I did a Facebook post the first time around that just said:
I HATE YOU.
And then when I thought it was behind me forever, I realized that it was only sorta true. That in some strange ways, getting cancer had been a really positive thing for me. I know I even went as far to say, “AS LONG AS I DON’T GET SICK AGAIN [emphasis there], getting cancer was one of the best things that happened to me.” (So, Cancer, all bets are off now. I officially fucking hate you.) I told this to a friend the other night when we were having a
full bottle glass of champagne, and she was like, “Really? I mean, really…? You don’t have to say that, you know.” I guess that does sound all sunshine and flowers and little birds tying flowers in my bald scalp hair, and I’m not really that girl. Not reeeeally. More on that some other time… the sunshine and flowers thing is a whole other post.
On the road I travel at least once, if not twice, a weekday to take the little cubs to school, there is a dead coyote. I’m not sure why nobody has picked it up, but they haven’t. Maybe because it’s really gross. It wasn’t at first, though. The first day, it looked like maybe it was just taking a cute little coyote nappy on the side of the road. The next day, it looked like a pretty stiff snooze. And I’ve seen that damn coyote probably for a month now, slowly decomposing just on the road’s shoulder, looking less and less like any sort of real thing, and more and more like a gray disintegrating hunk of ashy nothing-ness. This morning it occurred to me that is what the cancer is doing to my lungs, slowly rotting out the inside of me. And THAT imagery will probably fuel my next long sleepless night (because yes, in spite of being so hopeful, I do have them… and anyone that meets their own mortality eye-to-eye in that dark alley and says they do NOT have them is lying)… well, it just will. But I will think about these other things too.
Cancer was an integral part of my marriage ending. Maybe more on that some other time. I’m undecided still on how much I am going to comment on that subject. Never in a million years would I recommend doing treatment and a court battle simultaneously (I often referred to the divorce as ‘the other cancer’), but the marriage needed to end, PERIOD. I’m aware that it’s possible that people that share my married name will read this at some point, and I’m long past the point of wanting to be hurtful. I do need to be honest though. I am so intensely thankful that I didn’t have to go through treatment with ‘him’. Somehow that is something good about cancer. I worry that the stress of the divorce is part of why perhaps the initial treatments maybe didn’t work, so now I am just glad that this next go-around I can do it with that whole thing resolved.
Cancer healed my family. My step-mom and I stopped being bitches to each other. (Apparently it healed my grammar a little bit, too, because I *really* wanted to say ‘my step-mom and me’.) Cancer has brought me closer to my dad, and him to my kids, — more than I ever hoped for. That’s good stuff. Cancer taught me what an amazing rock of strength my mom is, not like I didn’t already know but I saw it in action again and again. And my brothers and sister (in-law only technically) – wow. They have stepped up in some incredible ways. I love all this and wouldn’t trade it. My extended family grew and were so loving and supportive. I could go on and on about this but I think it’s starting to sound like an overblown Academy Award speech.
Oh wow. Except I’m going to keep going. Because my friends? And community? Almost (almost) no words. Oh, my sweet sweet girlfriends. I can’t think of Jessica’s Army without tearing up, and I’m not crying a lot these days. (That might be courtesy of preventively bumping up my Effexor, more on that some other time.) What people have done and continue to do for me and my little cubs is an outstanding display of humanity. I think about that… that as hard as it was/is, the opportunity to see that goodness and light in people makes it overall such a positive experience. I’m so grateful my boys were witness to that. I got back in touch with a lot people. That’s a beautiful thing. (Love me some Goldbugs.) And I finally stopped making excuses and just owned that I really REALLY suck at voicemail. Hey, I just can’t do it all. (There’s a lesson there, too.)
Can I just say I love my doctors and nurses and staff? I really do but I can’t wait for the day when I never have to see them again. I’m very grateful though. I hope anyone reading never needs an oncologist or cancer care but if you do, man, do I got the goods.
My hair is growing in a MUCH better texture than it used to be. That right there almost makes the whole damn thing worth it. (Okay, not really… and one thing this taught me is that after ‘no-hair days’ I won’t really be complaining about bad-hair days!)
I asked Cub 1 once if he thought there was anything good about me having cancer, like did he think maybe he would be a better grown-up for it…? He thought for a few minutes, and then he said, “Well… I think maybe it will make me kinder. And more understanding. And probably more helpful too. I think I will know that I can do anything because I will have already had the worst part of my life over. After this, everything will just be looking up!” If my mom is reading this, she is rubbing and knocking wood like a mad woman right now.
And what I’ve learned about myself… the hard lessons that I think I needed. Part of me felt in my bones (not literally and hopefully not ever, because bone metastasis would suck) that I wasn’t done yet because I still had some growing to do. I think that is part of what this blog will be about. Not this post yet, though. But hey! Cancer! Do you hear me? I am getting it. You can back the fuck off now.
What’s the lesson here? That is the point, right? My tagline is “LESSONS from a cancer-fighting momma bear”, not “RANDOM RAMBLINGS…” I guess it’s this. It’s time for me to walk my talk. For years, I’ve ‘preached’ that it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it. When I was a juvenile caseworker, I would play this card game with the teen crimlets in my group. I’d deal them cards, and then there would be a legend to tell them what each card meant, representing different life experiences. (I think one was ‘you have cancer’… ewww) The point I made then all those years ago is my lesson now. Yes, I got dealt a hand that I sure wouldn’t have picked. I can take it, though, accept it, and do something positive with it, or I can choose a whole array of other less helpful options (which, truthfully, I have considered, drinking myself comatose holding the highest appeal).
Do you know who I really dig? Viktor Frankl. If you’re not familiar with who he is, go google him now. Seriously. Right now. His quotes will probably make a regular appearance here. I dedicate this one to you, idiot dummy-head cancer: (Cub 2’s favorite insult, by the way)
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
So, hey cancer? FUCK YOU.