Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Worst Part

Last night I asked my Rob if he knows what the worst part of having cancer is. The way he looked at me, I realized how stupid the question was. I quickly added that I meant besides that cloud of maybe dying hanging over your head.

"Yeah, besides that whole maybe dying thing, what's the worst part?"

And then I had to correct the question again, because there's a whole stew of icky stuff that could be considered the worst part: the constant pain, losing the hair, the fatigue, feeling sick to your stomach, and so on.

So I modified the question to: Do you know what ONE of the worst parts of having cancer is?

And here's the answer:

It's how constant it is. How it's always there. From the moment I wake up in the morning, to the clothes I choose, the hat or scarf I put on, the makeup I wear, the food I eat, the errands I run, the activities I choose, to when I go to bed, and even when I without fail wake up some time during the night--it's all influenced by the fact that I have cancer.

I can't think of a thing that happens during my day that isn't in some way touched by that fact. Even when I do something normal, like go to the movies, I have to pick an early show so I won't fall asleep in the middle, and carefully choose a head cover that looks semi-normal and won't itch after two hours or slide around when I lean back on the seat.

Everything's a process that, frankly, makes me weary.

Then there's the chance that I'll see someone I know, and they get that look, the one that's so full of concern. And even if I've been feeling fine, all of a sudden when I see that look I get all choked up and want to cry instead of saying that I'm fine.

I'm sure anyone who's been through a major illness knows what I'm talking about.

Taking a vacation next week will be good. I'm certainly ready for a break. But I worry that the little details (like how do I keep a hat on while riding a roller coaster?) will dampen it. Hopefully I can let it all go for a while. Or at least let it mostly go.

I doubt if I'll be able to let it all go for a few years - when that whole cloud of maybe dying thing has passed. Maybe I can let it mostly go when all the treatments and surgeries are done, which isn't for several months.

For now, I just look for diversions wherever I can and keep hoping for small fleeting moments of normal.

8 comments:

Jewelz said...

You are very inspiring. Hang in there. My Mom is going through breast cancer right now; I wish it were me instead of her. Best of luck to you.

Suzanne Reese said...

Thank you so much! I'm sure your mom wouldn't agree. The only thing I can imagine that would be worse than this is watching my child go through it! Give her my best.

Sierra Snow Soaps said...

My friend Mary lost her daughter almost a year ago, just before she turned 16. They thought she went to the bottom of the pool after her race because she dropped her goggles. By the time they figured out she was in trouble (they think it was a heart attack) it was too long and she died 2 weeks later in the hospital without ever waking up. Every time I see Mary I almost break down. We talked about it and we feel the worst thing is all the things you miss. For her it is missing all the firsts, first car, date, kiss, grandbaby......For you all the things you miss because you don't feel good or are concentrating so hard on doing the right thing to fight the cancer. I love your writing, I am praying for you. Stay strong and fight, constantly.
Michelle in NV

Suzanne Reese said...

Sierra,
I agree that is the hardest part of losing someone. You're also right about the time lost. I think I blogged about the time I was hospitalized with an infection and missed hearing my 10-y-o sing a duet in church. I cried and cried and was so mad at the cancer for the "robbery".

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Suzanne, I think of you often, hoping all is going well. Hang in there fellow Storymaker!!! Many prayers are being said for you! :)

Catherine said...

I think of you often, too. I should just call or stop by, but I'm stuck in the thick of mostly thin things I suppose. I hope you have a fabulous vacation!

Anonymous said...

Suzanne,
This post sums it all up for me at this point in my treatment. I'm done with chemo, still doing herceptin and I just scheduled the first of several surgeries that will come in 2011. Even when I'm done with it all and I look normal to the world, it will still be there. Please keep up your blog posts of your journey, I do love them sooooo much.
Anne
aka: your sister in pink

Suzanne Reese said...

Oh Anne,
I think of you every day. I'm glad I get to follow your journey vicariously through your sister. Best wishes to you!