So far along this journey through treatment, I’ve managed to stay pretty damn optimistic considering. But one thing I haven’t spoken about in my blog is the negative aspect of chemotherapy treatment and what it’s like to go through it. Mostly because I’d rather focus on the positive aspects, the love of family and close friends–even total strangers–encouraging me to continue on this path to healing. Even though I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have minimal reactions to my treatments, the side effects are a harsh reality.
One thing about having to come from a place of strength all the time, for myself and my children, is that I tend to be one of those people who never asks for help when I need it. And yes, I’m stubborn. Ridiculously, annoyingly at times, stubborn. I have it set in my head that there’s nothing I can’t do, can’t take on and accomplish single handedly. If you tell me not to do something, that just makes me want to even more. Yup, I’m one of those people!
The downside to this is that I manage chemo, child rearing, housework, homework, social life and family life all by my lonesome. Fortunately I have plenty of family members close by who know when I’m pushing myself and aren’t afraid to step in and tell me to sit down and take it easy for once. But I’m also pretty good at convincing those same people that “no, no I’m fine. Yup, I can take care of it.”
Which has led to my father randomly stopping by, sleeping over, cooking dinner and doing the dishes. Or my mother folding laundry once the clothes have dried. And Saturdays at my sister’s house are always the best. She’s a phenomenal hostess, even when we’re just barbecuing in her back yard. Between her home cooking, the company of family and my children getting to spend quality time with their cousins–it’s our little getaway. Our home away from home where I can forget for a whole day that I’m not even going through chemo.
However, the human spirit can only endure so much before a person begins to break down. It was probably after my third or fourth treatment that I broke down. It was in the beginning of my treatments, I remember that much.
Even though I had begun chemo–I was still bringing my son to martial arts training two nights a week,taking my daughter to “Mommy and Me” gymnastics every Saturday morning and attending classes at UMass Amherst two nights a week plus three days a week in the morning. Yes, I’m also apparently nuts.
The steroids that I’m given with chemotherapy, had kept me up all night. I was sleep deprived, my hair was in the “I’ve decided to freak you out by thinning out some but I’m not going to fall out completely” phase. My emotions were riding a high speed roller coaster as my body adjusted to what chemo was doing to it.
The night I broke down, I broke down hard. I cried, I screamed, I punched pillows. It was the lowest my emotions had been in over two years but also a very selfish moment. I begged the Universe to let the cancer just take me. Make the pain go away, the exhaustion, the urge to toss my cookies with every passing breath. I was drained, overwhelmed and feeling defeated. The nausea was unbearable. It was worse than morning sickness during pregnancy, far far worse. That night I cried myself to sleep, waking up to an eyeliner stained pillowcase.
The next morning I tried not to beat myself up emotionally too much for what my run down body was feeling the night before. I woke up so thankful that cancer wasn’t taking me, grateful for another day with my children, thankful for the chemotherapy that was keeping the cancer from coming back. Humbled to my core by waking up to my daughter’s eskimo kisses, hugs and “I love you so much Mommy” in that raspy little voice. Rejoicing that I got to sneak into my son’s room while he slept, kissing him sweetly upon that olive toned brow, feeling tears well as I told him how much I love him. How thankful I am to be his mother, thankful that I have this amazing wonder kid as my son.
From that moment on I made a second promise to myself, that I would embody the image of the woman my children see me as. The strong, independent, courageous woman they look up to. I would be her, the better aspect of myself.
My best self, embodying the strength of SuperWoman without the cape. And the presence of an Amazonian warrior princess like WonderWoman, minus the cool bracelets and tiara. Prior to my breakdown, family and friends had begun calling me WonderWoman and Superwoman. I suppose for all I was doing and going through, always with a smile. It wasn’t until the morning after my temporary moment of insanity, that I really began to feel like that strong woman everyone thought I was.
No matter how exhausted, nauseated or disgusted I felt after treatments–I would give my best to my children and the ones I loved. For every reason they gave me to keep on keeping on–I would focus on the positive, expressing my immense gratitude for every single gesture of kindness and devotion.
And I really hope they all know too. I hope every single person who has sent healing energy, Reiki, love, prayers, positive vibes, any good energy my way–I hope they all know how humbled I am by all of it. I have never felt more surrounded by love and light and healing. Words cannot fully express it, actions only say so much. I am deeply, truly, grateful that the Universe has given me another day–each and every day.