There are various phrases used to describe the second year of certain periods in life. The Terrible Twos. The Sophomore Slump. The Honeymoon Phase. I have yet to find the phrase that is applicable to the second year after being diagnosed with cancer, and I lack the creativity to come up with one. So, it is simply year two.
As I reflect on the past two years since being unwillingly inducted into this stupid club, I decided to mark year two in the same way that I commemorated the first year, with some thoughts and reflections about this past year. And just like last year’s blog, this will lack any wise words of wisdom, but it will be honest and genuine.
The fear is real, and it strikes when you least expect it. I definitely don’t live in fear, but I am more fearful than I used to be. Earlier this year, when I ended up in the emergency room courtesy of a full-blown panic attack, all of the tests ruled out a heart attack, but one revealed a suspicious lymph node. The last time a physician used suspicious to explain something that showed up during a test was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When the emergency room doctor uttered his findings, the panic really set in, as did the paralyzing fear. It was my constant companion until my surgeon drained the suspicious lymph node and declared it be an accumulation of lymphatic fluid at the site where he had removed lymph nodes a year earlier. The fear turned into relief, but this scenario has repeated itself whenever I have had physical symptoms out of the ordinary. I am not a hypochondriac, but I am afraid.
I am okay with my scar. One of my doctors became borderline obsessive about referring me to a plastic surgeon to make my scar from surgery disappear. Every time the subject was raised, I immediately shut it down. The doctor was concerned that someone else may have an issue with the scar. I was amused that the doctor thought that I had someone in my life who would be seeing my scar and insulted that she thought I would be with someone who would be repulsed by my scar. I see that scar every day, and I have never regretted my decision to keep it. It joins a multitude of other visible and invisible scars, and it is merely part of who I am.
People are more accepting of breast cancer than anxiety and depression. During the past few months, I have had bouts of anxiety and depression. Not once has anyone ever become frustrated, annoyed, or angry with me for having been diagnosed with breast cancer, but some people have when I have shared that I feel anxious or depressed again. It’s an interesting and sad observation.
This diagnosis did not change me for the better. After my initial diagnosis, I promised myself that I would live life to the fullest and become the very best person I could possibly be. I broke that promise. When treatment ended, I found myself getting caught up in the minutia of life that I swore I would not allow to entrap me ever again. The grind of work. Unnecessary drama. Never-ending household chores. I also found myself reverting to behaviors I swore I would renounce forever more. Over thinking. Worrying. Not being present for myself and others. I have wasted a lot of time and opportunities to be better and to do better. I am going to renew this promise to myself, and I probably will fail along the way, but I will keep trying.
This club sucks! During this past year, I have watched my bad ass friend fight with everything she has to beat lymphoma and another dear friend lose her husband to cancer. Still another friend is battling colon cancer, while another one is fighting breast cancer. These are just some of the people I know and love whose lives have been forever changed by this disease. How does cancer even still exist in this day and age?! Enough already!
I survived another year. That’s end of this blog, but it most certainly is not the end. I am ready for year two and every year after that.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story