When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was, “I don’t have time for this.” I remember thinking that I have two daughters, a full-time job, more than enough responsibilities, and a variety of interests to pursue. Thank you very much, but my dance card was full, so to speak. Then, the reality set in; I had to make time for this.
As I began to include all of the things that it takes to treat cancer to my calendar, I made the decision that I was not going to allow cancer to disrupt my daily life and the lives of my family. It has been business as usual. I have taken pride in myself for only taking two days off of work when I had surgery and for continuing to meet or exceed my daily work goals from the moment I was diagnosed, and I have not missed a beat with my daughters. Through it all, I repeatedly have found myself saying:
It’s just breast cancer.
It’s just a lumpectomy.
It’s just radiation.
It’s just Tamoxifen.
Then, yesterday, I did what I swore that I would never do. I took a sick day off from work. I hit the proverbial wall, and I hit it hard.
In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up in a cold sweat and ached from head to toe, and I was shaking uncontrollably. Despite feeling fatigued, I could not fall back asleep, so, by the time I arrived at my radiation appointment hours later, I felt beyond exhausted. After radiation therapy, the nurse took my vital signs and talked with me about my symptoms. She explained that radiation takes its toll on the body, and she concluded that I may have contracted a virus. Her suggestions that I take time off to rest were met with the familiar refrain of, “It’s just radiation”, and it was her response that made me change my tune.
She asked me what I meant about it being “just radiation“, and I explained that I had gotten off so easily with both my diagnosis and treatment, compared to others in this club. As we talked, I felt tears of frustration and exhaustion beginning to form. Suddenly, I was not feeling like such a bad ass anymore. I just felt like an ass.
From my perspective, taking a day off meant that I was not tough enough, and that was tough to admit. The nurse reassured me that taking time off was part of healing my body and mind from the assault that it has been under for the past few months, and she reassured me that it was okay and that I was okay.
After I waved the white flag and called in sick, I thought about an ongoing theme in my life. That underlying feeling of not being enough had reared its ugly head in the form of not being sick enough to take time off to recover and to regroup. I have been doing my best to keep everything as normal as possible, which is good up until a point, but there is nothing normal about any of this at all. Enough is enough.
So, after day of rest, I woke up this morning feeling better than I did yesterday. I hope that things are smooth sailing the rest of the way, but if not, I will do what is needed to right the ship, even if it is just breast cancer, just radiation, and/or just Tamoxifen.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story