Warning: Post lacking in jokes and funniness ahead.
I ran into a friend last week who I haven’t seen since I stopped working and who is going through her own version of this nightmare. We chatted for a few minutes having an impromptu “Cancer Club” meeting and it felt incredibly refreshing to talk candidly with someone who really understood. Immediately after a big hug we talked about our own personal situations and right away it felt as though we removed the masks that we normally wear.
It got me to thinking because I am always excited to see friends and family and get an opportunity to socialize but I also spend a lot of time assuring and convincing others that I’m OK. As time goes on I recognize that it happens often and I think, for the most part, that I work hard at wearing my happy and positive mask for 2 main reasons:
- To reassure people who may think the worst when they hear someone has cancer and has to go through treatment like surgery, chemo, radiation etc.
- For myself because the last thing I want is for people to think of me as sick, weak or “less than”.
I honestly don’t mind doing it because the positive things I say are true but talking with my friend not only made me realize how much of a mask we put on but, how refreshing it feels to take it off. When I took the mask off and had a chance to be real with someone who was feeling all the same things that I was, it was a relief. I didn’t have to put on a brave face, I could say ugly things and I knew when I said them that she would know exactly what I meant because she was feeling the same way.
I come here and post with the intention of keeping family and friends updated and potentially for other women who might be starting down the breast cancer road looking for insight on what to expect. I post because back in March any time I went looking online I found nothing but negativity and complications associated with surgeries, treatments and drugs. The internet was a black hole of bad experiences, how awful everyone felt and I wanted to post something different. I wanted to show that not every experience was bad and that you can find positives or funny moments even in a tough time, but in doing so I have left out a lot of the less pretty and very real stuff that is also inevitable. It would be a disservice to those that I love and to anyone I don’t know that reads this who is embarking on their own (word other than journey) to not have an injection of ugly honesty. So here it is, all in one shot.
The last 6 months have sucked. I can make myself crazy sometimes wondering why this happened to me when there’s no good, logical reason. Not working feels like losing part of my identity and like I have very little purpose. I sit on the edge of my bed and cry anytime I have to go to something social that requires me to wear real clothes. I don’t hate my body but I hate what cancer and the subsequent treatment has done to it. On my best days I really only feel about 70% well and on not so good days I feel far worse. I get tired and winded doing things I have always done and it is beyond frustrating. On top of worrying about health issues, unfortunately a lot of time is also spent worrying about finances. All emotions simmer closer to the surface than ever before, I could laugh, cry or yell at the drop of a hat and I know that makes me hard to live with (my apologies to Tasha). Always quietly lurking at the back of my mind is a little voice saying, “what if this isn’t enough. What if it comes back.”
There it is, not all of it but a good representation of ugly and honest and real.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming of jokes and general silliness.