Have you experienced something so soul shaking that it changed your world? Have you walked through the fire only to land right into the HOT HOT HOT frying pan? Have you asked why me? Have you screamed it at the top of your lungs but no one seemed to notice or care? Have you found yourself in a difficult place, relationship or just plain stuck in such a rut it’s about to bury you? Do you feel at times like everyone else is so connected but your still alone in a room full of people? The rope is falling apart and your still trying to hang on.
I know the feelings well.
I’ve been to hell, lived in Denial and all I have to show for it is my big ol’ smile.
A very dear friend came over with her family. As the adults sat and talked, she dropped a “look how far you’ve come” bomb.
“You ran around smiling and happy, when I knew how tough everything was. How the hell did you do it?”
Honestly, the time she speaks of was EXTREAMLY tough but I had to be outside myself to thrive and contribute. Was I being fake? No. I was being the person I desired to be, HAPPY. I had made choices that at the time seemed right but later I would see and be accountable for those errors in judgement. We ALL have things we’re not proud of, said things we wish we didn’t share in the way it was delivered and things that we’d like not to remember ever again. Stop shaking your head, you know I’m right.
Doesn’t mean the past needed to change how I decided to view today.
Did you learn from your fire?
I’ve inserted my foot in my mouth, more times than not. Written checks with my mouth, my rear can’t cash. Hurt people because I didn’t think before it flew out. My mouth and my butt get me in more trouble. :/ I didn’t get what this world was about FOR ME, until I was hit by hurricane cancer, the river flooded and my levees broke. Every last thing I knew as truth in this world went right out the window and so did most of the people in my life.
We bounced into the OB-GYN for what we thought would be our first ultrasound for the baby that we had wanted and wished for. The tech quickly left the room right after she started. The little room started filling with medical people, all to look inside my uterus. Oh, this can’t be good. It wasn’t. Our well wished for baby was a molar pregnancy. We took the news in stride, I went through surgery to remove the abnormal cells and came through just fine. We had every reason to think that all the plans we were making, we’d see them through. We’d try again and this time would just be a dark spot in our memory. Little did we know that trying to have a baby would bring me to the brink of death a few times and that small scary time would seem like an all expense paid trip to Disneyland compared to where we’d go.
Called to come in to the doctor’s office, we were sure it was about getting the baby thing back on track. Part of my heart fell out of my chest and may still be located under my doctor’s desk… cancer. I got cancer from getting pregnant!?
We started “chemo lite” in Metho shots and expected that I’d respond and this would be over.
The shots over the weeks did not work and testing showed that I had “tumor sites” cropping up left and right on organs and even in my GI tract. My uterus was no longer the problem… it had spread. It was a MUCH larger problem than anyone originally believed. Most people respond to treatment and return to their lives quickly, I won the 1% lotto here. I was getting swept out by the undertow and I rapidly was losing site of the shore, safety… life as I knew it. I begged to keep my almost rear length hair. Sounds stupid but to me I wasn’t scared of chemo, I was scared of looking sick and finally being outed. I was so vain. Soon I’d be too sick to be vain. The kids didn’t know, no one but my Prince… I felt guilty because I felt like I gave myself cancer, I shouldn’t complain. I felt dirty, tainted, guilty and terrified. I didn’t want people to worry and I knew saying the C word would send a ripple through my already, Oh too cancer touched family. At 31, I felt 16 and wanted nothing more than to curl up and cry in my Dad’s bear hug but cancer had claimed him already the year before. I felt like I was Goldilocks and no chair, bed or porridge fit… so I decided to be lost in the forest and couldn’t see the light through the trees.
We sat the kids down before I started the big scary chemo and we left that family meeting stronger. Now it wasn’t a bad secret. It was still bad but now I wasn’t fighting it alone… we were going to kick a$$ as a family. (This whole experience was so unspeakably difficult than I can begin to explain so I’ll stick with breezing through the Cliff Note version & keep it on the lighter side, for now.) I wasn’t ready when my hair broke off or fell out. It was like a permanent panic attack.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Oh how I found you so hard to look into. Sounds SO over the top vain but when you feel like poo and look like poo it makes only more poo feelings. We identify ourselves from the outside in and I had to learn to be comfy from inside out. An exercise that felt like my undoing but ended up give me a good friend that I had always wished for and learned to enjoy spending time with… me.
