Not really, half of the time I’m too drugged up to feel anything, but Anchorman was on TV the other night and I’ve had that stuck in my head ever since. Speaking of emotions though, I feel like half of the cancer battle is managing through the tidal waves of emotions. Not just for the cancer fighter, but for everyone around them. As I come out of my drugged state (2+ days without opiates!), I figure I should start working my way through these things.
Note: I don’t like the term “cancer patient.” It seems much to passive for what’s actually happening. I think “cancer fighter” is much more fitting. From my experience, I can tell you every day is a fight – besides the physical, mental, emotional fight, there’s the fight to schedule and coordinate doctors, take back control of your life, raise awareness, plan for the long-term implications of having a cancer diagnosis stamped on your records, etc. Even though it may look like I’m laying on the couch watching mindless TV for days on end (which I am), my body is fighting to heal itself so that I can sit up and walk like a normal person again.
My two most prevalent feelings are frustration and guilt. I’m going to address the guilt first since it’s probably less expected to hear and is a huge reason why I’ve focused more on the clinical aspect of what’s going on with me.
I feel guilty about the strain that my cancer has put on people around me. I’ve never been good about asking for help and I hate feeling like a burden on others. Telling people I love that I have cancer is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ll admit that I wimped out and made my husband actually say the words to my parents. It took me another day to work up the courage to tell my lil sis and grandpa. It wasn’t hard to say that I have cancer – I was honestly thankful to finally have a diagnosis and a game plan – but it was excruciating to hear the pain and tears in their voices. I’ve been grappling with this sense of guilt since the words came out of Dr. Brooks’s mouth – my husband shouldn’t be taking care of a cancer wife only one year into our marriage, my parents shouldn’t have to fly half way across the country to take care of their cancer daughter, my coworkers shouldn’t have to pick up the slack for me being completely unreliable even when I can make it into the office (I probably shouldn’t be handling a many, many million dollar deal while on Percocet anyway), my friends shouldn’t have the dark cloud of cancer hanging over our conversations, etc. I’m getting better with it and it helps that friends and family aren’t in as much shock and the pity eyes are disappearing. I’ve also realized that helping people know what they can do to help – treat me like you always have and raise awareness – makes them feel better about the situation. And don’t be weirded out by my cancer jokes.
This guilt feeds part of my frustration – frustrated that everyone has to deal with this, frustrated with being held hostage in my body, frustrated with the medical system, frustrated with the lack of definitive answers, frustrated that I’ve had to add a full time job of managing my medical care when I’ve always hated going to the doctor, frustrated that everyone on every piece of literature and website is twice my age… more on these later.
I’ve been surprised by the lack of tears. Don’t get me wrong, there have been tears, but mainly sad tears from hearing or seeing the pain in someone else or happy tears from getting a thoughtful or unexpected note. If you ever forget how many people care about you, just tell them you have cancer. I know my friends are awesome, but the support that everyone has shown me has been truly amazing, for which I am eternally grateful.
On a happier note – although it may be premature at this point since I haven’t thought anything through – keep Saturday, January 26, 2013 open. I’m thinking 28th birthday bash / Stupid Cancer and/or Carcinoid Cancer Foundation fundraiser, black and white cocktail party. Theme: Life’s a Celebration, Bitches! Let me know if you have ideas on venue (somewhere in Philly) or any other thoughts.