Friday, May 23, 2014

2nd Cancer-versary

Two years ago I was with my sweet friend Nicole who had the bad luck of being with me while I foudn out I had cancer. I'm a sentimental person, I like anniversaries. I like getting distance between myself and a moment, so that I can look back and reflect on what has changed. I like the exquisite revisiting, lightly touching every second that past, one at a time. I like thinking of myself as younger, knowing less than I do today, with a sense of innocence and wonder that I am not sure I carry in the same way.

This year what stands out to me is that 2012 fucking sucked. I don't know how to get over that, and maybe I just let the ocean of moments wash over the hard edges of that year, until they are soft and polished in my heart. For now, they still bite and cut, but it gets easier all the time. I found out I had cancer, I lost my voice for almost two months with paralyzed vocal cords, I raised money post surgically and ventured to Uganda (which was amazing and so, so taxing), and came home to have my mother die from an overdose. A long, long overdue overdose. It's been hard in different ways ever since that year, and I've never spent so many times in my life thinking that I couldn't take any. more. I know what that place feels like now, better than I have since I was a teenager when things were insane and crazy but in very different ways.

Today I elected to spend some time with my Sistah, Leah - my friend who while reading this very blog about my journey, discovered with crazy luck, that she had leukemia. Over the last two years we run into each other randomly in the community and always at the exact right moment for us. She's a soulmate, I hope we can get our tattoos together some day. We'll have coffee today and I'll cry, because I know that today is a big day but that very soon I'll be back to testing to see if the cancer stays away. Another ultrasound, another appointment - and hopefully that will be all. Last year was so stressful, I had some other symptoms that led us down the 'Do I have lymphoma?' road. Fortunately it ended well but honestly, not without some traumatic moments. I'm hopeful this year that nothing new is discovered and that the appointments are boring. I worry that if I'm not vigilant, and if I let the time for testing come without worrying, that it will be the moment when I get the worst news. Worry has become a talisman to ward off bad, bad things. So far, it's working. Why rock the boat. ;)

I'll have lunch with my Husband who believes in me and my strength and is always, always there for me, and then perhaps coffee with a friend where we won't (hopefully) talk about it, if I can keep it off my mind for that long. Just a couple of friends hanging out for a bit.

The one residual from this experience I'm super pissed about is the body trauma I have. I didn't know about it- I'm very good at processing, and so when I lay down in the dentist chair and had needles put in my gums and freaked the ever-loving-shit right out, I was lost. I spent about 5 months crying every time I thought about it (like, bawling crying, oftentimes), and now i can think about it but can't lift the phone to make the call just yet. I need to, and I'm really scared to have that experience again. On the flip side, I did have the experience, I was treated SO well, and I spoke up for my needs really well too. It's just that emotional tidal wave that nothing can control, that's the part that scares me. So I'm wishing this wasn't a left-over, but there it is. I'm sure I'll get through it at some point.

I'm grateful to be experiencing normal life, with no complications, no crazy scar (yes, a scar, but not a giant one), without having had radiation and worries about that. I'm grateful that it was one tumor and not many, that there were no metastases, and that my community showed up for me. I'm grateful cancer gave me a moment with my mother where for one moment, it was about me, and not her, and that she took my hand and cried with me as we pondered together what the future might be. That moment alone was worth all of it.