Sad because I’m going through a second breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. And this time, the stakes — the cancer’s staging — are so much higher.
Mad because I’m going through this all over again, and I hate it. Treatment makes me feel awful. Nauseous, light-headed, fatigued.
Today is treatment #4. So, after today, it’ll be four down, 20 more to go, just to get to the point where my oncologist will even consider stopping the treatments. I’ve got a long road ahead.
I decided that in order to mentally survive this current tour of duty, I’ve got to rethink my strategy. Being angry at the cancer, sobbing over the unfairness of it all, wanting to scream out of frustration long enough and loud enough that everyone in metro Detroit can hear me is a strategy, I suppose.
But only a short-term one, for the times when I’ve really had it. Fifteen minutes here, an hour there. That is reasonable every now and then. Long term, though, looking out at the weeks and months that I will need to endure to get to the other side of this treatment — well, screaming, yelling and crying isn’t going to help me. It’s only going to wear me out. I’ve got to restrategize.
And then it came to me. I need to make a paradigm shift in the way I’m approaching my treatments. I need to think about them less as something that’s killing bad things in my body, and more as something that, at its culmination, will actually bring forth new life.
What I’ve come up with is going to sound a little crazy, but stay with me here.
Chemotherapy treatments and pregnancy share many parallels.
My niece, Natalie, and her husband, Blake, are expecting their first child on June 21, 2011 — the Summer Solstice. It suddenly hit me the other day, when Natalie and I were sitting at Nello’s Diner in Royal Oak, craving their homemade rice pudding with whipped cream, how much our two conditions have in common.
She gets nauseous. So do I.
She craves food. So do I.
She experiences fatigue and wide emotional swings. So do I.
Her goal is to give birth to a beautiful, healthy new life.
So is mine. Cancer-free, treatment-free, run-through-the-grass barefoot in exhiliration new life.
I’ve decided that, from here on out, that’s the way I’m going to think about it. The nausea, treatments, cravings, fatigue, doctor’s appointments — they’re all about bringing forth new life on the other side of this. Just as if I were pregnant.
And, in an ironic twist, it just so happens that the estimate for the duration of my chemo treatments — four to six months — gives me an end-date right around Natalie’s due date.
Perhaps we will be celebrating the gift of beautiful, new life, together — two-fold.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson