I don’t remember writing very much about the fear that gripped me the last time I was in Germany. I wrote of course about my fear of going. But i’m talking about the fear that I faced while I was there. It wasn’t that the news that we received there was so terrifying. But, looking back, it did terrify me to learn how bad everything suddenly was. That there were “innumerable” tumors in my liver, that there were tumors outside the liver that no other scans had picked up. The treatment itself, of course, also scared me, as well as being on my own in a ward where no one spoke my language. I spent many sleepless nights staring at the clock on my wall in terror.
Fear is a hard thing to admit when you have cancer; especially when you’ve been living bravely with cancer for over two-and-a-half years. Especially when you’re feeling not terrible, just bad, and when you have a lot of people who want you to live, and when a lot of people live a lot of years with what you have (albeit with slightly different diseases). But I was scared. I still am sometimes.
Fear wasn’t the case the second time around. The prevailing emotion, I think, was frustration. Powerlessness. At having to go all the way to Germany to have this medical treatment, the language barrier that was such a barrier, being in the hospital. Mostly at finding myself over and over this year, at age 27, with a master’s degree and an amazing boyfriend, yet not at all in the place that I want to be in life—or ever thought I would be in life. And no end to the discrepancies in sight.
I am not completely thankless. The cancer did respond to the first treatment. My liver showed a small reduction in tumor activity. Which is good news. But despite the improvement in my liver, there were another few small legions growing outside my liver. My cancer isn’t quite ready to put down its sword.
This frustration that i’m talking about, though: after we talked to the doctor my parents and I realized for probably the 50th time that this isn’t going away so easily. None of our plans for the future are really accurate and we are going to have to make things up as we go along. For example, I keep thinking about this time in the not-so-distant future that I might feel 100 percent again. Naively I thought that time would be a few weeks from now… but that time might be pretty far off, especially if I keep going and having my butt kicked in Germany every few months.
The only thing to do is to try to live as normal life as possible despite not feeling 100 percent. I can’t hide away at my parents’ house forever. I need to rest a little and then get back on my feet, even if I don’t feel like it, and try to live my life. I don’t quite know what that life will look like, but I need to find it. I keep thinking about this like my recovery period after my last surgery…but whereas my recovery period had an end last time, this time it just keeps going on and on.
I return to Germany in December.