As I have been dreaming up posts to write this past week it has occurred to me that another reason I haven’t started a blog is it feels a little selfish, redundant, and uninteresting to write a blog where I relate everything to cancer. Do I really want it to take over like that?
But it’s not like I have to force myself to think about it all the time. It’s part of my life now. I think about it almost as naturally as I think about anything else that is a part of me. My right knee. My chin. My left thumb. Now, my scar. When I have conversations about mundane things that have nothing to do with cancer, it is often, if not always, a footnote in my head. Like this morning, I was drinking tea out of a “Senior moments happen” mug with a giant “50” on it that we must have bought as a gag when one of my parents turned 50. I took it and casually said, “Oh, i’ll be 50 in 24 years (I am turning 26 soon).” And then I wondered if I will ever be 50. Or sometimes i’ll say something like, “When I have kids…” And then I wonder if I will ever be able to have kids. As long as i’m on chemo, I won’t. And as long as my cancer remains, I will be on chemo. My oncologist has made that clear. Generally sadness and fear don’t accompany these thoughts–though I realize they probably sound shocking or morbid to my readers. I just notice that I think about them; whereas before I was diagnosed, these thoughts would never even cross my mind. This “noticing” is mindful. I will come back to mindfulness in another post.
I have been bothered by these “selfish” thoughts particularly in the past week because my mom broke her ankle a week ago and she needs more help than I do now. She’s basically immobile. It hurts. It sucks. She is having surgery next week to make sure everything heals nicely, she will get another cast on, and she will heal. Then she will have physical therapy, and six months from now, we will all hopefully have forgotten what it was like when my mom broke her ankle. This is, of course, the traditional trajectory of being sick. You’re sick, you get flowers and cards if you’re really sick, or else you just use a lot of tissues, and then you get better. And while you’re sick, you trust in and look ahead to the time that you will be better. People nearly always get better. That’s the funny thing with my pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. There’s getting sick, but there’s no getting better completely. There’s no clear end to look forward to, no battle to fight really, there’s just life with this thing inside of me that can strike again at any time.
I have found, with these thoughts running around in my head most of the time, that I don’t have much capacity for thoughts about anything else. New stressors affect me much more than they used to. I dread dealing with “adult” things. Normal stressors just can’t fit in my brain. This feels selfish. It doesn’t help that since my diagnosis, everyone–well, mostly my family–has been very nice to me. This feels more selfish. And people ask about my health all the time, and I go to a therapist and talk about myself for an hour every week, and I go to see the doctor and they want to talk about me. I can’t get away from it. And now I started a blog. Just what I and everyone else needs.