I had a complete stranger reach out to me on messenger last night.
Her name is Kristin and she is cancer free.
She gave me all kinds of good advice regarding what’s coming up. She gave me actual questions to ask at my dr appointments. She also informed me that reading cancer Facebook pages is fine but not to do it too much. She told me gobs of people recover then leave those pages to go live their lives.
I’ve been in such a panic for a month now. I’ve been reading everything. The one thing I was searching for was to know that I’ll be fine.
After she told me that—I thought—well, duh!
My husband told me the same thing. People get better then move on.
I never ever wanted this to happen to me. Now I just want to get moving and become one of those people.
But knowing me—I’ll be one of those people who “moves on”, but like that nice stranger who talked to me and made me feel a million times better, I’ll probably do the same for someone else who is going to someday feel like I do now.
Anyway. It’s a rainy January morning. And I’m just lying in bed like I do these days, way later than I have since 1992 when my first baby was born.
I don’t like being slowed down, but I’m going to try to cut myself a fucking break.
But here soon I’m going to get up, do laundry and mop the kitchen floor. Get real food out for dinner so my husband doesn’t have to eat fast food again tonight. (Sick of it!)
I like to give names to things in my life. My cars have all had names:
Jude the white Chevette!
Flying Green Peanut-my sporty Hyundai.
Jimmy-my cool ass Audi convertible.
And now Astrid the VW Beetle.
I decided to name my stupid tumor. At first I came up with “Mr. T”—get it? Mr. T?
I also have an actual friend who is going through what I’m going through. We hooked up on one of those pages! We started chatting and she goes—omg i know you!!
Turns out I know her through work. I used to see her all the time.
Now is that kismet or what?
She said I need to name it something weak and easy to break! And I thought—shes absolutely right.
Came up with the name Wimpy. Now I’m also considering Donald Trump. A real genuine pain in the ass and a cream puff for sure.
Anyway, I’ll have to think about it some more.
I just wanted to check in and say hi.
And thank goodness for helpful and kind strangers (and friends) who reach out to help people just because they care.
I have an appointment with my chemo oncologist next week on Wednesday. My husband will come with me to that.
I have an appointment with my radiation oncologist next Thursday. My older sis is coming with me to that.
I asked the lady who set my appointment with the chemo doc—how long til I start actually doing this stuff? She said about 2 weeks after these appointments.
So til then, I’m bouncing between feeling normal sometimes, then being scared, then just wishing I could start already, then happy I’m just chilling around my house like the old days. And the cycle repeats in no particular order.
People have told me I’ll feel better once I get the damn ball rolling. I know that is going to be true.
I still can’t believe it. Sometimes I really get pissed. I can’t get over how healthy I’ve tried to be all my life and for what. I have to go through this.
But I guess going and getting myself checked out was a healthy thing too. Glad I didn’t wait any longer. But still wish I had gone sooner.
So I’ll wait. And hopefully not loose my marbles before I hop to it.
I’ve always been an anxious person, not going to lie. But it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t function properly. Exercise (good) and lots of wine (bad) were (are?) my favorite ways to diffuse it.
This shit is something else. I’ve been experiencing some heightened levels of anxiety since I started noticing my symptom in August. It was manageable since I really had no idea what I was dealing with, but the closer my colonoscopy creeped up, the worse it got.
Still, I managed to put one foot in front of the other.
Now, since the end of that screening, the anxiety really took over. And it has been bad. Finding out 2 days before a major holiday—one that all my life I’ve always just was able to blissfully enjoy—threw me into involuntary waves of freak out.
What’s fun is as I struggled to put on a holiday somewhat normal, my body was like—um, no. I shook constantly, sweat poured off me when I wasn’t even doing anything. I reached out like a mad woman to professional mental health hotlines just to reach a trained ear—and they were all CLOSED.
I get people needing or wanting breaks from their work for holidays, but honestly, if you’re in the mental health field, holidays seem obvious to me to be one of the most important times to be available.
I felt completely unglued Xmas Eve. It sucked. Somehow I got through it, and luckily even managed to have fun when our kids came to visit.
I realized once I got through that experience—dude, if I can live through that without dying, I’m pretty damn strong.
So now I’m starting down this road and it’s not very fun. In fact, it’s scary as hell. My phone rings and I jump.
If you could’ve seen when I was waiting to hear about the results of my initial imaging tests, you would’ve been like—how the hell is she doing it?
The phone call finally came and I was informed I’m not stage 4. The release of anxiety was so huge, I shook like a leaf, went into the bathroom and threw up.
