I load the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry and buy Colin a new white dress shirt
Because I can.
I walk the two blocks between the doctor’s office and the drugstore on a crisp autumn day
Because I can.
I give my children an extra hug, just one more kiss, an additional “I love you” before the bus
Because I can.
But still I worry about today, tomorrow, and the next day.
How can I not?
I put makeup on yesterday.
I can tell it puts people at ease.
If I look “healthy” then they can relax.
If I don’t look sick they won’t have to worry how to act or what to say.
They tell me “You’d never know to look at you. You’d never know you have cancer. You’d never know you’re sick.”
Some moments that’s true. Some moments I feel good. Some days, in fact. And I treasure those.
Some days it’s a lie. It’s not how I feel.
I know it’s a compliment. I take it as such.
The phlebotomist asked me at my oncology appointment yesterday if I’m ready for Thanksgiving.
I wasn’t sure whether to cry or laugh.
I don’t know.
Giving thanks. That’s a loaded phrase.
I am grateful I have some time. I am thankful for the kindness that gets shown to me every day by my family and friends.
I appreciate every person who tells me they are lifted by my words, learn from them, say they express something they have felt or even just wondered about.
For every email I get of support,
Every offer of help,
Every Facebook post, photo, comment
I give thanks.
But cancer sucks. This diagnosis is my nightmare.
But I also know that tragedies happen to people every single day. A life can be lost without warning. I have learned of two sudden deaths of friends’ loved ones this week and I see the pain those losses have caused. I learned it for myself when my mother-in-law died. She did not have time to say her goodbyes.
I don’t like that my life revolves around this disease right now. I try to keep my life focused on others as much as I can. I try to check in on friends who have their own troubles. I try to keep up with the kids. I try to be a good wife and keep the house running. I wish I could be a better wife right now. I try to be strong. I try to suffer on my own time. I try at these things but don’t always accomplish them.
It’s an isolating predicament. Few can know the anguish, the daily trials, all of the parts of my life which don’t get shared with anyone. I share some here, of course, and with friends, but much of it is my own. For now, this is how it needs to be while I continue to process and try to make sense of this new chapter.
Thanks to you all.
I was honored to be featured in this blogpost from the American Cancer Society titled “Cancer survivors are truly remarkable people” which focused on the post I wrote in the days after my diagnosis giving tips on how to talk to children about stage IV cancer.
Many have asked about the fractures on my left side. The one that is painful is the one in a rib up near my collarbone. That will probably take two months to heal. It is a fracture caused by cancer in that bone. The cancer must shrink first. Only then can the bone heal. So it will be a slow process.
I start round 4 of chemo tomorrow, on Thanksgiving night. Same full strength dose because I was able to tolerate the last round again. Same regimen: 7 days on, 7 days off.