a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

Math Attacks

Posted by wendy on 2011/12/20

We anthropomorphize cancer around these parts alot–actually, I guess nearly everyone does, don’t they?  We write it angry letters and we say “kick its ass!”.  I think we have to humanize it a little, because when you stop and think about the fact that it’s just…cells gone wrong (Cell Gone Bad!) , division gone wild and malignant (When Math Attacks!)–it’s too depressing. Cancer is our own bodies turning against us, and who can blame anyone for turning it into some sort of entity that’s crept into our lives with evil intent?  It’s easier to visualize a fight if the thing you’re fighting is actually…you know…fighting YOU.  Otherwise, you’re just throwing punches at thin air.  Putting googly eyes on your IV bags just seems silly at that point.

I’ve been punching thin air for the last week.  I saw my oncologist for my 3 month check up and while I was driving home from the appointment, her office called because my liver enzymes were elevated and she wanted to schedule an ultrasound.  She said it could be the tamoxifen, but of course, we had to be certain.  I had the ultrasound yesterday morning and I got the results this afternoon (Normal!  Normal!).  I’ve been walking around on this thin edge of terror for the past week.  Trying to verbalize it was nearly impossible for me.  It wasn’t fair.  IT WASN’T FAIR.  I just finished my fight, you know?  The idea that I may have to step back into the ring was so overwhelmingly depressing that I felt like I could barely function.  It didn’t hit me til the call this afternoon how deeply upset I was.  I hadn’t cried or really had any sort of breakdown until the nurse called today and told me my liver was perfectly normal and they’d see me in March.  I went into the bathroom at work and immediately had a nice little ‘come-apart’, as we say here in the Deep South.  I texted M immediately, as he’s been sitting with me on those pins and needles (and how wonderful and lucky I feel to know that I have him to lean on when I need it) for the last week.  He called me back right away and we had a nice little giddy moment together.  Relief.  Relief and love.  We have plans, he and I.  We both have to be alive in order to carry them out, though.

Normal.  I’ve always said it was subjective.  My new normal more or less means that every little abnormality is going to raise a red flag and every single google search for that red  flag + breast cancer will lead me down roads that I want to avoid at all costs.

It’s not fair.  It’s not–but, I need to  remember to accept what happens to me.  Fair or not, I cannot always control what happens to me–but I can control my reactions.  I’m trying  for that grace…that acceptance I found early on with my first diagnosis.  I guess I am expecting too much out of myself.  I feel like I failed my first false alarm.  But, I also passed–cause HURRAH for normal test results!

Cancer may eventually be the thing that gets me in the end, but I’m going to make every effort to make sure that cancer does not HAVE me while I am in this world.  It’s harder some weeks than others, that is for certain.

This next week will be fully of Christmas things, and then the week after will be a Very Special Week that I will talk about later.  I’m lucky.  I am so lucky.

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, Merry Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas–Happy Holidays no matter what you’re celebrating this time of year.  I hope 2012 brings good things to all of us.

4 Responses to “Math Attacks”

  1. Sarah said

    Normal never looked so fucking good. So much love for you, woman. xoxo

  2. Lauren said

    girl, I hate hiccups, good for you on the bombay for chasing them away…it takes a while to trust the ice again…I don’t know that I am there either.

  3. love this! i’m so with you. big time. my mama always said life isn’t fair, and man, she was right. she’d also say HURRAY for normal tests!

  4. FireRose said

    I just started reading your blog and with this post found instant resonance. I don’t have cancer, have never had cancer (pay to all that’s holy that cancer is one thing I never have to deal with), but I DO have my own diseases to fight – the easiest to describe is depression. The hardest? Well, let’s just say I never have to worry about what I eat anymore – starvation sux (especially when I can pound double quarter-pounders like water). I’ve fought depression for most of my life and it was only after getting GOOD treatment that I was able to effectively combat it, not just hold my own in the war. Yeah, I anthropomorphize my illnesses. Depression is this evil, soul-stealing, anvil in my head. But I know his face now. I can fight it. It’s NOT ME!! It may be inside of me, or a part of me – but it is NOT ME. Depression is a guerrilla fighter…. it lays in wait for those days when everything is going good, the sun is shining – life is GREAT – and then he strikes. But I have learned how to spot him in the grass of my mind. Sometimes it is hard – that is why I have Gumby standing watch with me, but as soon as he is discovered – the fight begins anew. There is no shame – just a determination to not let that bastard steal anymore of my life from me.

    The other one – I haven’t learned it’s face yet. It crops up in different ways each time. The signs change often – once it might be that my pants are too loose. But another time, it’s that all my pants are too tight. I’ve ended up in the hospital so often, I’ve made sure to carry my advance directives with me when I travel. My daughter freaks out if I have to go to the ER – even if it is because of arthritis issues or earaches… That one is going to kill me – the question is when and how I will live to that day. I am constantly aware of my disease (whatever the hell it is). My whole family is constantly aware – if I fail to eat for over 2 hours, Gumby gets stressed. We even have our own code language for it – I often “need a cookie”. This is the first time in 4 years that I haven’t been visiting the docs every 2 weeks – or inpatient – as Jan rolls around. Part of me is elated – part of me is terrified. I look in the mirror and weep – I look like a caricature of a woman most days. I know that I am one blood draw away from crying for hours – wondering what I could have done differently to avert this.

    But then…… I finish falling apart. I remind myself that this damn disease is NOT going to define me. It is NOT going to beat me. I WILL enjoy life. I WILL follow dreams that I am just finding – that bastard depression stole enough years from me – this disease won’t steal any more.

    I know the pins and needles while waiting for blood work to come back. 8 enlarged lymph nodes for over 9 months – can we say terror? I STILL feel my armpits to make sure they are gone – and that was 3 years ago. Be terrified if there is a hiccup. Turn to M and cry or cuddle, or whatever you need to do until the results come back in. And then pick up your superwoman cape, dust it off – and KEEP LIVING! It’s the best way to show cancer who is the boss!

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