I think about writing something every day. There is still so much to navigate through: sadness, grief, physical discomfort, confusion, frustration. All of these things lead me down a very dark path towards my life long backseat driver, depression.
Frustration is not my friend. I give it way too much attention and it can paralyze me, but it also gives me an opportunity to innovate if I don’t self-implode first. I can fix or make just about anything, but I can’t fix me. Maybe there is nothing to fix?
I haven’t really stopped working since my diagnosis. There’s something inside me that won’t let me stop now. I used to be able to walk away from my long To Do List and focus on whatever, whenever. It was freeing. Not anymore. I am now a full-tilt working beast.
At first I thought this was a good thing – I was actually crossing things off my To Do List! Inconceivable! But, the To Do List never ends, especially when you own a business. Build a walk in cooler, design a bar, repair tables, fix the ice machine, brew the beer, prep and cook the food, fix a leaky sink, deal with people on every level. I have a need to finish everything on the list now. Now I cannot leave something undone, because how do I know the cancer isn’t already back?
So many questions because of cancer – Is this what I want to be doing? Do I want to live here? How long can I work like this? What is the end game? Will I ever be content?
Sharing camp asparagus with Henny
My last bad chemo was Wednesday (taxotere and carboplatin), and I find myself reflecting and wondering, What does this all mean? Where am I going next? It would be easy to disappear back down the path into “normal” life, but I choose not to.
It’s common for cancer patients to get depressed and disillusioned when their chemotherapy regimen has ended, and it makes sense when you think about it. For the last 18 weeks I’ve had continuous contact with nurses and doctors who monitored my health. In some ways getting chemo is sickly comforting – it’s supposed to be destroying cells that want to destroy my body. And now I’m not getting it anymore. The security net of chemo has been taken away. Now I get to free fall and figure out recovery on my own.
You can see the chemo on my fingernails like growth rings on a tree, except it’s not growth, it’s destruction. If you look closely you can see six ridges on my thumb nails from the six chemo treatments. Interruptions in my cell growth. My anti-growth rings. One by one the ridges will disappear over time as my healthy cells take back my body.
With chemo out of the picture I am getting a glimpse of where I’m headed, but I’m also looking in the rear view mirror. Everything has happened so quickly and I really haven’t had time to grieve the loss of my breast and five months of my life. Chaotic doesn’t even begin to describe how the last five months have been. When I take a hard look, the chaos has been around a lot longer than that; it’s been more like two years. Cancer shoved that chaos over the edge adding in a big dose of terror and mortality.
It feels like I’m going backwards, something I don’t really ever do, but I have to if I’m going to process all of this in a healthy way. I have to back up to my mastectomy and take on those feelings. I have to figure out what this all means for me and where I am going next. Backwards is the new forward.