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Triumphant ups, dark lows and “But you don’t look sick”

6:28pm. June 24th 2014

How I’m feeling: Right now? Terrible. I had a great day yesterday, followed by a rough ending, followed by a rough morning, therefore a rough day today. 

Yesterday was a great day. I had been looking forward to The Smut Soiree on June 23rd for a while now. My good friend had surprised me with tickets and while I’m never up to date on the latest celebrity smut, I do like a good soiree (it had been a long while since I had been to one), I like that Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip is completely unapologetically her, and I knew that I could have used a fun night out with a good friend.

While I was on my way to meet my friend at a subway station, I began to get concerned about whether or not I could make it through the night. Often, even commuting somewhere via TTC after getting ready to head out (which takes much more effort these days) is enough to tire me out. And about 3/4 of the way there, I began to feel tired. And then I received this:

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And then I visited the page: June 23rd 2014 – Smutty Shoutouts. Tears everywhere. Happy tears, of course. It gave me that jolt of energy I needed. I became more than ready and energized to have a great time at The Smut Soiree! I have the best friends ever!!!!!

The event was great and I was feeling good. I was so proud of myself for making it through energetically. I ran in to some people whom took the time to let me know how much my blog had really changed them, I cheated on my diet a little and scored some sweet goodies.

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Sunta and I.

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This probably had a little dairy in it. Whoops. Just a little cheat.

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Julie and I

Lainey herself also gave me a hug, shared some encouraging words with me and just as my eye ducts were filling up with tears – she said “Don’t cry. You’re going to kick this thing’s ass” She also opened the event by giving me a big public shout out and lead the hundreds of people there to applaud me through my cancer ass kicking journey. It was truly touching. I blushed.

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Lainey and I.

In the middle of the evening, I received an upsetting text message from a family member regarding being upset about helping me with some of my responsibilities. I don’t know if my friend had noticed but from that point on, I was distracted all evening and night. I got home and I was so confused and upset but too tired to even think about anything – that I just decided to force myself to fall asleep. It took me about 2 hours to fall asleep but I finally did it.

The next morning before getting ready for my day, I asked my family members when they had wanted to talk. It was made evident via text messages that certain feelings were had but not communicated and so I figured things should be spoken about openly. That is always the best route to take. It wasn’t a long conversation and I don’t know if it went very far but what I took away from it was that I’ve realized how alone I really am with this all. I feel even more isolated, trapped, stressed out and frustrated then I had already felt.

I rarely ever ask for help. Those of you whom know me well know this about me. In fact, this whole experience has been teaching me to really lean on my loved ones, have some faith and to ask for and accept help when in need. Asking for and accepting help has historically not been an easy thing for me to do – but when I do and when people do step up to the plate, I assume that help is offered whole-heartedly. I also never want anyone to feel like they are obligated to help and be around for me (I just take really detailed notes on who actually is).

I (almost) look normal (after some work) and I go out when I can – and it’s fooling people in to thinking that I am not as ill as I am. People are forgetting that I have this war going on inside of me 24/7. Don’t get me wrong – I do not want people to treat me like a delicate little flower and like I’m about to die, but it does help a lot when people are aware, mindful and want to learn more about what I am going through.

Most people seem to only see the physical part of all of this. Just because I may look put together and am out and about doesn’t mean that I’m ok. I could be feeling terrible and am trying to “fake it until I make it” (I’m not sure that quite works with cancer) – or I could be feeling OK physically but am having a tough time emotionally and mentally. If you have read some of my blog posts, you’ll know that some of the ways I’m trying to cope mentally and emotionally is by doing puzzles, being with good friends, going to conferences, going out to eat. Simple things that make me feel like a goddamn healthy and normal person for once.

