Monday, February 25, 2008


This morning I visited my therapist.

I refuse to have a stigma associated with that statement. I suffer from depression, and I've experienced some very difficult times in my life, and I have some things to work out as a result of it. I will NOT be ashamed of these facts, despite societal pressures to be sweet and nice and um, not depressed.

Anyway, I saw my therapist. She pointed out that I'm mourning all of the changes in my life, and that it's no wonder that I struggle sometimes.

She pointed out that despite my best efforts, I'm still encountering the side effects of cancer on a daily basis.

Yes, daily. How's that for depressing? In addition to all of my fears about it returning, I struggle with some pretty basic stuff. I burned my finger on a pan last week - a tiny mark - and now I can't fit a ring over my finger, because I'm having mild lymphaedema. I can't put my left elbow to my head; when I lift that arm in certain ways, it hurts me. I can't carry Tessa on my left side, because it's not strong enough. I can't sleep well. I have hot flashes at night. My bones ache. I have osteopenia. My cholesterol is climbing. I have to take handfuls of drugs to fight these issues, and they all come with side effects and concerns.

Sorry if I'm bringing you down, but I think since I'm honest here I'm going to be honest here.

It's not pretty, is it? It's not nearly as nice to think about as my desire to have a vegetable garden, to pursue issues of spirituality, to enjoy sunny days. I do those things too, and I want to do those things more often, but I've got this other side to deal with. It's not pretty, it's not okay, and it's part of my life.

And I mourn that. I want to be PollyAnna (unfortunately, this is true) and I try my hardest, only to have these other things bang me down again. I am reminded a million times a day of my disease and how it impacts me. I'm not done, and I haven't moved on.

And this doesn't even touch on the cosmetic issues, and how ugly I find my own body.

Me, the granola girl, with implants. Covered in scars. Uneven. Me, the woman who took pride and joy in breastfeeding my daughter for 15 months, reveling in the femininity and nurturing in such an action...I don't even have nipples. Not real ones, and not fake ones. Nothing but scars.

I know, it's not all about boobs, it's about what's on the inside, and I like my new curls, and I'm glad that I'm (mostly) keeping the weight off, and it could be worse because I could have lost a leg, yada yada yada.

But let's face it, folks, it could be a lot better. Most people don't have to deal with this kind of crap, and I do. And those who deal with it generally deal with it much later in life. Not so for me.

I don't focus on it all the time, and I don't write about it every day, but let's get real. This is my life, and it impacts me, too. And I'm mourning that, and struggling how to deal with it.

In 2007, Melinda, a beautiful woman from the YSC boards, died. This weekend I met a Melinda with the same general physical characteristics......and it was hard to focus when talking to her for all my thinking about the other Melinda.

And the wondering: will it be me? Will this be my fate? How will my family cope? Will Ryan be able to manage being a single father? Will Tessa lose her joy if she loses her mother? Will my legacy be one of pain and loss if I die young? Will the pain at my loss overshadow what has gone well in my life, parenting, and being a wife and daughter?

Please don't answer these questions; they're rhetorical. But I need to be allowed to say them. I need to be allowed to mourn without being told "it could be worse" or "at least you're lucky that..." or "oh come on you'll be fine, I just know it." Yes, it could be worse, and there are others worse off than I am, and in many ways I'm very lucky. But NOBODY knows if I'll be fine, adn there is no way to find out.

It could be better. I wish things were easier. I wish I didn't have to struggle daily with these physical effects, and I wish my thoughts were easier.

Having these thoughts sucks the joy out of a lot of things. With every milestone (birthdays, holidays, seasons) I can't help but wonder if the next time the milestone comes around, I'll be in chemo again, winning or losing. That's no way to live. I'm working on working it out, but let me tell you, it's not easy.

So I'm mourning, and I hope that by mourning I can let some of it go, let some of it heal. I'm hoping that by saying some of it out loud, acknowledging my pain, that I can find ways to ease my pain.

I'm waiting.

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