This just in: sometimes, life after cancer completely sucks.
I try not to spend a whole lot of time here feeling sorry for myself, or bitching about how hard my life has been since my diagnosis. The truth is, most of the time I feel great – physically and emotionally. Still there are those (thankfully) rare occasions when I want to scream and break things. There are times when I cry. Hard.
Yesterday was one of those days. The details don’t much matter. Let’s just say that to my mind, there are few things more painful for a survivor than feeling unsupported, feeling that people you expect to “have your back” don’t quite recognize the shit storm that life after cancer can be.
But thank the gods for great husbands, running shoes and iPods. After an unplanned evening run, my equilibrium was restored and I managed to wake up this morning and fight another day.
Life is funny, though, and no sooner did I return from my long day in court this afternoon than I learned that one of my most beloved fellow warriors was, just last night, in the grip of her own version of the survivor’s shit storm. It simultaneously breaks and warms my heart: I recognize the commonality of our struggles, and I want nothing more than to hug her and let her know that I really, truly understand, to relieve some of her suffering. But at the same time, I feel the way in which our shared adversity actually gives me strength.
Little more than twenty-four hours ago, it felt like everything that I have endeavored to do over the course of my recovery has been an illusion. No matter how many miles I log on my bike or in my sneaks, I will never be able to bear a child. No matter how many rocks I climb, I will never escape my genetic mutation. No matter how many hours I sit and write and reflect, no matter how many people on Facebook “like” my posts, I will never be able to avoid going for GI scopes and check-ups and blood work. It will never end, and it will never change.
Yesterday, a creeping blackness descended; by day’s end, my heart hurt. Other than my valiant husband at my side, I felt completely alone. Most days, I want to in some way forget about my cancer. Yesterday, in my despair, what I really needed was a phalanx of love and support surrounding me. I needed to know that the most important people in my life understand in some fundamental way how fucking hard and painful so much of the last two-plus years has been.
The last thing I want is for my fellow fighters to be suffering, falling prey to the emotional undertow that is an inevitable part of survivorship. For all of them, I want nothing but love and strength and positivity. But I am not so naive. Instead, what buoys me, at the end of the day, and in those moments of darkness, is feeling everything that binds us together and allows us to keep moving forward, in spite of it all.