You know, it's a weird time. I flipped over to Daria's blog, and much to my shock, she's now unable to blog. I mean, just last week, she was blogging. I knew that she was having some difficulties, but she was functioning. She was living. This week, they're making hospice arrangements.
I feel a shiver of fear as I read her blog. The thing is, I go to school. I study. I work. I blog. I'm busy. I'm doing things. I'm alive. And I take comfort in the fact that I am doing all these things. Obviously, I'm not sick, or else I couldn't do these things, right? But last week, Daria was having troubles but marching right on, and then it all changed. The sheer speed with which circumstances can change frightens me, and then I get stupid. I find myself thinking, "I can't take the shrink wrap off my text books until I know for sure how things are going to work out at Tuesday's appointment. That way, I can return the books to the campus bookstore for full credit if things turn out badly." What kind of dip wad thinks like that?
The answer is me. I do.
It's not just me, even though I feel very alone sometimes. A friend was going to meet me at the cafeteria. I waited, but she didn't show. She called that night to apologize, and to tell me that she was taking the semester off. She's coming up on her third year. She's triple negative, and her understanding of things is that her cancer will likely come back, usually within three years, but if she can make it to five years, it probably won't be back. She's already had it twice. She's looking at this three year mark, and finds herself feeling superstitious and afraid. She tried to explain it to yet another friend who'd had cancer, and he said, "I know how it is. I got so afraid that I cried at work the other day." After much thought, she just decided to take a semester off, to pull herself together. So, no. I know it is not just me who gets scared.
The fear is there, and it is real. Everywhere I've looked, post treatment fear is normal, but I have to say, around here, it's not really addressed. No tips for coping with the fear. I just get the notion that I'm not supposed to be afraid. I was at work before Christmas. I saw a doctor in my check out line. I said to him, "Hi, Dr. ---- and his response was a mock shocked look. "You're still here?!!! Why, I'm shocked." I was speechless really. I didn't even respond, although my mind was whirling. What? I'm supposed to be embarrassed because I found another lump and insisted it be biopsied? I'm supposed to be embarrassed because I am trying to be vigilent? He'd told me in his office once, "What are you so afraid of? If anything, you were over treated." I stared at him. What does that mean? People are treated for cancer every day. The plain and simple fact is that it does come back sometimes. Trying to remember, I probably was asking him for numbers, for odds. Mary had just been diagnosed a second time, and her news had rattled my cage. I don't know for sure, but I know whatever was going on that day, I was afraid, and I had questions, and I walked out of there feeling like a big dummy. I walked out of there feeling ashamed of my fear. So what did the doctor mean by his comment? I don't know. I was afraid to ask.
I remember once talking to my regular doctor, and he asked how things were going and I said good, but then admitted that sometimes in the dark, I got scared. He said, "Well, of course you do." I'm telling you true, I got tears in my eyes, to hear that what I was feeling was normal.
I've been thinking about this a lot. About the fear. I deal with a lot of pain. It's pretty much constant. Sometimes, not so bad. Other times, it's horrible. I guess it's exacerbated by the cold. I don't know. All I know is that it is hard to be optimistic and positive when I feel like crap a great deal of the time. So sometimes I do get scared. Cancer is all around me, and every time I turn around, it seems like someone else has been diagnosed. Every time I hear of someone new, there is that prickle of fear. I've lost friends this year. Each time, there was a prickle of fear. Is this unrealistic? No. I really don't think so.
I'm a pragmatic person. I tend to look at things squarely. It is what it is. So what is it? Well. I'm 53 years old. I've had cancer. I'm trying to manage chronic pain. Perhaps it is just the weariness of dealing with that pain that makes me so tired. I don't know. It does seem that it has gotten worse. It is what it is, but I don't know what it is, not really, so sometimes I get afraid in the dark.
There. I've said it out loud. I'll say it again. Sometimes I get afraid in the dark. But every morning, I get up. I go out the door, and I do what needs doing. I guess that I'm a brave coward. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm heartily sick and tired of feeling like a jackass because sometimes I get afraid in the dark.