Here are some words of wisdom that I offer up to my "I Want to Write BUT..." students every time I teach the class (which I just did on Saturday):
Don't be afraid to discover what you have to say in the act of saying it.
I suppose it would behoove me to listen to my own words of wisdom. I say this today because a few minutes ago I was reluctant to attempt another blog post, because I have not yet figured out what I really want to say, because if I intend to move away from the My Great Breast Cancer Adventure theme, I need to know what the new theme will be, don't I? Oh, and wouldn't that also entail changing the name of the blog?
Round and round and round we go.
The truth: I actually did have a thought, first thing when I woke up this morning, that I could have posted right away, but I rejected it because: 1) It was related to having cancer, and 2) It wasn't positive, and I'm pretty sure that one reason I stopped posting for so long was because I got tired of expressing so many negative (complaining, whining, poor-me'ing) thoughts. Not only tired of it but humiliated by it.
It's embarrassing to reveal yourself in such a negative way, to let it all hang out, to not be -- or at least try your best to be -- a beacon of light for others who are in the same boat . . . a source of encouragement and inspiration, a model that others would want to emulate, an example of courage and strength and optimism in the face of adversity.
It's not fun to out yourself as a whiner, a quitter, a failure. Not fun to write a blog that ends up being a big fat downer: Remember when I tried going on that restricted ketogenic diet last October? Remember how I shouted from the rooftops about it --about how great it was going to be, about how I was going to wield it like a Samuri's sword and kill my cancer with it, without ever going down that ugly chemo road?
Well, I didn't stick to it. Blew it. Gave up on it. Went back to my Rice Krispies with a vengeance. Sat down one day and ate not just one slice of Orowheat Honey Wheatberry bread, but the equivalent of every wheatfield in the state of Kansas.
Which brings me back around to what that first thought was that I had this morning, the one I rejected as my next blog post because it sucks on so many levels I can hardly bear it:
As the chemo causes my tumor marker numbers to go down, it also causes me to feel worse and worse. One would expect just the opposite, right? Isn't that what good medicine does? Isn't that what healing does? Makes you feel better?
Well, not chemo. The better it works, the more miserable it makes you feel. It's poison, remember? It's toxic. It kills the good cells along with the bad. And it's cumulative. With every new infusion (one a month), I feel worse. Sicker. More disabled.
I also feel bad/sad because I know that my friends/blog fans want to hear good news from me, not this. They want to be able to leave smiley faces and "you go girl!" comments on my blog. They want to be able to relax and feel happy for me and not have to worry about me as much. I get that. I want that for them too. And for me.
I've heard that when cancer gets REALLY bad, I mean SUPER bad, then you do feel such awful pain that you will indeed beg for chemo, because at that point the chemo side effects are actually better than the pain of cancer.
I have never experienced that side of cancer or of chemo. For me, the cancer itself has never caused any pain. But for the last eight years, I've experienced a great deal of pain caused ONLY by the conventional medications I've taken, such as Arimidex, Tamoxifen and the dreaded chemo (which I haven't even had the worst versions of). And to be fair, I've also experienced pain (though lesser) from certain "alternative" medications, as well.
So far, I have not had the experience of chemo giving me relief from pain. All it does is cause pain. Suffering. It sucks.
Now. Let's see. What shall I blog about instead of cancer? I have no idea. I am so GOOD at complaining, goddamnit. Especially about cancer.
Okay, let me try this as a way to wiggle out of a "bummer" ending to this post. Here are three "before" photos and one "after" (current) photo of my dear Olivia "Boo Boo" Bouchet. She gives me such joy!