Upon exiting the latrine, I had to give myself props again–I didn’t die of fear!
So now I’ve been through a few appointments I never saw coming as part of my future. I hate it. But I’m doing it.
I shake a lot. I can’t eat. Sleep is rough. Sometimes the best I can do is sit in the corner of my couch and chill. Go to the grocery store because we need food? A simple task I used to do every week without a second thought? Yeah. How about no.
Kelly Clarkson blabbing away on her talk show on my tv? Makes me wish I could smack her, even though I know she’s probably a nice person.
When all this shit really began hitting the fan, I talked to my general practitioner. She is a true gift from the gods—hilarious, compassionate, in my corner, and she cusses like a sailor. I love her. She hooked me up, no hesitation, with anxiety meds.
In my former life, I didn’t need and was kind of afraid of medication.
Well, this is no longer a thing.
Honestly, what freaking better time would there be besides right now, ya know?!
It’s not shameful to need medication to calm myself right down. I need to eat, I need to sleep, I need to be able to do stuff again, and dare I say, a real laugh now and then might be nice.
I deserve laughs. I deserve relief. What I’m going through, I’m finding, is something a whole lot of people can’t understand. I’m envious they don’t. But really, that makes no real difference to me.
What matters is my health-especially physically. I can’t concentrate on it at all without addressing my mental health. I’m so glad I’ve figured that out.
So I’m taking steps to get the anxiety under control. I’m not berating myself for taking the medication (that stuff is the shit!). I’ve also started turning my phone off when I lie down in bed at night. My kids can call their dad (he’s not as popular as me. Well, that’s not true. His clients love him, but those people don’t text him for funsies all hours) and if they need me, he’ll tell me. I’ll also answer my sisters. Everyone else? They’re negotiable til morning. Or maybe afternoon. Or evening. Or maybe not at all.
I’ve always been a people pleaser. Like to lift people up. That’s on hiatus for now, unless I have the desire to be entertaining.
Anyway. I just wanted to write about my illness-induced anxiety. It’s a bitch. Wish it wasn’t happening. But as one of my favorite bands Blackberry Smoke sings—Wish in one hand, Shit in the Other.
For now, thank science for anxiety medication. It’s going to help me get on with what’s coming. And I’m going to embrace all of it, no matter what I have to do to do it.
One final thought:
Why the hell is Kelly Clarkson so spastic. She could use a meditation getaway or a cup of catnip tea. Why do I even care? I don’t, really. Maybe she’s just really fun and carefree.
Maybe someday soon, that can be me again.
Parting gift for this post—please enjoy. This band gives me life.
This is how I am going to keep people updated with me now.
I was diagnosed December 23 with rectal cancer.
I still can’t believe it.
I have always been healthy, worked out like a fiend, have never been overweight, went and got all of my Pap smears and mammograms and they were perfect and I wait 3 years to get my baseline colonoscopy and boom:
I have cancer.
Not just any cancer. Rectal. This means I am going to have to radiate and chemo my backside and then have part of it removed.
I have no idea how I am going to get through this and I am scared.
Already I am tired of people telling me stuff like “keep the faith. Let go and let God.”
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t believe in God. Hearing that doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel worse. I WISH I could hang on to that kind of thing, but I know in my heart it’s not real.
I know people mean well.
I just want to be Susan again:
Bill’s wife who runs the house and waits for her husband to come home so we can eat dinner and hang out together and maybe go to our favorite restaurant and thrift shopping now and then.
The scoop for now:
4 cm rectal tumor, low, one suspicious node. Chemo and radiation and surgery in April.
Have I mentioned we never get sick or go to doctors?
Turkey sat at the head of the beautifully-decorated table. He paused for a moment and smiled at everyone seated with him.
Then he reached out and joined hands with the Stuffing who in turn picked up Deviled Eggs hand who then clasped hands with Mashed Potatoes (whose new little one Gravy slept pressed against her chest).
Since Mashed Potatoes had her other hand full, her wife Green Bean Casserole picked up hands with Dinner Roll who reached out and picked up Weird Jello Salad’s hand who smiled and joined hands with her new husband, Relish Tray, who then picked up Old Man Pumpkin Pie’s hand who then gave a kiss to his wife of 50 years, Cool Whip, as he took her sweet soft wrinkled hand.
Grandma Cool Whip then closed the circle as she joined hands with Turkey.
They said their prayer to Mother Earth, thanking her for the bountiful blessings in their lives including this day that they were sharing together.
Then they looked at the loaded table which held massive amounts of sushi, Dominos pizza, ice cream, cotton candy and doughnuts.
And they ate.