The physical side effects and impact is only one small part of all of this. There are people who do not want to acknowledge or want to understand the emotional and mental side. Maybe because it’s difficult for them or it’s too much work? Well to that, I’d say “How do you think I feel?” Other than shrinking the mass and getting through the more obvious physical and visual side effects (nausea, hair loss, stomach pains, menopause symptoms, etc) – there is a whole slew of things to address on the emotional and mental side of things. What people see when they are with me is only a tiny fraction of what I’m going through – but hopefully through this blog, people will start to have more of a fuller understanding of this all as it unravels. It’s one of the reasons I don’t hold back and why I’m unapologetically honest with how I’m feeling in the moment and at the moment. Aside from the hair loss, the skin changes, the nausea – I want to have some of the more emotional and mental highs and lows documented on here as well. It’s not easy for me to be this transparent publicly but I do it to help me cope. I am also learning more and more every day that my willingness to communicate honestly and my vulnerability has helped so many other people (with and without cancer) so, that’s a nice bonus.

I don’t think I can afford to feel guilty for having cancer or worry about how others are coping with the fact that I have cancer (I have the cancer itself to deal with) – but right now, that’s how I feel. I want to accept help but I feel like everyone would be much more content and comfortable helping me through this when I’m completely woman-down (and showing it). I almost wish I LOOKED sicker than I do so that people could feel more comfortable with looking at the scope of this cancer dead straight in the eye as opposed to avoiding it or thinking that things are “ok”. It’s almost too easy for people to forget that I have cancer. I almost wish that the way I feel would show physically and visually. People have shown to be much more happy to be there for me when I was immobile, had IV inserted in my arm, was being poked by needles multiple times a day and had to have my vitals checked on a frequent basis. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. Do I have to wear a “I have cancer” sticker on my forehead? Do I have to rub my illness in other people’s faces? There’s just no chance. Me appearing healthier than I am and doing things that make me feel like a healthy person is helping. Why would I deprive myself from that?

My priority right now is to heal on all fronts (physically, emotionally, mentally) Part of doing so is surrounding myself with whatever and whomever makes me happy. It’s really all I want. Over the past couple of days, I’ve had to repeat this over and over again in my own head because I’ve had people try to distract me from my focus. I’ve had people make me feel even more alone and isolated than I already do. The type of support I need changes – and right now I’m not getting the kind of support I need. I’ve had people make me feel like they know what my limits are more than I do. I’ve had people pass judgement on the ways I choose to cope and heal myself physically, mentally and emotionally. And I’ve had people downplay what I’m going through. I know that nobody will quite understand what I’m going through and I don’t expect people to – especially those whom haven’t had to battle cancer and go through chemotherapy themselves – but there is only so much I can do to try to help others understand.

Immediately after a really rough morning – I decided to try to rehab my way out of it by simply following through with my day. I walked my dog, met with a couple of colleagues to discuss potential exciting things to come, did a video shoot for my upcoming fundraiser on July 30th and walked my dog again. All with people and things that make me happy. I didn’t make it to the Gilda’s Club Annual BBQ this evening. It was really important for me to attend, but I was all tapped out – mostly mentally and emotionally. I was still very upset and confused – and while I probably should have made it out (Gilda’s Club is a really positive environment and full of people whom actually understand what I’m going through) I had to take this evening to write this one out.

My life has been full of ups and downs over the past few months. This cancer has changed everything. While I have a good idea of some of the things and people that keep me up, I’m thinking I should really start keeping track of what/who contributes to my ups and what/who contributes to my downs (and then maybe turn my back on whatever/whomever makes it on the “downs” list) The problem is that whatever contributes to my “ups” and how I choose to use up my very limited amount of spoons are being judged.

1 reply »

  1. Your journey and strength continues to inspire me. Continue to stay true to and focus on yourself and your health. Any negative people, family or not, are not worth your time and energy. Your ability to stay strong and “not look sick” is amazing and probably just as important to your healing as anything else. I love your positive and open mind set. Some people may fall off the helpful happy side of the list but quality will be left and you may even add some new names as you continue to kick ass and live life.

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