eyes and see their passion reflected back into mine. To simply exist with each other, healing together in love. To feel that hopeful spark of happily ever after. It’s a stupid dream, really. It seems to be the dream of a naive child and not that of an educated woman, but at the end of the day it’s the dream I wish and hope with all of my heart will come true.
It’s occurred to me that I haven’t mentioned a very important detail that was made known to me over a month ago. At my first post-surgical appointment, my surgeon and my oncologist informed me that I am now officially cancer-free. I was handed a 4-page pathology report that was made after analyzing the tumor, bone, muscle and other bits that were removed from me during the operation. It was mostly scientific mumbo-jumbo that a non-medical professional such as myself could not decipher, but the third paragraph told me everything I have been wanting desperately to hear; No tumor seen.
Everyone was very excited by this news; my family, my friends, my doctors, they all had one thing in common in their reaction to the diagnosis; They seemed to feel a genuine sense of relief. I was definitely pleased to hear that the cancer was gone but it wasn’t like when I found out the first time around. There were no tears of joy, no feelings of accomplishment nor the satisfaction of completion. Deep down I know it’s because I’m absolutely terrified that it could happen again. I remember the doctors being so sure that I would never have a recurrence after the initial sarcoma because I had reacted so well to the chemotherapy and they got good margins during the surgery and they managed to get the entire tumor, etc. I had clear PET scans for months after my celebratory party at the hospital and I thought that I was truly in the clear. It was all over…until it wasn’t. I didn’t even get to a year of being cancer-free, just 8 months. Ironically, I had a clear PET 4 weeks before I started to feel pain in my hip, pain that I was sure was due to the rigorous physical therapy I was doing at that time after my third surgery. But as it turns out, it wasn’t the PT and a tumor had managed to grow inside my pelvis in a matter of a month.
I know I’m lucky. I know it’s a miracle I have been able to live through any of this at all, but there’s a part of me that feels like it’s not over and a fear that it will never be over. I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel like it’s time to celebrate and tempt fate. The fact is no one knows if this is really the end of cancer for me. I’m sure this is a common feeling among survivors who have had a recurrence. The fear of the unknown is almost suffocating sometimes. At this point in time, I have another 5 weeks of being homebound and non-weight bearing. After that I have to begin PT so I can learn how to walk again for the fourth time in my life. Maybe when I get through all of that and start to feel like a person again I’ll start to feel more of a sense of relief. I’m sure I will, but for now I just need to keep that little voice in the back of my mind quiet so I can move forward and live my life.
Today I’m feeling like I’m going to burst. Like there is something inside of me that needs to be released but there’s no way out. I can literally feel a blockage. Something pushing down hard, keeping everything inside. There’s a dam built up high deep within, holding back the floodgate. I’ve tried to cry a few times but it never came to fruition. I wish I could reach inside my chest and pull out all of the weight I feel pushing me under, but I can’t. The heaviness swallows me up whole and all I can do is let it. I have so many thoughts and emotions no one can touch, no one can see. No one ever will. Things I would never want anyone to know. I long to be relaxed, to be loose, to be carefree and content. To cast off the stone that weighs me down and to fly. To trade pain for ecstasy, fear for valor, despair for hope. This ache is too much to bear today. Every day is different when you are being held captive by your own body. A body I once loved and showed proudly to the world is now the same body I want to hide and keep locked away. I wish someone could just come and kiss this all away like it’s been nothing but a bad dream. But it’s just me. I’m alone. And as much as I wish it could be, life isn’t a fairy tale.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. For whatever reason I haven’t been able to just sit and let the contents of my mind flow outward. I’ve been trying to keep it all in. Sometimes I’m afraid that if I really get in touch with what it is I’m feeling/thinking, I will completely lose it. Like I will start crying and just never stop. I have to say, holding things in hasn’t helped me any. It’s only wound me up that much tighter.
I’m utterly exhausted. I am now an insomniac. I can’t think of the last time I really slept soundly. My personal best is 4 hours straight without waking up, but most nights I awaken every 2 hours. On particularly troublesome nights, I am up every 45 minutes to an hour. There’s always a time before dawn where I am just wide awake, changing positions restlessly for at least an hour, sometimes 3, trying desperately to fall back asleep. I do somehow manage to have dreams while I’m in these brief slumbers and they run the gamut from fairly happy to dark and disturbing. I don’t think I’ve had a full, undisturbed 8 hours of rest since 2012. Although when I was on Gemzar, I was so tired I felt like I couldn’t keep my eyes open for more than ten minutes. I felt complete exhaustion from the moment I woke up in the morning, like I hadn’t slept for days.
