Wow, I just figured out that I did not write a post for the ENTIRE year of 2016. My last post was dated, December 29, 2015. How is that possible?!
If there are any followers left, this post is for you (and for me).
I suppose I know how it was possible ~ 2016 was a complicated year for me, but nothing complicated happened. This is the year that I finally saw a small glimmer of light since my cancer diagnosis on June 24th, 2013 (one day after my 48th bday). There is the Jenni-before-cancer and the Jenni-after-cancer. No, I didn’t have chemotherapy. Yes, I “only” had radiation therapy. And, yes, it took me THREE years to come to grips with the whole ordeal.
My diagnosis was never fatal or even close to being fatal, but it still did a number on me. I had multiple scans on every machine that can do a scan, I had hospital staff (male & female with the kindest of hearts) make X’s and dots on my breasts and body with sharpies, and I had doctors and nurses tell me that I will be fine with time. This happened over 7 weeks for 5 days a week. My appointments were with Thor (the radiation machine) and his minions (nice nurses, but different every week) every day, Monday thru Friday, at 8:30am. This experience did make me numb to many, many people looking at, squeezing, drawing on, and viewing my bosoms.
But, the routine of having someone drive you to and from radiation every day for seven weeks making small talk is emotionally draining and takes a toll on you because you feel badly for many reasons – (a) you feel like your cancer doesn’t warrant any attention; (b) you have run out of things to discuss: (c) you have to get radiation and bare your breasts to whomever is on duty; (d) you have family & friends that feel badly about your situation and want to help (how?); (e) your pain and exhaustion isn’t obvious like losing your hair so your pain is invisible; (f) you feel badly for feeling pain, tired, incapable of caring for your family; etc.
I obviously survived my cancer, but the aftermath included a total hysterectomy once I finished my radiation treatments. Once I was back on my feet, it was late December and I had become a recluse of sorts. Then, by the end of February, I was definitely a recluse. If you are connected by the internet, you can have ANYTHING delivered to your house. How awesome is that?! I’ve joked (winky face) with my friends that the internet makes it waaaayyyy toooo easy to be a hermit. But, seriously, yes, I love internet. Dealing with doctors, nurses, dentists, crowds, perceived crowds, can cause a serious panic attack. Not the fake panic attack where someone fans her face or takes a selfie and says, “Oh my God, I’m having a panic attack!”, but a serious, hyperventilating, sobbing, dizzying, disabling panic attack. This would happen with a large crowd even if I was familiar with the surroundings. I will say that the aftermath also included my family in many ways.
The internet mitigates a lot of potential panic attacks especially when you can avoid large gatherings like shopping at any grocery store, Kohl’s or Target. However, that is not the way “normal ” people live. Right? Before BC, I did not think twice about these types of interactions. Now, after cancer, I’m different. What is normal?
Leaving my house is a big deal. Going to Target, Walmart, or the Marsh Grocery is a big deal. In Nov 2015 of last year I drove to my friend’s house in Franklin, TN by myself. THAT was a big freakin’ deal for me, myself and I. I also went to a Madonna concert, a Bruce Springsteen concert, Rachel’s college graduation, a Carol Burnett show, a Tears for Fears concert, and a taping of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – these were big deals for me and I survived!
I know my family wants a cure, but dealing with anxiety and depression is hard for me and there is no cure. I will say that due to my husband and my children that I’ve been able to move forward. My family has been wonderfully accepting of my new normal and I’m grateful for that. Daily, I do wonder silently to myself why they still stick with me, but I will take all I can get.
Depression lies and I know that. I acknowledge it and try to work through it EVERYDAY.
My oldest daughter has embraced her inner “Nasty Woman” and I love that! She bought us matching sweatshirts and we are marching with the Women’s March on Washington on January 20th. This is waaaayyy out of my comfort zone for A LOT of reasons, but since I’m doing this with my daughter, I know I will cherish this moment with Rachel.
Bring it 2017!