My Prince put a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor and they all took turns shaving what was left of my long locks. Surreal but it was a memory that I gather strength from today. Surrounded by the people I love and live for, safe even though my insides were shaking like Jell-o.
Several weeks later, we attended a lunch for a family member. I still was struggling with the bald is beautiful thing but I work better outside of me, so we went. I was so a wear of the looks people gave and started looking straight down when I went anywhere, like I was the one with the social problem. HELLO! High 5 people for kickin butt please, don’t stare! We left a lovely lunch and started walking towards the parking structure. A little boy came up and asked why I had no hair. I told him that I was sick but would regrow hair when I was better. I felt weird but kids need answers and I was glad he asked instead of pointing or being rude. Questions are great, if they are worded kindly and asked at appropriate times. We all want to know stuff but we should try to think of others, before when we ask away. We got into the elevator to get to our car. On the way up the 60 something woman riding with us, point blank asked me in front of my children, if I was going to die. I won’t repeat what I said because I’m not proud of it and the fact that my kids were there too, I wanted to die right there in front of THAT woman. I felt like nothing and no one so why not?
My Handsome Prince is the coolest cucumber of the bunch and it takes quite A LOT to rattle his cage but when we got off that elevator, he was shaking, he was so upset. When we got to the car and everyone was strapped in, he turned around to face the kids and tell them the thing that kept me ticking, when things got bad.
” You know why everyone looks at your mom? She’s got NO hair but they can’t figure out why they can’t stop looking at her. It’s because she’s the most beautiful woman they’ve ever seen! They can’t believe that she’s so beautiful AND has no hair! It’s hard because woman are jealous that they can’t look like her WITH hair and every man wishes he was me. She’s always been beautiful but now her beauty stands out!”
Case closed. I was beautiful and everyone in my house BELIEVED it. To the point that if I put a hat on because I was cold, one of the kids would take me aside and tell me to take it off and be beautiful me. Sniff sniff, dab tears… I couldn’t have made it though without the people I feared telling the most.
I learned in the fire, that cancer scares people, makes them say/do bizarre things and helps you weed out friends/family and friends who are family. It isolates people, families and that shouldn’t be. I had just moved and my big support system was 30 minutes away… only 3 friends have made the trip in the last 3 years. Ouch… I was also suffering from the away from my posse syndrome too and coupled with my health issues, I felt really let down by those I thought were my people. Those 3 girlfriends would run to the ends of the earth for me and stay up all night listening if I needed it. My answer was, my TRUE friends, 3 of the VERY BEST people in the world would be there to champion me on! Sometimes all you need is just one, just the right friend to come in and keep you going.
Cancer took a lot. I would get so mad at myself because I couldn’t find some great wisdom to impart from the hours I sat there, IV in arm. Like having cancer gives you a direct link to Gahndi’s deep thoughts. I could write some wicked fortune cookies but alas, I don’t hold some great wisdom of truths to follow. I’m alive and cancer free. I lost almost total hearing in one ear due to some of the medications. I’ve been cautioned that I will eventually lose hearing in the other as well.
If I had to pick one of my super powers to lose, hearing would be the one I’d choose. I can hardly hear at a restaurant or loud enclosed space, now. It really is such an awful thing but I am so grateful for it. Grateful because I can see and feel to touch my kids and Prince. I can smell the dishes I cook or when I need to escort something out of the fridge. I can taste the garlic and I’m still here kicking and screaming. We’re learning sign language, just in case and I can read the lips of the people that I spend the most time with. I’m grateful that my hearing loss came after I knew how to speak and communicate. I LOATHE telling people that I’m sorry, I can’t hear well or ask them to speak slower so I can try to follow their lips. It freaks people out and suddenly they start treating me like I’m mentally impared. My IQ did not drop, my hearing loss quite frankly, makes me work harder, read more and I’d dare say I’m going to come out on the other side BETTER for it. It’s my weird challenge in this life… a challenge I have to embrase and intend to rise to. Not being a Pollyanna Pretender at all, happiness is in there, you have to choose to see it, own it and live for it. The rest is just stuff we go through. Perspective, need a lift?
You don’t need cancer to make you feel bad. Life dishes out enough to make us all want to throw a pity party with a table for one. It’s a shift in perspective that brings you back to what gives you life. Unfortunately for me it took a few scrapes with death to realise what a dang gift it is to breathe and live fully. It’s not about the wrongs and rights, this life is about giving and receiving love. It’s about the people in your life that you can’t do without. Less about THINGS and more about real truth. Doesn’t matter what car you drive or the house you live in. Who your family is or was. It’s about being true to you, honoring your beliefs, values and being the best you, you can. Shine Brightly!
We’ve come this far. We’ve battled to be here and dang it if we’re going to let anything else negative in. Yeah, there is plenty that we can cling to and cry, leave me alone. Don’t you think those times that you feel the worst, might be what sets you free? Your not alone. You never have been. You have us, we’re family and it’s OK to be you, we don’t mind feelings. Let you shine through all the gunk and crap in your life. Take all that baggage off your back and burn it. All the shoulda, coulda, woulda… toss them in the flames too.
This is our life. This is us trying to learn and grow from all the heartache, trials, and challenges put in front of us. We’re people in progress. Just because we’ve seen times that hurt, doesn’t mean we’re done. Life happens even when we play nicely by the rules but yet some of the best people get smacked down still. I’ve been labeled as “broken”. I am only as “broken” as your STUPID made you think. Yes, go tell THAT to the world! I am not done! Cancer or anything else this life can dish, WILL NOT DEFINE WHO I AM! You are in charge of who you want to be and how you choose to treat others.
Those people you don’t think need a hug, probably are the ones that need it the most. We’re not here to race each other to see who has the best. If you try, you WILL fail. Race you. Best yourself. I could care less where you live but I totally remember how you make me feel. It’s not hard to smile at someone or allow a car to go in front of you. You could be late but really, your actions and words really do effect people. I love all the odd things about each and every person in our home and am so inspired by it. Different is what makes the world an amazing colorful place to enjoy!
Mindy Gledhill sings it best here. It’s not about your scars, It’s ALL about your heart. In every pothole… there is HOPE! Check her out, she’s freakin’ amazing!
5 hundred 25 thousand 600 minutes, or so goes that Rent song. You have time. Make this year less about the THINGS and more about finding joy within ourselves and for the people we love. Make us a better, tolerant, caring, giving people. But just like in Rent, remember to measure your years in love. Try not to judge because it’s not about how we see it, but how we choose to be the change. Your life is calling, will you go into this world and let IT define you? Nope!
Keep your head up and be proud of all the funky stuff that makes you special! You don’t have the social issue, the people that can’t look you in the eyes and past the outside package, have the issues! Amen!
A dear friend just joined the ranks of the club no one wants to be a part of. I’m sorry, BUT you will NOT be alone sweetheart. If we can’t cure such a rampant and insidious disease… I intend to make dealing with it almost as awesome as Van Halen in the big hair days! Your up against mountains… so we learn to cover ground as we dance our way to the tippy top, laughing as much as we can along the way. LIVING as we go! It will be tough. Fight, just fight and we’ll hold you up when you can’t take another step. Keep going. Please don’t give up, it’s a long road but it’s no longer dirt, many have paved it for you find your way. Knowing how private I am about my own personal hell, you should know that I put this right here for you to see, because I love you and I don’t want you to go underground. Please don’t be quiet about it. This can really be a good life babe, your not done! I’m not done. We’re going to beat it. I’ve got your 6, always!
Cancer will NOT define me, it will NOT define you either!
If I can talk to everyone about me, you can too. It’s OK, you don’t scare me, I have kids to do that.
Today is a gift… Take a Great Big Bite!
The struggles make the sweet just that much better.
Live colorfully out loud… those that mind don’t matter and the one’s that do, will love you til the ends of the earth, anyways.
Never alone because you are in my heart ALWAYS,