Snappy Satan vs. Chemo

I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I become “Snappy Satan” when I’m on chemo. Ok, so let’s examine the facts (in no particular order):

I’m mad that my own body is trying to kill me because it doesn’t recognize cancer as a foreign entity.

I’m mad that for the last 7 years, I’ve been in treatment longer than I’ve been in remission.

I’m mad that I may not see my son graduate from college and have a career as well as him maybe finding a wife and having some kids.

I’m mad that before I get dressed each day, my wardrobe is affected by the fact that I need to remember whether my port is being accessed or if I’m having blood work done at the local hospital. I very rarely get to wear sweaters because of this conundrum.

I’m mad that I need to drive nearly two hours each way to be treated for my cancer because it’s not an “average” cancer that a general oncologist can treat just a mere 5 minutes away.

I’m mad that I have virtually no appetite.

I’m mad that food doesn’t taste good.

I’m mad that taking a shower completely wipes me out. For that matter, just brushing my teeth takes a lot out of me, too.

I’m mad that I get tired easily.

I’m mad that I can’t sleep well.

I’m mad that I sleep too much (not quality sleep).

I’m mad that my family and close friends feel helpless at times because that’s what cancer does – it socks everyone in the stomach and most folks fall to their knees because cancer is just that mean and brutal. Whether it’s the first diagnosis or any number of recurrences, it all sucks for everyone involved.

I’m mad that there isn’t an adequate support group available less than 2 hours away.

I’m mad that there’s no early detection test for ovarian cancer because ovarian cancer is actually a bunch of different messed-up cell types and subtypes.

I’m mad that I can cry for apparently no obvious reason.

I’m mad that anxiety hits me out of the blue when I least expect it.

I’m mad that this cancer knows no age limits and has taken a lot of fabulous women in this world far too soon.

I’m mad that I’m not able to support those around me like I’d like to because I’m just too tired.

I’m mad I’m not able to get out and go snow shoeing or hiking like I used to. Heck, I’m mad that I struggle to walk to the cul-de-sac and back.

I’m mad that I can’t focus long enough to read a magazine article, much less a book.

I’m mad that I need to keep changing chemo treatments because this cancer just goes rogue and multiplies when it wants to.

And then there’s the chemo itself. This is poison that is put into my body while the nurse has gloves, a mask, and a disposable coverup on while I get infused while wearing my regular clothes. This poison isn’t smart enough to look for only the cancer cells. It attacks all rapidly dividing cells which includes healthy cells (thus the loss of hair sometimes). And no doubt it likely affects one’s mood as well.

One thing I’m proud to say is that I’ve never once wondered, “Why, me?” The thought has truly never crossed my mind. I am a genetic mutant (BRCA1+) and thus not surprised with the cards I’ve been dealt. But I can still be mad that this damn cancer still hasn’t learned how strong this gal is and I can be mad that this damn cancer seems to love a good fight.

So yeah, I’m not really surprised that I may snap from time-to-time in looking over the above list. I probably am “Snappy Satan” and if anyone gets offended with my short and direct manner, I will apologize here in advance. It’s not who I want to be. It’s not really you that I’m mad at because I have a long of other things to be mad about. It’s just really hard to keep it all together sometimes.

Thank you to those who have stuck around even in the presence of “Snappy Satan.” I appreciate you. 💜

 

The New “Normal”

As I journey the winding road of recovery with the goal of staying in remission, I find that what was once normal does not feel normal anymore.  For example:

* I do not like chocolate anymore – seriously.  This is weird but ever since I had my surgeries back in September, I have not wanted chocolate.  I can eat an Oreo every now and then but honestly, that’s not “real” chocolate so it’s taste is o.k. with me. I don’t eat them often and when I do, it’s only one.

* I am no longer the carb addict I once was.  I am a southern gal at heart and I used to love biscuits, grits, and gravy.  I couldn’t get enough bread or pasta and I certainly never met a dough that I didn’t like. Now, I don’t want all that.  If I have a veggie or turkey burger, I opt for a lettuce wrap rather than the bun. I can enjoy a slice of fruit pie but those indulgences are few and far between.

* I get tired easily – is this because I’ve become a couch potato?  No. It is because surgeries, chemo, and any other medications that have been pumped into me have altered my physical makeup.  Literally.  It will take me a while to rebuild my stamina but I will not rush it.

* I ask for help now.  Before being diagnosed, I was of the opinion that if I asked for help, my fear was that I would be seen as weak, lacking ability, and that I would be judged for not being able to do it “all” by myself.  In reality, I have learned that it is actually a sign of strength to ask for help.

* I do not care what others’ opinions are of me.  OK, for those that know me, this is not new.  However, whenever it came to my kiddo, I tried very hard to make sure I presented a smiling face no matter what when in the presence of other parents because I wanted to belong to the “cool parent club.”  I didn’t say “no” when someone needed a volunteer at school, scouts, or church functions. I overbooked myself – that old saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person” was my life.  I now say “no” without remorse and often without explanation.  I am still polite but if I feel tired, it’s o.k. to say so if someone asks how I am doing.  If I need to sit down, I do it rather than trying to tough it out.  I no longer fear that someone is going to turn his/her nose up at me and think less of me for being honest.

So does all this mean that I am not normal?  No, it means that the needle has moved and this is my new “normal.”  In reality, it likely should have been my “normal” all along but it took being diagnosed with cancer for me to realize it. And I have learned that I am a cool parent. I am a mom who has battled cancer and is still here to raise the kiddo. I have shown everyone – especially my son – that I am strong person who has a desire to live and who has put her mind and body to it to beat this stupid disease.  If I can do this, there is nothing that can stop him from setting goals and shooting for his dreams.  What’s cooler than that???

Even if you’re right, please be wrong once in a while

I was chatting with my sweetie the other day and he told me that he had been given some advice from a friend who recently lost his wife to cancer.  He said his friend told him, “Even if you’re right, be wrong.  It’s not worth the stress of an argument because what she’s going through is harder and tougher than what you’re experiencing.”

This was interesting to me so I’ve thought about this for the past few days and I think it’s good advice.  If truth be told, I have given in many-a-time in my lifetime for the sake of avoiding an argument.  I am halfway through my chemo treatment schedule and it is getting harder for me to “bounce back” from the fatigue with each treatment.  Although I’m tired, my ability to get adequate sleep is also affected.  Therefore, between the fatigue from the poison in my body coupled with a lack of sleep at times does not help me to be the most rational thinker at times. Let’s also not forget the “chemo brain” which also affects me at times.  I have about 1/3 the hair I used to have on my head and I look like a light bulb, I have a bloated face after chemo treatments, and I cannot taste food anymore (everything tastes like paste – not the Elmer’s kind – just the flour-and-water kind of paste). All of these affect me in some-way-shape-or-form.  On top of that is my natural personality to think that I’m usually right most of the time (this is said tongue-in-cheek so no backlash, please). I can see how this would be frustrating for my sweetie when I’m making what I think is a very valid point because in my chemo-fogged sleep-deprived brain, I have it all figured out.  However, being able to articulate it is not always a successful venture.

Although I’d rather be able to have someone come around to my way of thinking due to my incredibly persuasive abilities to communicate, I am o.k. with someone giving in once in a while right now.  I know it’s not right but it makes me feel good to be able to convince someone to come around to my way of thinking no matter how he/she got there.

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