Timing is a bitch. We can meet the perfect person for us, at the completely wrong time. We can get sick at the completely wrong time. Our cars can break down at the completely wrong time. Bad things can happen at the completely wrong time. But you know what’s worse than bad timing? Waiting. Set backs. This is such an overlooked part of our cancer journeys, which can leave you an emotional wreck. Traumatic events in our lives leave scars, physical and emotional scars, but sometimes it’s in the silent hours that we are really able to see our scars. And I think our scars are what ultimately keep us going.
Often during chemo, your white blood cells go so low and you become Neutropenic, and you have to stop chemo, and take shots to boost them up, until you can continue again. No, not fireball shots (I wish. I had one last week though, sorry doc!) Neuopogen shots in your belly. It can take days, even weeks, to get your counts back up. This is what makes your heart stop, when your doctor tells you that you have to hold off on chemo. Every cancer patient literally counts the day of each cycle and when it will be over with. My chemo is really strong, so my WBC’s always get crazy low. My life during chemo revolves around being Neutropenic, but my doctor says f*ck it, and let’s the nurses continue to blast me with chemo, because he wants that cancer O-U-T and so do I, see ya! In radiation, thrombocytopenia (Look at those big words I’m learning, Dr. M! I should totally be an Oncology drug rep. Then maybe I’ll be able to marry an Oncologist!) is a delay that I am currently facing. My platelet counts are way too low to continue radiation, since the radiation blasted the crap out of me. Continuing treatment with low platelets can cause internal bleeding, as well as external bleeding. I pretty much reached the half way point of radiation hell, and had to stop because my platelets are too low. So, I go and get my blood tested every other day, cry when they tell me to go home because the platelets are too low, call my mom and sob, and repeat. Mainly because I’m so over this and just want it done. I think I’m the only psycho patient who actually wants blood infusions.
The waiting part and the set backs until you can begin treatment are by far one of the worst parts of the whole process. They force you to take everything in. When you’re in treatment, you’re either so sick, sleeping, so busy at the cancer center and so focused on getting this crap over with, that you don’t really have time to think and let your scars set in. Over the weekend, I was able to go out with my friends and be normal. I completely forgot how sick I actually am, until I woke up the next morning. It’s so easy to get upset during the setbacks. You think of all of the hell that you have been through, and it honestly makes you second guess if you can actually make it through. Hell. Literally hell. Being cut open, burned, and poisoned = hell. Like, you actually think about how much hell you have been through physically and emotionally, and no one really truly gets it, unless they’ve been there themselves, or have been a caregiver to someone with cancer. They just don’t get it. Your nurses however, totally get it. Your doctors, I’m not so sure! They just want to treat you. So I hope all of my favorite residents are reading this, so that you know what it feels like to be in the patient’s shoes, you don’t learn that in med school. You learn it from your annoying patient who bugs you every day at Sylvester! Ha! Your friends and family always mean well, but there is nothing and I repeat nothing more annoying than people telling you to be strong. There comes a point when you’ve been so strong for so long, that you just break. Let me be weak. It’s okay to be weak. This is what I love about my mom. She never tells me to be strong. Ever. Not once has she told me to be strong, because she knows I’m strong. She reminds me where I have been and how far I’ve come, and that I have a plan, and it could always be so much worse. Always be so much worse.
I think our scars, the pain, how messed up these types of situations get us are, are what really keep us going. All of the setbacks, all of the side effects, all of the bullshit that we deal with on a daily basis, our baggage. As many times as you want to give up, at the end of the day when you’re sitting on your couch crying because you relapsed, or you can’t get your treatment and have to hold off, it just shows you how much crap that you have been through, and makes you step up. And I think one of the most amazing parts of this journey is that yes, you have a support system, but at the end of the day, YOU are the one who has to deal with everything. So many women in my generation and men rely on the opposite sex to “complete” them. It almost makes me feel sorry in a way for these people..because in life, at the end of the day, you have to learn to be complete on your OWN, and not be defined by another person. Cancer forces you to be complete on your own, and be able to pick up your OWN broken pieces. And carry on. Having someone on top of this, is just a bonus. That’s the point of the scars, they keep you going. They show you that once you’ve been through hell, life will be a breeze. It has to be.
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