How are you feeling?

So, I hear the following things a lot. I love my family and friends, and all of your incredible support. Here is what I usually say, and then here is what goes on inside my head.

How are you feeling?

-I’m okay, thanks! (Actually I feel like absolute hell. It’s all I can do to keep my eyes open right now, and I gagged from nausea half the drive to work. I choked down some crackers to keep my stomach from being empty, but my mouth is so dry from the chemo that I then had to choke down some water to get it to go down my throat. When I move, my chest constricts and it makes me more nauseous. It’ll get better in about a week, then it’ll come back in full force after the next treatment. The doctor says it is chemo-induced tachycardia. Basically abnormally high heart rate due to the Anthracycline med I am currently receiving. I’m hopeful it will go away permanently after I complete my last treatment, but chemo can cause permanent damage for some people.)

You look really good!

– Aw, thanks. (I saw myself in the mirror this morning- my eyes are sunk in from exhaustion because my body hurt so bad last night I could barely sleep, I’ve gotten a lot of little dark spots on my skin from the meds that make my skin more sensitive to the sun, and the dehydration is making my skin look like leather. Old worn out leather. I have bruises all over my body from the slightest little bumps. I even have bruises on my elbow from resting on them when I am at my desk 😦 Oh, and I feel like hell.)

I like your head cover!

– Aw, thanks! (My head itches under this fricking thing, but I don’t dare take it off because the scrappy bits of hair that are left are creepy and my head is white from never being exposed to the sun. And I don’t dare go without sunscreen when I’m outside at home because I don’t think I can take anymore pain on my scalp if I end up with a sunburn. My ears hurt from where the bandana is tied around my head, and at the end of the day, my scalp hurts from having the little bits of hair that are left being scrunched underneath it. Everyone looks at the bandana. Some stare. It’s the universal sign that means “cancer here”, I think. )

You look like you’re losing weight!

– Yeah, a little. (I’ve actually lost 12 pounds so far, but it goes up and down a couple pounds each week as I get so sick I can hardly eat for a few days, and dehydrate from not being able to even choke down enough water, then I rebound by a few pounds a few days before my next chemo. Then the cycle starts all over and I lose 5 or more pounds the next week. It goes down farther with each treatment. I would have loved to have lost weight back when I was running 2-4 miles a day and eating healthy and eating less – you know back when I didn’t lose any weight at all?! And then when I had to stop running for a few months because of my asthma and hip problems and I gained 6 pounds more than I weighed when I started running again? Yeah, it would have been really nice to lose weight back then when I was doing things the right way. To lose it now means that the doctor tells me to be careful not to lose too much because my body can’t fight back as well, and last time my white blood cell count was low, which could mean that I may have to delay treatment if it gets too bad. Also, losing weight from feeling like you’re so sick you’re dying- not a big feeling of accomplishment. 😦 )

You’re smiling, that’s good to see!

– Yeah, I’m doing my best to stay positive. (I lay awake at nights a lot. Praying that God will at least spare me for my kids- I can’t imagine what life would be like for them and Tim if I don’t survive this. I have to remind myself that I have a very good chance of being cured. But… What if it comes back? What if I go through all this misery and the surgery and all that, and a few years down the line when I think I have my life back, it comes back? Will I ever be free of this worry? Will my family be ok financially? Emotionally? What if I never see my babies grow up? I usually cry for a bit then remind myself of all the people I know who have survived this. Then I think of the people I know who didn’t, and my heart pounds and I flip and flop for a while. Then I quickly go back to those people who DID survive, and I eventually fall back asleep amid reminders that I really need to document a whole lot of things about insurance policies, and retirement accounts, and bills that I pay each month… just in case. But, yeah, I try to keep a smile on my face when I’m feeling well enough because life’s too short not to, you know?)

You’re so strong and brave!

-Thanks! I have to be. (Really. Literally. I have. no. choice. I didn’t just decide one day that I would be brave or strong. It’s just that there’s no other way I can be. This is my life now. I’m just trying to really hang on to it.)

Did you see what I posted on Facebook?

-Not sure, which post? I’ve been pretty busy. (Actually, not only have I been pretty busy trying not to vomit and fall asleep from exhaustion while sitting up, what is important in life has completely changed once I was diagnosed with cancer. Oh, that and I really hate most of the self-inflicted drama on Facebook. If you posted a cute picture of your kids, I probably saw it, but may not have felt well enough to comment on it. I may have missed a few birthdays (Sorry, Kim Kellogg!). But if it was some post about “if my friends really care about me they’ll repost this” or some meme that says something about “someday you’ll realize it’s best to get rid of the toxic people in your life” then no, I probably skipped over it. I don’t allow toxic people in my life {if they do somehow enter it, they aren’t allowed to stay long}. Heck, I may even be the toxic person in someone else’s life – who knows?. I also don’t intend to waste any of my time answering some public cry for attention to pass someone’s test of the strength of my friendship with them. Again, life’s way too short. On my side of things, the amount of energy that people spend with false drama, and overplayed emotion like “oh my gosh! I can’t believe she didn’t like the photo of my daughter getting her award. I’m gonna have it out with her and unfriend her!” is really sad to me. Really? Did it ever occur to you that most people have a real life and don’t spend all day everyday on Facebook waiting for your posts? Seriously. If someone missed something you posted to your 400+ friends (as opposed to a private email just to that person – you know, where you went out of your way to contact that one person and make them feel like they are important to you?) don’t take it personally. And don’t act like it is some big deal. Having cancer is a big deal. Not some damn comment someone did or didn’t make on Facebook. Get real.)

Okay- so now you know what I am thinking, please forgive me for being blunt, but cancer does change your life significantly. I do want to thank each and everyone of you for asking me how I’m doing, telling me I look good, showing true happiness that I am smiling, etc. It is your support and your reaching out to me that is keeping me buoyed.

9 thoughts on “How are you feeling?

  1. I think about people like you with REAL problems when I see some of the drama on fb. Not worth logging on somedays…. Thank you for blogging and being honest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love the hard, painful honesty that most people are hoping not to hear but that we often need someone to say it to–although in my experience, myself in the mirror tends to be my most reliable confidante! I also love that you painted your answers with humor. Been there and have felt like saying so many of these things!!

    Liked by 1 person

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