Well get ready to send a few Benjamins because I’m about to share a boatload of thoughts. It’s been an intense couple of months (time flies!) post-chemo and I have been busy transitioning back to New York City, prepping for and then getting surgery and am now healing and adjusting to my ongoing systemic and preventative treatments. For those wondering, surgery went well and I am so happy to finally be rid of that stupid cancer tumor.
If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably remarked on how “brave” or “well” I seem to be handling cancer. I take those comments in stride because for each joyful moment I share, there are at least a handful of hard moments. I just don’t talk about or choose to focus on the latter as much. I told myself I’d subject my journey to social because my end goal is to inspire others. If I can battle through this, you most certainly can too. However, no rainbows are found without the storm and part of that also means sharing the bad with the good and I want to be as honest as possible.
I tried so many times to start a blog entry the last few weeks but found myself at loss for words. Cancer makes one weary and I am oh so tired. I am tired of fighting, tired of crying, tired of forcing myself to be positive, tired of trudging to endless appointments, tired of pushing through the constant pain, tired of texting, talking and regurgitating the same information. While I’m grateful beyond words for the support and being able to put chemo and surgery behind me, I have also been grasping with the difficulty of facing my new normal. It’s nice to be back in New York City but it’s made it that much harder to face the reality that while so much remains the same of my life here – everything is absolutely different. New York City has always been my favorite city in the world. It holds a magic that no other city I’ve visited or lived in has ever come close to possessing. However, I feel like I no longer fit into the life I once had. And that’s been really, really hard for me to adjust to. I’m no longer the person I was pre-diagnosis/six months ago. And I will never be her again.
Right now it’s been especially difficult because I am stuck in a weird limbo. People think I’m done with treatment but I am not even close. I’m dealing with so many side effects from what I’ve just been through and am going through I feel like I’m in some freakishly obsessive relationship with my hospital. I’m either meeting, talking or missing calls from them, and neither of us really want this to be a long-term commitment (especially me). Because of the type of breast cancer that I have I still need radiation (4-6 weeks every single day), a year’s worth of Her2 targeted treatment (injected every 21 days through my port ) and I’ve started layering hormone therapy on top of all that. Hormone therapy for me is comprised of monthly Lupron shots in my buttocks (to shut down my ovaries) mixed with aromatase inhibitor pills I have to take daily for the next 5-10 years which will put me in early menopause and reduce estrogen producing capabilities. This comes with a whole slew of issues because essentially it’s like I’m a menopausal woman trying to live the life of a 30 something year old. I’m battling every single day and it’s the hardest full-time job I’ve ever had. I’m exhausted. When I think about all the more I have to face, I find myself shutting down with panic and wishing fervently to go back to life as it was pre-diagnosis. But then, I realize that I can’t ever go back. I have to accept this and move on with my life.
A friend asked me earlier this week if I’d read Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Option B. It’s about Sheryl’s struggle to put her life back together after her husband’s sudden death a few years back. In the midst of my crazy life right now, I had no idea she even came out with a new book. My friend pasted a quote she said reminded her of me and I wanted to share: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
My whole life, I’ve always been fortunate and empowered enough to make changes accordingly to get out of unideal situations. But having cancer is especially frustrating because I cannot change or escape this situation. I have to face it head on and do my best to not let it consume me. Sometimes a single “pro” can outweigh a sea of “cons” and while I mourn Option A so much, Option B brings with it the most depth I’ve ever experienced out of life. That’s one giant “pro” worth marching onward for.