Monday, October 26, 2015

One Year

I passed the year mark of my surgery on September 19. Tomorrow will be the one-year mark from the day that I went in and discussed my chemotherapy just before I started treatments. (And then bawled in my car for a good 30 minutes before I could call my mom. FYI: NO ONE should go to those appointments alone. They are the worst.) As I hit these little anniversaries, I've been trying to be really introspective about it all.

What have I learned in this past year? What have I really experienced? Am I as strong as everyone keeps claiming I am, or have I just been really successful in deceiving them all?

The truth is, I feel like I'm a failure of a cancer survivor.

I'm only introspective because other people keep bringing it up. I don't feel like I've learned any major life lessons. I haven't developed lasting, supportive relationships with the women I worked out with for 12 weeks in a study up at Huntsman, or with the doctors and nurses who treated me. I tried really hard not to need anyone during the whole ordeal.

I saw some friends that I hadn't seen in probably a year, and they asked how I was feeling. People ask me that all the time. Not in a "hey, how are you?" question that everyone asks everyone. But a "So. How are you feeling?" I know exactly what they mean, of course. But my health is never high on my list of concerns and so I don't think about it. Ever. Until someone asks, and then I don't want to think about it because I'm feeling fine. I'm tired because I didn't go to bed until 2 a.m. I'm lonely. I'm stressed because of work. But I'm not anything because of cancer.

I'm done with all of that. (Minus the millions of worthless follow-up appointments.)

I don't like being associated with cancer unless it is to my advantage. (Yeah, so what? I still try to play the cancer card when it suits me. Never mind that it hasn't worked for me much.)

For something that can be so earth-shattering and life-changing for some, has been a relative nothing for me. If it weren't for the fact that my hair is still the bane of my existence that I have to deal with every single morning, I think that I would literally forget that any of this happened a year ago. It would be on the radar the same as when I crushed my hand in a falling window. Or that time I checked in the hospital for bleeding to death. (A precursor to everything else I've dealt with turns out.) Something that sucked while I was going through it, but aside from the medical bills and follow-up appointments, has nothing to do with my day-to-day.

Every reason that I've come with as to why I had to go through all of this has been shot down as the year progressed. Did it fix any of the medical things I was dealing with before? No. Did it exempt my family from having to deal with cancer? No. So perhaps there is no reason, except that life sometimes sucks, and that we have to go through sucky things.

And then we're done with them. And they are a blip on the radar of life. Here, and then gone in a year. And in its wake leaving a path of insecurities, debts, and not a whole lot more. Something that you would totally forget, if others did.

Even when I was going through treatments, it was not always the highest on the list of woes in my life. When listing out the trials of my life, it usually landed on spot number two or three or four. (The exception being the second or third day after treatments, when I'd forgotten to take my Dex. Those days truly did suck.) Unlike so many true survivors, I never thought of myself as in a battle or as if I were fighting off cancer. I hate being grouped in with those who have had it so much worse. Who have tried treatment after treatment, only to find that their cancer morphed into something different and had to switch up their meds or add treatments. I lost an ovary. But the physical evidence is limited to a scar that no one will likely ever see, and the scar left behind by my port.

I also hate how much I care about my stupid hair. I'm obsessed with it. I talk about it all the time, but I hate whenever anyone else does. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I obsessively look at pictures from a year ago when I had long, blonde hair and cry over the fact that I'll be 32 before it looks anything close to that again. I hate that it matters. I want to want to embrace my short hair, and instead, I just get angry about it all.

So have I learned anything in the past year? Am I a better person? Have I grown? Am I really that strong? I think no. I remain me. Unchanged. Unhinged. Shorter hair.




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