The State of Things

I've been struggling.

In fact, it's probably more accurate to say, I am struggling.

In 2015, I spent a year of my life trying to beat cancer. I always had hope. Hope, I always knew, is what will always get you through the toughest of times.

I was in remission for only a few months when, one day in my office, I got the dreaded call. The one that told me the cancer was back. Not only was it back, but this time, it was incurable.

It's been almost a year since my re-diagnosis. The hardest year of my life. I struggled greatly, suffered greatly, and most times, privately. From the outside I think I did a good job at pulling myself together but on the inside I feel all rotten

I remember my last "normal" day. Sitting on the deck with friends, wondering what Whole Brain Radiation would do to me. Enjoying the sunshine. Watching the dogs play. May 2016, and I haven't felt quite right ever since.

It's been nine months now. I've spent the better part of the last 4 months getting sick every morning, sleeping my days away. I would wake up, go to work, sleep the rest of the afternoon. Have dinner with Jeff, go back to bed and then do it all again.

This January, I knew I was coming up on my one year "cancerversary" of living with metastatic breast cancer. Knowing median survival rates, I knew that time wasn't always going to be on my side. I wondered, if this was the last year of my life, is this how I want to spend it?

The answer, as you probably guessed, was no. I took a leave of absence from my work at the beginning of January. My "retirement", as a friend put it. I wasn't sure what I would do with my time, but I figured it would be filled with friends, books, long walks and getting the chance to finally do all the things I love.

The first week of January came around, the hustle of the Christmas season over. Everyone was going back to work, and here I was, at home. I spent a year off during my first bout with breast cancer, but here's the main difference: back then I saw an end. Back then I had hope. Now, I wasn't sure what I had. I had an indefinite amount of time ahead of me, with no structure or purpose to my days.

This month, I've spent a lot of time lying in bed. I think, well I could get up, but what's the point? Everything I was doing to fill my days seemed just that: wasting time until the inevitable was going to come. I am waiting to die. 

I catch my mind wandering to the dark places. Often it will be a holiday or a joyous occasion and I'll think, is this the last time I'll experience this? When someone is planning an event in the future, my immediate wonder is - will I be here for that? I get sad thinking about all of the books, music and movies I'm going to miss out on. The milestone moments that are so special that I won't be present for. 

These are heavy thoughts. These aren't things I ever wanted to say aloud, or share with anyone. I've kept them in for a long time. Day after day, the anxiety to get up and live "normally" became harder. Just getting out of the house was difficult.

I wear a number of hats. I'm a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend. I didn't realize that one of the hats I wore though, my working hat, gave me so much purpose. I placed a lot of value in my work. It showed me I am still moving forward, accomplishing something. I don't have my work to occupy my mind and time anymore. It had been a crutch, something I could dedicate myself to. It stopped me from truly accepting my reality. I allowed it to take up every corner of my mind, so that nothing else could surface.

I don't have an answer or any wisdom to share today. It would be easy not to post this and wait until I'm on the other side. I debated it. These raw feelings aren't easy to confront, much less talk about. They are real, though. Cancer can be seen as purely medical side effects. Yet there is another side of cancer, the mental battle, that is proving to be equally as difficult. I haven't overcome my bout with anxiety and depression but if there is a positive side of this, it's that I know I don't want to feel this way anymore.

I know I'm ready to find a new normal. I know it involves acceptance, gratitude, and self-worth. I'm just not sure how to get there. I'm ready to not only enjoy my time but to feel like I deserve it. I'm ready to feel worthy of this life, worthy of a sense of purpose. I am not just here to die.

Anyways, that is where I've been and where I'm at. Thank you to everyone who loves me and supports me every day. I owe everything to you (except Mavvy. I need to keep him).

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