F*ck you, cancer!

OvarianCancer_TealFClogoYes, I did it. I used the f-word, the mother of all cuss-words on my blog (Moms who swear WARNING -this link and others in this blog post contain obscene language).

I thought about the title – should I use the word “you” in it, or leave it out? And I realized that I definitely meant it personally – I’m not just exclaiming about cancer, I am exclaiming to cancer itself – F* you, cancer!

The funeral is next week. She was… a warrior – in every sense of the word. Not only a warrior, but a positive, spirited, happy one. She spread joy to so many others and supported those of us she knew who were battling cancer also. She joked about the “rocks in her shoes” (peripheral neuropathy from chemo) and told me even though it hadn’t gone away for her after all the years, that maybe it would for me. She was a positive influence to me at a time when I was having difficulty seeing the future ahead of me.

Anyone who has survived cancer gets a sickening heaviness in their gut and their soul when they hear that cancer has returned to target one of our fellow survivors. It takes away a little of our hope and our joy in the life that we have found again after finally being told we are in remission. And our belief that this is something we can put behind us someday crumbles some as well.

She made the best of her second chance at life after she battled cancer the first time. She worked at getting 701e68dc84baea3329bd3ca375bfafbaas fit as she could and she spent her time with her family and friends – spreading her joy of life. But the question is “why?” Why did she have to have a second chance at life in the first place? She never should have had to deal with this. It’s not like she’d made bad choices, or had done anything to deserve facing death in the first place. So, why her?!

It’s the randomness that scares us. It hits me, but not you. It came back for her, but not me. And there’s always that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop – when I say I am cancer-free, there’s always a “so far” on the tip of my tongue. I want to believe it’s over for me, but then when another of my fellow survivors loses their battle, it plunges me back into the bad times, the dark hours of lying in bed and thinking it could be me. What would happen to my family? Would I be filled with hate at the end? I’m not the most positive person in the world, and certainly don’t have the biggest heart. How would I face something like this?

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So, f*ck you, cancer! F*ck you for causing so much pain and fear in her life. F*ck you for causing her family and friends to suffer along with her. F*ck you for taking her away from her family at such a young age so that she will never get to see her children get married or have children of their own. F*ck you for taking away her chance at the joy of someday holding beautiful grandchildren in her arms and pampering them as they grow. F*ck you for leaving a hole in the hearts of her daughters and her son and her husband that they will never be able to fill. F*ck you for taking her indomitable spirit out of this world, leaving just the memories behind.

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I try to be a positive voice here on my blog. I try to spread hope and information about what having cancer is like. But today, all I can think about is the millions of people who have suffered. All the holes in all the families from losing someone to this f*cking disease. All the research that has been done all these years – while creating better treatments and enhancing quality of life for some of those afflicted with it – yet still has found no cure.

Today, I just can’t do it. I just can’t pretend that I have hope that everyone with cancer will be okay someday. That all of us will get to look at cancer from the backside and say I beat it. Because even if our cancer never returns, we’ve lost so much of our life in treatments and coping with after-effects and praying and hoping that it never comes back, sleepless nights worrying about every ache and pain. I’d like to spread positivity. I’d like to give you all hope. Maybe I can another day. But today, all I have to say is – F*ck you, cancer!



Side Effects are Contagious

<SPOILER ALERT- if you are planning to watch the movie Creed and don’t want your experience spoiled, do NOT read any further until after you’ve seen the movie.>


When you have cancer, you aren’t the only one who suffers from the side effects. I think the hardest thing my family had to go through was the feeling of helplessness as they watched me going through such sickness and pain. My husband said it just about killed him to know that there was absolutely nothing he could do to take away my misery.

Of course, the good thing about it was that it gave me a reason to not wallow in my misery.  Some days, it was all I could do to just exist through it as I waited for time to pass. But for the most part, I tried my hardest not to let my kids see how bad it was for me. At least I thought I hid it from them. I did my best to try to stay as normal as I could, even though I spent a lot of time on the couch or sleeping.

A few weekends ago, my daughter came home from college to visit and we were talking while she made herself a cup of coffee. She asked if I’d seen the movie “Creed” yet. She and her roommate had gone recently to see it and they both loved it – she had texted me right after they saw it to tell me it reminded her of me. I figured that was because she knew I was a huge Rocky fan as a teenager (in the 70’s who wasn’t a Rocky fan?).

This was the poster I had on my wall right up until I left for college and my step-mom cleaned my room out :0

This was the poster I had on my wall right up until I left for college

When I told her I probably wouldn’t go see it, she asked if it was okay if she told me about the plot.

<This is where you should stop reading if you don’t want the movie spoiled for you.>

So, apparently, Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son is a boxer and ends up meeting Rocky and convincing him to be his trainer. Then Rocky finds out he has cancer and chooses at first not to do chemo, because it had made Adrian so sick and she died anyway. When Creed finds out, he tells Rocky – if I’m gonna fight, so are you. So as Rocky starts chemo, he begins to lose his hair and is in a lot of pain, having a hard time walking. As Chally was telling me this, she burst into tears. She said – “Mommy it was so hard to watch because it reminded me of how much you went through last summer when you were going through your chemo treatments.” Tears were streaming down her face as she told me about how Rocky struggled weakly to climb the stairs at the Philapdelpha Museum of Art, which he’d run up in his training during the original Rocky movie. “I thought about you, Mom, and how hard it was for you when you were so sick and in so much pain.”

See, when you have cancer, everyone who cares about you- your family, your friends – have cancer along with you. When you suffer, they suffer. When you worry, they worry. I did my best this past year to be strong for my kids, to not let them see quite how bad it was for me, but obviously I failed to completely protect them from it. Maybe that’s okay. Parents aren’t infallible or invulnerable. I think it’s okay for my kids to see that. The reality of cancer is something that unless you have to go through it, many people would prefer not to deal with. I don’t blame them. It’s an ugly disease. Luckily, I was blessed to have a cancer that can have a fairly high rate of survival compared to many other cancers.


But regardless of the type of cancer you have, chemo doesn’t distinguish between them. It makes most everyone sick -although some lucky few are not as sickened by it, and of course it depends on the type of chemo drugs you are given. I never realized before I had cancer that there are so many different chemo drugs available, and that each one has a different efficacy on the various cancer types. Two of the drugs given to breast cancer patients are extremely nauseating (Adriamycin and Cytoxan). To this day, I still can’t see an IV drip bag without getting nauseous, even though one of those is given in a shot into your IV tube, rather than through a drip bag. It’s also, ironically, pink in color, so I can’t see pink or red kool-aid without also feeling ill. Just writing about it right now is starting to make my stomach turn. 😦

While I went through the treatments, I had every hope that I would be cured. I can’t imagine going through the chemo and getting that sick while knowing that it is only likely to extend your life. I hope I never have to experience that. I’m grateful that my cancer responded extremely well to the treatments and I am blessedly cancer-free now.


Flying high now…

I ended up purchasing the Creed movie on DVD and watched it yesterday. It was, as many critics say, as good as the first Rocky (unlike most of the other sequels). I had tears at times as I saw Rocky getting sick,  and wearing the symbolic chemo hat. I cried as he walked up the stairs to the museum and had to stop, doubled-over to catch his breath. Not because I was remembering how I felt the exact same way for so many months, but because I saw it through the eyes of my daughter for the first time – the horror of watching someone you love basically fall apart in the fight for their life, and then begin to piece themselves back together.

I think my family is reaching the point where we can kind of look back on my cancer treatment with relief that it’s over. We can joke some about things that I went through during this past year.  But, the wound is still raw enough for us – the pain and sickness, the worry that the treatments wouldn’t work, the worry that the cancer could come back, the long healing process and permanent scar on my chest- that we still feel it strongly. We had cancer. I am cancer-free now, but it has irrevocably changed my life and the lives of my family and friends. And I suppose once that bad thing, which you were certain would never happen to you, happens to you or your family, you are never worry-free again. :/