Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The temptation

The temptation is to just write about happy endings.
to remain upbeat,
to tell stories of victory, only victory.

The temptation is to say that I'm back to normal,
that life is back to normal,
that everything is the way it used to be, even better.

The temptation is to smile,
to laugh, to tell jokes.

The temptation is to talk about recovery,
good health, doing the best I can to keep kanswer at bay forever.

The reality is that not all endings are happy,
not even my own.

The reality is that I'm not always upbeat;
I wasn't always upbeat before kanswer,
and I'm not always upbeat now.

The reality is that I am still really pissed off about kanswer.
I hate this dreadful disease.
I am angry that it invaded my body, my family, my life.

The reality is that, in my case, the term "remission" doesn't apply.
There is no test that can prove that there are no kanswer cells in my body.
All we can say is that the places where we saw kanswer cells at the time of my diagnosis are gone: surgery took those body parts away.
My body has been permanently altered because of this awful disease.

I still have to go for treatment every three weeks.
It enters my body thru a port in my upper right chest.
It goes directly to my heart.
I have had two ekgs to make sure it isn't doing damage to my heart.
Yes, I can develop heart problems as a result of kanswer treatment.
When I sit there in the treatment room, I am reminded of the horrors of chemotherapy.
I am saddened for and about the many people who will suffer so terribly in the days and weeks that follow treatment.

My fingernails still aren't normal, nor are my toenails. They are still loose at the tips, like they want to separate from my fingertips.
My left big toe still feels numb much of the time and swells after I walk.
The scars on my chest need to be stretched out regularly.
I have to lie on the floor and do exercises to stretch them.
I have to use elastic exercise bands.
Every day. Twice a day.
I stopped for a couple of weeks - thinking "It has been almost five months since surgery. Surely, I'm doing okay now."
Nope. The tightness returned. Back to stretching.
Looks like I'll be doing the stretches for a few months. Perhaps forever.

I take tamoxifen now - a daily pill - and will do so for at least five years.
A daily reminder of long-term possibilities of this terrible disease.
Deciding to take the medication involved a lot of reading, research, thinking, praying, and journaling.
I didn't want to take it. I really didn't want to take it. But I'm taking it.
Hoping, believing, expecting that it will kill of any kanswer cells that may have survived chemotherapy and surgery.
And the reality is that I can take these pills for five or ten years - and kanswer could still come back.
Kanswer sucks, folks. SUCKS!

The temptation is to not share these details.
The temptation is to not talk about how much I think about kanswer.
The temptation is to smooth the edges of my ragged emotions and make everybody else feel comfortable with me.
The temptation is to lose hope, to stay stuck in self-pity, and downplay how difficult it is to live with the reality of being a kanswer survivor.
The temptation is to hide in a bubble of belief:
"I believe that kanswer is behind me.
I believe that it won't come back.
I believe that if I eat well, avoid bad food, exercise, and pray hard enough, then I will be okay.
I believe that if I stop talking about all of this, then the tears won't flow so freely."

I'm glad that I don't easily give it to too many temptations.

Remember the critical voice I mentioned in this post? Well, it's back.
Saying insidiously creepy things like:
"Don't write such a negative piece. People want to read good news."
"Where is your faith? Don't you believe you are healed? You have to believe."
"Just let the kanswer thing go, Gail. Be thankful. Stop thinking about the bad stuff."
"How can you be sad and thankful at the same time? Ditch the former; choose the latter once and for all."
"Don't worry; be happy."


Karmen M. said...

I am so glad that you share it all. It is hard to share the things that we struggle with, because there is that lie that nags, the one that says no one wants to hear it or will understand it. Sharing the struggles means we are human, less than perfect. I find that it is in the sharing of the hard things that true fellowship happens, because our hearts and our souls learn that we are not alone. I love you and I love your honesty. Blessed by your words today.

Lisa said...

I love you. And I'm SO inspired that you chose to share these things. I want to know....every single thing, my friend. It is all held in the sacred space of my heart.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Bock said...

Dear Gail~~

Thank you for being so open and honest in sharing your true feelings. Those of us who experienced cancer know the "subconcious" hold it has on us even after surgery. I too have my moments of "what if" it returns. We are the proof that we have overcome much throughout our journeys and we must continue to look forward each and every day, even when it is most difficult. Gail, I know that what you have endured with your cancer is much more that what I had to deal with as far as pain, healing, etc. I am here to say that YOU have given much to me in your words of Hope and Wisdom. I feel that God has always been there for us and through Him we shall triumph over our cancers. God Bless You My Friend. Many people are in your corner Gail..


Heather Alderman said...

I am profoundly grateful for your honesty - do not give into the voice that says not to share. I think if we could all admit the dark places in our lives we would all be better off. You are an amazing, brave and very real person and in a week that has personally been very dark thank you for your kindness and honesty! Sending you much love, Heather