Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pulled Back

I've noticed that I've really sort of stepped out of the shadow of cancer. I don't think about it much. I'm busy and active. I don't know when it happened, but it did. I'm glad, because I did not know if I would ever get past all that: Thinking about it. Wondering if the cancer was going to come back. A self consciousness remains about how I look, but I've always been self conscious about how I look, so I'm not all that sure that I can blame that one on cancer.

This is breast cancer awareness month, and my inbox is heavy with requests from businesses who want me to post a link on my blog to their various 'pink ribbon' campaigns. Some of them are downright exploitive, in my mind. Others, well, maybe not so much, but since I'm not, for instance, a NASCAR fan, I would feel kind of stupid posting a link for their initiative. I'm sure there are fans out there who have dealt with this, and will post their link with a lot of enthusiasm and hype, and that is what it deserves. It's a nice little plan to charge five dollars a person to post the names of people who have dealt with breast cancer, and the car will be raced for the month of October. The money will be donated.

In addition to those reminders, I've written next week's column. It's about October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, a brief summation of having life interrupted by breast cancer, but then slowly finding yourself being drawn once again into the current of life.

When I was done with that, I worked a little on those presentations. I've got three of them, each one with an alloted talk time of one hour and 45 minutes. I'm a blabber, don't get me wrong, but man. That's a lot of talking. I went through a few more blog posts.

I also did an interview with another blogger. Her sister died of breast cancer, and she is 'spotlighting' bloggers who have dealt with the issue. Her aim was to remind women of the importance of regular exams.

All this looking back.

You know, for a time, I could not see past the next chemo or the next radiation, and then I went through the phase where I could not see past the next scan or the next test, and now, finally, I'm so busy that I just don't think about these things anymore. Truth be told, the regular appointments make me a little impatient. My complaints are dutifully noted. "Tired?" "Yes." "Rate it." I try to rate it, but there is no scale on the wall, so basically, I'm pulling a number out of my hat. "Pain." "Yes." "Where?" And I list my pains. "Rate the pain," and again, I pull a number out of that hat. It is not addressed really, and I suppose that there is nothing that can be done, not really, but if nothing can be done, what's the point of the visits? To pop in and say hello? To see if I suddenly come up with some symptom that's going to cause the person writing in my record to stop, look at me, and say, "Whoa. We need to look into this." I'm tired. I'm tired when I wake up in the morning. I drink my coffee and I go on with my day. I'm in pain, but I ignore it, or take a naproxin if it's really bad, and go on with my day. How about if I just simply give them a call if something changes? Like if, for instance, I suddenly stop feeling tired, or the bone pain magically goes away? So yeah, I suppose that I'm not really patient about these appointments. I don't see the point to them. I always come out of there feeling a little foolish, like a hypochondriac.

You know what happened while I was wandering around those old blog posts? Yep. I scared myself. Stephanie had a post about prognosis, and add that to all of the looking back I did, I got scared. I wasted an afternoon looking at my old reports. I even went into an online service that offered to calculate your chances of recurrence. I typed in 'aneuploid'. I typed in 'high grade'. I typed in 3.2 cm. Those words are the ones which make me nervous. Those are things that make my odds different, but how much different? I don't know, and suddenly I NEEDED to know. So I typed and typed, answering question after question after question. At the end, I was given 11 reports to read that supposedly applied to me, but in reading through a couple of them, I didn't see how they provided any sort of prognosis at all, and that is what I was there for.

In disgust, I got off the computer. I was disgusted with myself, primarily, I suppose. After all this time of not thinking about cancer, there I was, obsessed. Had to know. I was fearful. Thinking things like, "If I die, I'll have wasted all that money on college." (Seriously. Who in the world thinks things like that? Besides me, I mean. *rolls eyes*) I wasted an entire afternoon, and I went around last night, quiet and pensive. When we went to bed, Tim saw the pile of medical records on my side of the bed. "Why did you have all of that out?" And I tried to explain, but I just ended up feeling foolish, and I wanted to cry. He listened. "You can't think like that," he said, but gently. Patiently. I answered, "I know, but somehow, just reading back on those days. I'd forgotten how scary it was, and suddenly, I was scared all over again." He assured me that college was not a waste of money. I put my records back into the drawer, and closed it, and climbed into bed beside him. He turned off the light and he held me close. Blessedly, I felt it once more: The pull of life's current. It swept me out of that dark, cold place, the place where the water eddied, and carried me around in little circles. I was once again picked up by the life's currents, back to a place where, once more, I began to move on downstream. It was warm, and I floated comfortably.


Kelly said...

And it's funny how often I DO think of cancer, having lost both parents to it by the time I was 17. I just want to get past the age both of them were when they died. One down, one to go.

I'm glad you're moving beyond. Now STAY there and quit getting online looking stuff up! We can go overboard at times! (I'm talking to myself as much as I am you!!)

Nancy said...

I am still pretty much in the phase where I think about cancer a lot. But then I am still in chemo. Starting a blog a couple of weeks ago has certainly helped me to focus on something else that may be of help to others as well. Check it out if you get time. I just stumbled onto yours kind of accidentally and I'll be back. Reading about the experience of others is really helpful. Glad you have moved on from cancer, most of the time anyway it sounds like.

PaintedPromise said...

so very glad you were once again picked up by life's current and are floating comfortably! you deserve it!!!