Whether to write this blog has been part of a family discussion over the past week. I wasn’t sure how public I wanted to make this personal information because part of this story involves my close family and loved ones. They needed to be okay with it. They are.
I wasn’t sure I was okay with it either..we were absorbing a lot of overwhelming information and emotions as a family.
We still are.
As a kid I never got picked for teams, I wasn’t athletically inclined or very popular for that matter. I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Looking back on that with thanks, imagine my surprise when I got picked for the *C* team.
You see in the span of three days I went from being a fit healthy 53 year old woman with no symptoms or health problems, taking no medication, normal colon screens and perfect blood profile, and x-rays, re-taken several times, even on the day of my surgery– to a cancer patient. BAM! The medical team in shock at what they found.
I had presented the week earlier with stomach pain and nausea, I tested positive and was treated for an intestinal bug which was cleared, I felt better. On Feb 13, mid- day, I became ill with stomach pain and nausea once again, attending emergency.
My body was still speaking. Loudly!
On February 15, with all other tests normal, the surgeon ordered a CT scan revealing I had an obstruction believed to be caused by scar tissue from a previous surgery; my surgery happened that evening. When the surgeon told me he removed a tumor (cancer) from my colon.. more pathology to come, he did biopsies of my liver and stomach, I said I was in disbelief, he said, me too.
Me and my family all felt angry, helpless. We cried and yelled, we were pissed and heartbroken. My youngest announced that “the Universe could fuck off right about now”. He had lost a close friend just days earlier.
We have also had some awesome laughs…we are choosing joy and love daily. One. Day. At. A. Time.
Initially, I felt guilty, like an epic failure. Like I had in some way ruined all our lives.
There is guilt attached to a cancer diagnosis…oh honey… there sure is. I’m over that.
I’m thankful for almost everything that’s happened in my life, because those experiences, even the more devastating ones, taught me a lot. There are a few lessons I would happily give back, a couple of things I’d really rather not know. But we don’t get to choose those.
You will never see a blog from me or hear me say in some delusional euphoric state that this disease is a gift or a blessing because I have been around it enough to know it is a tenacious ruthless bitch.
But here’s the deal…. so am I, when I have to be.
I do not plan to give it much power. It doesn’t deserve any.
“Why me?” is not a useful question for me, there is nothing productive in ruminating trying to make sense of the why. Seriously, some things will never, ever, ever make sense. Some things will never be okay or the same. Some things you just carry on with. One way or another, I am going to move forward and rise to the occasion because I don’t know how to do anything else.
Awful things happen to people all the time. I don’t believe the universal bullshit stories that we “ cause” illness, or the religious doctrine of punishment, or that anyone “ deserves” their illness. I have heard it all in the past two weeks, from the [desperate to say something] “death bed” wishes of “prayer and thoughts” to “everything happening for a reason”. Some people just don’t know what to say, and that’s okay– maybe just say that? This kind of unexpected news scares the shit out of people and reminds them of their own morality. I get it!
Firstly, I don’t feel sorry for myself, so please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t find the “you poor thing” sympathy messages helpful and I do not welcome them, so please refrain. I am not on my death bed or a walking dead woman. I don’t believe in the “everything happens for a reason” meme.
I don’t constantly think about my diagnosis, some days I have to remind myself of it. Other days I just can’t imagine going through chemotherapy.
It doesn’t really matter. It’s happening.
The question is, what I’m going to do about it.
A friend sent me this…
One thing I can say with certainty is that the human soul and body is resilient. I believe in my body’s ability to heal. We are all a lot stronger than we realize. And most of us, given the choice, are going to choose to live, even when it’s hard.
I am one of those people.
Secondly, I feel extremely fucking lucky, I am young, healthy and full of energy and dreams. I have shit to do.
I know I am cherished, adored and loved deeply. My amazing King and family and true friends have rallied around me with constant positive and productive support. My corporate boss is kind, supportive and exudes grace. The calls and emails from friends remind me how strong, happy and determined I am. They remind me that I will make this disease my bitch..those close to me know that about me, and that’s reason enough to face this path head on. We don’t get to choose what’s put in front of us, but we get to decide what we’re going to do with it.
I cannot and will not live in a world of resentment and anger. I don’t know how to do that.
Besides, who with any certainty can say their tomorrow is promised, a sure thing. No one.
All I can do is rise up, to push through. I plan to dig deep and figure it out one day at a time. Trust myself and my body. I am going to fall down and have really bleak days during treatment… I know that whether it’s happening according to some big Universal plan, or it isn’t, I’m going to strengthen and open up to it all– either way, what will be will be.
My initial plan is to blog about this detour, I don’t see this as a journey or a sojourn, it’s one of those really crazy detours that takes you very far off course from your intended destination. I have no idea what this will look like or the words that will fall onto the page. I promise two things no artificial happiness and no steady diet of doom and gloom. It will be tricky to decide what is share worthy. I trust I will know when the time comes. I am practicing “not knowing” as my inspiration Jen Postiloff calls it.
If any of you beautiful diamonds have your own story, I would love to hear from you. Our stories connect us. You can post in the reply or email me at email@example.com
One day at a time, because that is all there is.
Positive support and messages of joy are definitely welcome, anything else not so much…oh and by the way– Fuck you cancer!