Til their stomachs were stretched and uncomfortable and they needed Turkey to go out to Walgreens to get some Tums.
The Rockefeller Christmas tree stood tall in the lights of the big city in the middle of a cold night.
Sore from having branches added to his body and lights wrapped around him and a huge-ass electric star planted on his head, he had read the news stories about how everyone was making fun of him because he didn’t look superstar perfect.
“I’m a damn tree,” he thought to himself as a cool wind curled through him trying to offer a bit of comfort. “Nature doesn’t screw with what it looks like. We’re perfect as is. Only the human douchebags work so hard to change themselves so they’ll look perfect…whatever perfect looks like.”
He sighed and looked up to see the stars.
He couldn’t see a single one. Not even the Swarovski one on top of his head.
He instantly felt homesick for his forest.
“I don’t want to die here,” Tree thought.
A few seconds ticked by as he listened to the wind. Something clicked inside.
“I’m gonna get out of here,” he decided.
He began to tremble and shake his trunk and branches as hard as he could, managing to shimmy off the spikes and break the giant wires that had held him prisoner.
Passersby froze in their tracks at the sight of the tree making a break for it.
They started shouting for him to come back as he bounced as fast as he could on his trunk down the street like a coniferous pogo stick.
The people began to chase him.
Panicked, he bounced faster, needles and cones and lights and his man-made star falling off. His heart raced as he sweated sap, trying his very best.
As the frenzied crowd began to catch up, he felt himself growing tired. How was an old ginormous spruce ever going to make it out of this place? By then, police and fire engine sirens pierced his ears and obscured his vision. Local news helicopters flew in circles overhead. People on the street surrounded him, jumping to grab and restrain him.
Tree was exhausted and broken. His strength was all but gone. For being such an imperfect tree, the humans sure didn’t want him to go. He was undoubtedly going to be taken right back to the stage he had been chained to and mocked from.
Tears sprang to his eyes as he looked back up to see if he could see the stars just one last time.
And what he saw when he did, he couldn’t believe.
Flying toward him as fast as he could was the baby saw-whet owl who stowed away inside him on their fateful journey to The Big Apple. Following behind were hundreds of birds who broke out of the Ravensworth Wildlife Center for the night, just to help Baby Owl rescue his friend.
“Whoooo!! Whooo!” Baby Owl hooted as he held his wings out wide and lowered his talons to grab and lift Tree into the air.
“Baby Owl!!” Tree cried, pogo-sticking mightily with all he had left.
And all the other birds grabbed on to his tired branches and lifted Tree into the sky, rising high above the city.
The humans stood speechless as they watched them float above the buildings, then zoom away into the night.
The cool wind changed direction to help with the getaway.
Tree cried happy tears as Baby Owl nuzzled his needles once again.
“Thank you, Baby Owl,” said Tree.
“Whooo. Whooo!” Baby Owl hooted back.
Then they made like bats out of hell.
As Tree enjoyed the peaceful flight, he felt his tension drift away. Tree glanced at the sky again.
I had been bugging my husband for a dog. We’ve always had dogs in our house, but for the past year, we hadn’t. Penny, our epileptic Golden Retriever, passed away in April 2019.
Ever since then, my husband and I would always talk about how great it was not having a dog.
Quiet and clean home, no poop in the backyard, no need to take walks around the block every day, no fleas or fear of skunk attacks, no going in and out of the backdoor 3000 times a day.
Our two cats were happy with their peaceful home without a furry playful canine in it.
But leave it all up to me to throw a wrench in the works.
I had to have a dog.
Last Saturday, Bill saw a dog on a local shelter’s site, and much to my amazement, he actually called the place to inquire about him. Turns out, he was being adopted as they spoke.
We went about with our day and did a little thrift shopping. On our way home, I asked if we could just go to the pet store in town to see puppies. To see if we liked them. To maybe hold one just to get the itch out of my system.
You know how this turns out, don’t you?
This is Molly Bernice–our 8-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog.
She’s very cute, isn’t she? That may have had something to do with the decision to purchase. What a surprise, huh?
I’d like to say–Molly is a very good girl so far.
I’d like to write more here, but unlike just a week ago, my time here is limited. She’s asleep in her crate for the morning nap time and I have litter boxes to clean and laundry to start.
I look and feel like a giant mess– sweaty from working, wearing old, ratty clothes, our house is not perfect, and I’m pretty tired. I feel like I did when I brought home new human babies.
But this is what I wanted. I’m going to try to let go of the obsession to keep the house perfect and just enjoy this. We aren’t getting any younger–who knows how many more puppies we will be able to have?