What I wouldn’t give to sleep through the night. At this point, I’m used to looking in the mirror and seeing dark half-moon circles under my eyes and fine lines that never used to be there before. Even when I take an Ativan, I still awaken 2 hours after I close my eyes. I used to be a champion sleeper. I could go 12 hours straight if I wanted to. Sleep has always been an escape for me. When I didn’t feel like facing the world, I could just lay down and be someplace else in my mind. A couple of weeks back, I had a dream that my friend and I were walking in the woods up a very steep grassy hill. We were going towards a light, a sunset so bright and colorful, it could take your breath away. Pinks, oranges, purples and golds all swirled together into this almost blinding light. When we finally reached the top of the hill, we discovered that it was a cliff. At the bottom of this cliff about a mile down, there was an ocean and a road. I tested the ground before us with a stick and it went straight through the earth. She told me she was scared and we held hands. I said to her that I wasn’t ready yet and we slowly walked backwards away from the edge. Then I woke up.
I’m not ready yet…
Cancer can make you do some stupid things. It can completely cloud your judgement. It can lead you back to people and situations that are just as toxic now as they were once upon a time. But you think, “Fuck it, I have cancer. What do I have to lose?” While that initial bout of fearlessness is quite liberating, in the end it will only break your heart. Some things never change, even though you have. You think things will be different now, but they won’t. Everything seems to be just as you left it. Why do we suddenly cling to things we know aren’t good for us when shit hits the fan? Why in moments of intense vulnerability and weakness do we find ourselves complacent to grasp at straws and consume the paltry crumbs carelessly left behind with such fervor? They will never truly satiate us or satisfy even our most basic desires. Why when faced with the prospect of our own mortality are we willing to settle?
This post is for everyone else out there who is currently suffering and staring down the barrel of a gun. Don’t you dare for one minute settle for less than you deserve. Not for anything or anyone. If this is indeed our last hurrah, do we want to go down knowing that we compromised ourselves? That we let our pride and dignity fall by the wayside for a moments pleasure? Or some pathetic attempt at seeking comfort?
My grandmother always used to say it’s better to be alone than in bad company. Remember that there were valid reasons why these people and places disappeared from your lives and being sick doesn’t change any of that, much as we wish it would. Now is not the time to settle, now is the time to revel in the pure and genuine aspects of life. To lean that much harder on those things you know to be true. The things that don’t bend in the breeze. The people who deserve to be in your heart because they’ve earned it. Those who know your worth and never let you forget it for a second. Don’t waste another minute of your time dwelling on things that ultimately aren’t worth a damn. Don’t lose anymore sleep over people who rest comfortably in their beds at night without a thought of you. Trust that there is better, trust that there will be more days in the sun.
I had to pay another visit to the cardiologist this week. My oncologist is looking for someone to tell him exactly how strong of a drug he can use on me without giving me a heart attack (always a good thing to know), so I had a pow wow with a specialist. Prolonged QT syndrome isn’t just some bullshit inconvenience that prevents me from ingesting certain medications, turns out it can occur anytime and it can be fatal. In fact, the cardiologist was so concerned about tracking the rhythms of my heart during my recovery that he decided I needed to be fitted with a recording device. This pen cap sized piece of modern technology knows when my heart is too slow or fast, is experiencing arrhythmia or any other maladies. Yesterday morning they implanted a loop recorder into my chest just under the skin and I was told I would likely need to take beta blockers for the rest of my life. It seems I officially have a heart problem. How, after being perfectly healthy for almost 31 years on this planet with a fully functional heart, did I suddenly end up here? I wonder if this thing can detect heartbreak?
If cancer was a job, I would have given my two weeks notice after my first day. Not that it’s a position anyone in their right mind is vying for, but I am just not cut out for cancer.
I am somehow allergic to every single anti-nausea drug on the market. I am allergic to just about every medication you can think of, (including fucking Benadryl!!), thus landing myself in the E.R. more times than I’d care to remember. It’s like anything that can possibly make chemotherapy the slightest bit easier does not sit well with me. And then there’s the damn chemo itself, which seems to affect me 10 times harder than it would an average person. We’re at the point where it’s unclear what is the best course of treatment for me because I’m “so sensitive.” Jesus.
I’ve been told that I’m “sensitive” my whole life, but usually it’s referring to my personality. Maybe it’s because I become emotionally invested or that I care very deeply about things. Maybe it’s because I’m a worrier and I over analyze everything. Maybe it’s because I cry easily and fall in love hard. Maybe it’s because I’m too nice and trusting. Whatever. I never saw being sensitive as a bad thing, but in this case…being sensitive sincerely sucks!
It’d be nice for once not to have a fucking complication or an unexpected side effect while I’m trying to get through this. It’s bad enough I have to suffer through all of this shit again for a second time for whatever reason, but can’t it be somewhat bearable?! It’s times like this I wish I was anything but sensitive. That I could be a stone cold bitch who feels nothing. But alas, I’m just the same old “sensitive” gal I’ve always been and it ain’t doing me any favors right now.