Last week, while I was at my oncologist’s office, I was told that another patient had passed away. He was a young guy and I remember seeing him during my first few visits for chemo. It is very sobering to be in treatment and to hear other patient’s stories and to also hear of those who have lost their battle with cancer. I know friends who have had and do have cancer. I have heard many, many stories from others, both good and bad. I definitely do not feel alone, but I am still adjusting to the fact that some people make it and some don’t.
After hearing that bad news, I ended up sitting next to another patient during chemo who told me of his experiences with his chemo meds making him severely ill. He was facing 6 months of chemotherapy and was halfway through. To hear his story was upsetting. It also made me realize how fortunate I am that I’m tolerating my chemo drugs so well. I have good days and bad days and am averaging one week of not feeling so great, followed by two weeks of feeling okay. It is a good place to find myself. It is very hard to watch others suffer and know that we really are only separated by a few degrees of reality.
I’m very careful to never lose sight of my gratitude. When I was younger, I definitely didn’t have the perspective I have now. It’s something I’ve worked hard at and have taught myself to look for the good things in every situation in order to not dwell in a bad place. It still happens, but I’m finally able to take a few steps back and tell myself that even bad things happen for a reason. I firmly believe the natural care I’m receiving is making a big difference. I cannot say it enough, there is a whole team behind me, invested in keeping me healthy and alive.I am thankful everyday for them and for the love and support I feel from my local community.
Friends are planning a birthday party/fundraiser for me in a few weeks, since I can’t work for at least 11 more weeks while I’m in chemo. I am humbled and grateful for those who are putting their time and energy into making this happen for me. They say they’re glad I’m still here, in their lives, and I respond by thanking them and telling them I plan on being around for a while. I’ve been trying to imagine what it would be like for me without this unconditional support. I think of those who are not as fortunate and it is heartbreaking, but also serves to remind me of how lucky I am.
I still find it kind of hard to believe that I have cancer. It’s a thing we all talk about and fear will happen and when it does, it’s very surreal. Maybe it’s because I’m handling chemo pretty well or because it just seems too overwhelmingly depressing to accept everything attached to saying, “I have cancer”. I have said those words plenty of times, but it still seems like it’s just something I tell people and not the harsh reality I always thought it could be. Maybe it’s because I’m seeing people every week who are on harsher meds than I am and who are facing harder paths. It makes me feel like I’m going through something not as tragic or upsetting. Maybe I feel like I don’t deserve the same support as they do because I’m not as sick. Maybe I feel guilty for feeling healthy 2 weeks out of every month. Perhaps this will change as time goes on, if I do indeed get more ill as treatment goes on. We will just have to wait and see.
Right now, in this moment, I am focused on staying healthy and never losing sight of how much I appreciate the people in my life who are on this journey with me. I am not dwelling in feeling guilty and am letting depressing moments touch my heart and then go on their way. Toward the end of his life, my dad always said, “You’ve got to keep a positive attitude”. He was dealing with congestive heart failure, complications from diabetes and a slowly deteriorating body. I love that he left me with that message and now that I am finding myself in the hands of healthcare professionals every week I keep those words near and dear to me. It keeps my heart happy and I cannot thank him enough for setting that example for me. Thanks dad. I love you!