I promised my friend POD I would do a special post for LIVESTRONG day. And this is it. To be fair, it's a post that has been brewing and evolving [that means writing and then deleting to avoid the risk of sounding self pitying and grating – oh, and to avoid abusing people that piss me off!], as I have been having a 'cancer brain' type of week. Very irritating, as I have been obsessing about dying of this stupid, repulsive and repugnant disease. Hmm. Stupid. And a waste of time. But, hey ho, one year out of chemo, it seems this is normal. OOOO – goody!! I am normal! woop woop. Not.
Imagine this. A person sitting with their face in their hands. Crying. Bent over the keyboard, just trying to see the 'x'. That is me. Trying to remember when I was diagnosed. Chemo brain does that to you. It can be really crushing. I suppose it was the 30th January really – sound scan, you have a malignant mass. Thanks.
Anyway, back to the post – it is supposed to be about how cancer has affected my life. Well. No brainer there. Get cancer, life changes radically. Values change. Friends change. Thoughts change. Long term plans change. The resentment is unbelievable - once you've had cancer YOURSELF, life is totally different. It almost seems like we ought to be able to just have a holiday. Take a long break. But of course we can't. We [like everyone else] have to work. We have to pay bills. We have to deal with everyday ins and outs. But it's hard, as we feel like our lives are short, and WHY should we have to bother with these things??
In the meantime, back at the ranch, I have a lot of confusions. Actually, since I had cancer, my life seems filled with confusing things that were never there before – maybe because before I had cancer I didn't dwell on thoughts of death or how I might die? I certainly didn't envisage a long and painful, undignified death. I AVOIDED that. And I think I was right to. Why dwell on things that haven't happened to you? No reason at all.
Reasons for cancer brain week; reading [I can't sing, so I just read the words] hymns reminded me of death quite a lot. Plus one woman I talk to is obsessed with the fact that ovarian cancer is the ONE cancer that always comes back. This has made me think too much. What if it comes back? What if it tries to kill me? What if it DOES kill me? What? Blah blah – what about Aj, I don't want to leave him alone - what about this that and the other? It's scary.
I haven't even CONSIDERED where I will be buried / thrown etc. But I must.
And I confuse myself further by feeling totally positive it won't come back one minute, then by thinking it already HAS the next. Aaargh! I am reading Lance Armstrong's book 'It's not about the bike'. He went through this exact same thing. Once you are no longer doing something [like chemo] to kill the cancer, you seem to be at a loss. No action. Just wait and see if it recurs. The first year of remission is so complicated. And it's disturbing to have a mind that swings back and forth between one extreme and the other. This first year is chronic - a low grade terror infests your mind constantly, as the chance of recurrence is highest then.
And, this is the other confusion – should I keep talking to other women who have had OC? Am I simply wallowing in my own misery? Am I dragging it out? Two people [they do not have cancer] have both said that if I keep talking to women who have had the same thing as me, I shall never 'Get Over' my cancer [get over it? hahahaha – is that even a remote possibility??]. Neither of them were being mean – they were trying to help me. But I am frightened of being alone with my cancer. So now I don't know what to do.
Today I was told I am 'obsessed'. What?? Of course I am obsessed, obsessed with making sure other women know about ovarian cancer. Obsessed with spreading the word. Yes. But generally obsessed? no. I don't think so.
The group of women I am involved with are fantastic – we all understand one another, as we've all had the same thing – Ovarian Cancer [apart from one friend – she had cancer of a different type]. We swap tales, we swap knowledge. But, we talk about recipes and garden plants, children and hopes and dreams – sex and the lack of it, work, hair colour [of course! now that we HAVE hair]. We do not OBSESS about cancer. But right now, one of us is dying. And I understand that. It is a warning of the 'worst case' scenario. But, for others, it may seem I am dwelling on things I don't need to. But I dwell on those things anyway. Better to know the facts or live in blissful ignorance? I think the former.
It is a constant in my mind…the pain I have in my side – is it the cancer come back? Is it an adhesion [please let it be an adhesion!]. WHAT IS IT???!!! And the people I can talk to about this are the women who have the same thing. The women who are also sitting awake at night, wondering what the hell is going on in their bodies – the women who also have the exact same pain that I have. Why, why would I want to cut my connection with these women?? How would it help me to pretend I didn't have cancer? How would it help me to pretend I am a normal person who doesn't have to think they may die within five years. How would it help me to be alone with my thoughts? I don't think it would. It's not the same as 'knowing someone who has cancer' – THAT you can get away from, cosily in front of the fire, you can forget about them – not cruelly, but it's human nature to try to concentrate on the good things, which is what I always did. Before I had cancer.
So. Would it help me to be alone with my thoughts? I think not. I actually think I might go mad. I am not sure I will ever 'Get Over' my cancer. How depressing. Get over it?? Give me a break – it's always there like a childhood monster in the cupboard – but this time it's real.
So now I do know what to do. For now.