Friday, January 27, 2017

A Cold War

 It was one year ago today that I got a call from my OBGYNs office requesting that I come in immediately to speak with my doctor. Living far away I assured them that I would not be able to make the drive before the close of business. They told me to come any way. It was then, for the first time, that I realized there might be something seriously wrong. That was the day I was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma. To say that a lot has happened in the past year is a gross understatement. Despite the odds, however, after many scans, biopsies, failed treatments, surgeries, scars and side effects I find myself today with no evidence of disease (NED)- that coveted state of affairs in the cancer world that has come to replace the term "remission" as a more accurate way to describe not having visible cancer. 

I was in the hospital for several nights last week following my successful surgery. Now that I have returned home to heal with instructions to take a break from treatments for the next month I find myself faced with a new challenge. 

What do I do with the fighting energy when the fight is over - at least for now? 

I thought I would feel boundless. I imagined euphoric dancing in the pastures around my house as wildly as my healing scars would allow me. I imagined diving head first into my new life with hope for the end of my cancer and an unbridled passion for making good things come out of my experiences. I looked forward to excitement for all that I can tackle with my new free time with a break in the treatments and its side effects. 

Instead, I find myself feeling just- limited. Limited by the surgeons' warnings to not to move too much or too fast, not to lift and play with my son. Limited by my well-founded fear that this thing isn't over and that celebrating now might at best feel ingenuine and at worst jinx the good news. Limited in my list of things to DO. 
After months of constant travel and treatment and monitoring and worrying I was in high gear attack mode! Every thought that I had was in the interest of prevailing, strengthening, fighting and never giving up. I was J.B. the Conqueror, up against the mightiest of foes! But, now that the foe is badly wounded I find that I reflect not on what I have overcome or the strength that I have gained but on my own wounds.   I had expected to take this time to look back and smile at all the good that has come of this challenging year. But instead I find myself feeling levels of anger and sadness and loss that I hadn't allowed myself to feel when I was the inspiring Warrior at Arms.  
I have lost things. I have lost time, health, dreams, a blissfully ignorant feeling of security, and worst of all I have lost people. 

I'm charged with healing now and becoming whole but I am feeling rather broken. 

It's hard to feel triumphant when there remains so much uncertainty about the future. There is no finality where I stand, and there is no fight to occupy me. 
We are in a cold war now. And I am trying to recognize and to adapt to the new surroundings. I've read about things like survivors guilt and the difficulties of survivorship. I never quite understood them before but I feel I'm getting a taste now. 

There will be celebration. There will be joy. But there will also be a lot of other things. And that doesn't make me weaker or mean that I've lost. It's just another, less visible, battle scar. 


Thank you all for being there for me during this wild and crazy year!!! 

3 comments:

  1. Give yourself the time you need to heal, inside and out. I totally understand.

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  2. JB I would love to connect with you. Our stories are eerily similar. lindseyshipley1@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you.

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    1. Hi Lindsey! Would love to connect. I sent you an email :)

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