Sunday, October 18, 2009

Days of chemotherapy

I always have a roommate when I go to the Cancer Center for treatment. There are far too many people in this unwanted “club”.  As much as I don’t want my cancer to define the moment or even be a part of the conversation, it takes over too much. It is in my way. It is in everyone’s way. I simply want to have a “normal” day, a good conversation that I don’t struggle to put my thoughts together, good times with friends, to be able to play and rough house with my boys…simply…to live.

I struggle to form complete thoughts but those around me understand. It's easier to write than it is to hold a conversation.  A good evening of laughter and company is what I crave now. My personality is fogged by my treatments, but those around me take over in doing the things I normally would, trying to hide the additional stress it adds to their day.  My husband and my young boys take over the chores of the house and express that they now have an appreciation for the things I quietly do behind the scenes.  I feel a pain of guilt that my children must learn such responsibilities so early, but they seem to show pride in learning new skills.

It is ironic that the journey of my cancer and treatments parallel the seasons that come outside.  It is the beginning of fall and the leaves are dry and fall to the ground.  The color of the grass has faded and flowers have stopped blooming.  My skin is thin and dry. My hair has been gone long enough that I’m used to it being gone now. My hands are in constant pain and my finger tips feel as though they have been smashed by a hammer. My nails are yellow and brittle and starting to peel away from my fingers. My eyes are dry and my nose bleeds. If this is the outside of my body, what is it like on the inside? I run out of breath easily and my heart pounds with a simple walk. I feel pain in my chest all the time now. The doctor says she can’t feel the solid tumor anymore, but I feel the ache and the pain it leaves in its place. My breast tissue is deformed as my tumor softens and shrinks in size.  My doctors measure me at each appointment and seem overwhelmed and shocked that the chemotherapy seems to be working better than expected.

I continue to go in for chemotherapy each week and it does a number on me. I feel anxious and in a tired fog much of the time. I feel as if I’ve had too much coffee when I’ve had none for months. I go so many nights without sleep. I forget which day of the week it is as darkness changes to dawn. Dehydration is a constant battle. Complaining is not my way, but sometimes I just do. These are the realities of treatment. When I voice these issues, I find I am not alone. My symptoms are what’s “normal” to expect. I find relief in knowing nothing is unusual.  Yet, each of my room mates during my treatments seem to struggle in different ways. 

I’m tired and feeling a lot of pain, but I just want a “normal” evening of hanging out. I just can’t find a way to be myself. My mind is scattered and tired. I struggle with conversation much of the time anymore. I’m lost. My husband is still with me though. Sometimes I wonder how I deserve this care. I couldn’t be in better hands. My soul is at peace knowing my love is being returned. He is my best friend and accepts me even as I fall apart. Can a friend do anything more giving than that? I realize that fact and feel moved. I am lucky.  I have sat in waiting rooms and listened to other women share in sadness how their marriages did not survive their cancer.   I see who is by my side through this journey every step of the way. I am surrounded by the love, care and understanding of my family and friends. They in fact are the “unsung” on this long road with me. They do without complaint or obligation. Cancer may take the body of one person, but it takes the souls of everyone surrounding it. It is all consuming at times. Fighting this “battle” as they say has become my “job”. Going to chemotherapy has been my weekly existence. Others continue to remain positive around me encouraging me that it will be over soon.  I try not to count how many more treatments I have.  One more done, one more to go is the easier mind set.  

I walk into treatment without dread focussing on the friendships I have made at the hospital.  I look for ways to laugh and use my humor to cope.  I see many roommates during my sessions that are there alone. It is quiet and long to suffer through those sessions alone. Having a loving presence at my sessions weekly is the greatest gift I could receive.
Ironically, it has become a place I will miss. Not the treatments or tests, but rather the people who have cared for me so much. Though it is their job, the ones that really care about what they do and the people they care for make a difference. It could be such a lonely and cold ordeal without the people that take the time to help you think of something else.  I began my journey by walking into the hospital feeling beautiful.  I had my hair, my complexion, my energy, my smile.  These people have seen me melt away, but do not offer me the pity I do not want. 

I look at each day and I don’t want to waste a moment. I’ve always felt that way, but the feeling is more urgent now. I cherish each day and I struggle to rest when the day is not full. I know rest and quiet are just as important though, especially to those around me like those that care for me everyday. I need to allow those around me to have space and rest.

My oldest son asked to climb in bed with me last night. This time it is not my youngest asking to “snuggle with Mom”. He falls fast asleep quickly. He is peaceful and secure. And even at 9, he still needs his mom simply to be there.

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget