A few months ago I read The C Word, by Lisa Lynch. I’ve been following her blog for ages and I also follow her on Twitter. All in all, I feel like I know this wonderful woman, despite having never met, and having never had any interaction with her apart from Lisa sometimes replying to my tweets (I still get starstruck every time, because I’m a doofus).
She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 28. In reading her book and her blog, I identified so much with her, and she’s been a real inspiration for how to make it through ‘The Bullshit’ (as she calls it) with grace and with humour (and the odd tantrum here and there). And, more importantly, how to live life once all the needles, scans, tests, and hospital appointments begin to wane. I know she’d be proud that I’ve titled this post “My Hero” after a fabulous Foo Fighters track, because, the self-confessed doofus she also is, she’s a massive Dave Grohl fan and secretly wants to marry him (if she didn’t already have the most wonderful husband in the word. Second to mine of course).
This is why it was absolutely devastating to read this post from her telling her readers that her cancer had come back. In her bones. Stage 4 and incurable (but manageable). She’s been given years, not months (thankfully). Despite this, she doesn’t wallow around in self-pity, and apologises to everyone for lumping them with the shitty news. And asks that you support her family, not herself, through this difficult time.
So why am I the one currently feeling sorry for my self and feel like I’m stuck in an awful rut I can’t get out of? I wish I could be more like her.
Maybe it’s because on top of Lisa’s news (geez it sounds like I’m taking it worse than she did, which is probably the truth), I was told last weekend that a family friend who’s been battling breast cancer was in hospital with a brain tumour. And another beautiful woman who was having chemo and radiation at the same time as me, sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago. My heart goes out to all of these gorgeous women and their families, who are clearly in an exponentially worse, more devastating, situation than me. I don’t know how they all cope. Right now I don’t feel like I’m coping very well with it all, which makes me feel like a right self-absorbed bitch.
It’s easy to ‘stay positive’ (if you know me at all you’ll know I hate that damn phrase), when you’re surrounded by the success stories -which has been the case for most of the past 14 months, but right now the balance is swinging the other way.
It’s also difficult to watch everyone else able to move on with their lives. Making plans, travelling the world, having babies, living carefree lives. Meanwhile I’m tied to the health system to get my monthly goddamn awful Zoladex injections for the next 2 years and am having to contend with hot flushes and general moodiness (well my husband is contending with it, more like). I can’t go anywhere for longer than a month, and I can’t have kids while I’m on the hormone therapy. Even if we could, we might not choose to have them right now anyway, but that’s not the point. The point is, the choice has been taken from me. And that’s the bitch that is cancer. It takes things from you. Your breast(s), your hair, your figure (still haven’t managed to shed the 5 kgs I put on during chemo), your choices. Potentially your fertility too. We won’t know that until we try though.
This post, in response to Lisa’s awful news, sums it up. Cancer likes to say NO to you. If you’re a Kiwi like me, it might go something like this:
You want to have a baby right now?
You want to go to Europe for 3 months?
You want to spend just 1 day not thinking about this bitch?
You want to be whole-heartedly and without doubt, happy and excited when your friends share their fantastic baby news with you?
It’s not that I’m not happy and excited for others, I am. But behind closed doors, it is difficult. And it seems the closer the news-bearer is to me, the harder it is. It pisses me off like nothing else. How dear this stupid disease diminish my excitement for others’ great news. What makes it worse, is I’m terrible at talking about my feelings (hence the blog), so I just try my best to disguise the pain and hope it will go away. Unfortunately, this is not really the best way to deal with such things. Nothing helps like talking about it, so that’s what I will just have to do, even if I’m not very good at it.
PS. You should buy Lisa’s book. It is excellent. Read it and you’ll really understand what the journey is like for young women with far better things to do than fight cancer.
PPS. The yeah…nah was meant to make you laugh. Don’t feel bad if you did (or didn’t)