OK, so I just need to vent and whine. It is my blog. And I do intend to tell the story as truthfully as possible, though sometimes I want to put a happier spin on things for the benefit of those that just don't like bad news or who might not want to hear how cancer treatment really feels.
But there is pain. I mean, not the excruciating pain that I know Christ suffered when He died on the cross for OUR sins. And not terrible pain like that from an accident or from a war injury. And not the pain like those parents and families of the children and administration from Sandy Hook Elementary are feeling. Pain is all relative.
This is the kind of pain that sort of starts to play tricks on you. I feel like it is sort of similar to what you hear of "Chinese water torture". It's this constant, nagging, sometimes just dull but other times very strong pain that seems to just keep going....like the Energizer bunny....on and on and on. It started back in the summer of 2011 with this lump that was sore and always seemed to be in the way of an elbow, or a box, or a book. And then there was a little pain as a result of a mammogram (nothing terrible so don't use it as an excuse to avoid one!). And then six months later, the pain had come and gone and come again. This time, a mammogram and ultrasound led to a new pain in the form of a biopsy. Again, there is far worse pain, but it wasn't comfortable. And then the pain of hearing the words "I'm afraid it is cancer." Those were some of the most painful words I have heard to date. Later more tests, biopsies all leading up to surgery. A right-side mastectomy, the placement of my port, followed later (3 weeks) by lymph node removal. OK, bigger pain recovering from both surgeries. Hearing that my cancer would require chemo was painful as well. Emotionally it was crushing me. When the chemo began and a Neulasta injection came the following day, I began the experience of "bone pain"...something not easily described and incredibly debilitating for me at the time. Headaches due to the medications. Joint pain and neuropathy came along as well. And then chemo ended and radiation began. I tolerated it pretty well at first, but I now have sores across my chest and under my arm that blistered and are terribly uncomfortable. I can't seem to get them to heal properly and it has delayed completing my radiation. The fact that these sores are where your skin always touches clothing and always seems to keep in motion, or get pulled, stretched or squished makes them even more painful.
But today I had the first of the last five "boost" (radiation) treatments. And I am going to push through it. Because I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, there are more tunnels ahead, but this one is almost over.
I'm mentally exhausted because of just fighting with myself about the pain that I am experiencing. Physically, I'm tired because I have trouble sleeping when I cannot get comfortable. I just want my old arm back. I don't need the missing breast. I just need my right arm to quit being sore. My surgery was in May and it still doesn't feel or function like it did. And I am right-handed and do accounting work, so it is important that I can get it functioning at 100%. My arm does not feel like my own and I want the pre-cancer, pre-surgery arm back now. This is getting ridiculous.
There are times when I just want to throw in the towel. I want to give up. I just want to cry. It gets to be too much. I feel like a crazed monkey or something because I just want to find something to take away the pain. But I don't want to take pain medications because they just scare me. And people who haven't been through this don't understand. I feel like they think I am weak. Maybe they too have felt pain and theirs was worse. But this is still MY pain and MY body and MY life and it hurts. It is hard fighting from inside a body that feels so broken. I feel betrayed by this body, this shell. And at the same time, I need to help heal this broken body so that I can be here for many more years.
My kids will start kindergarten next Fall. I need to be here for them. They will lose their first tooth, have a science fair project, learn to play a sport and/or an instrument and I need to be in the crowd cheering them on. I want to be here for their first school dance, a first love, graduation from high school and then, maybe college....weddings? Babies? I NEED to be here for those things. I have to pick up these pieces of this mangled body and pickled mind and push through this stupid, annoying pain. And try not to drive everyone around me crazy as I do so.
I hate to be a "downer" and I feel like I disappoint people when I am frustrated, angry, sad or uncomfortable with my cancer, the treatments or the process. But it is a journey. Start to finish. Ups and downs. And I have my blog to help me (and maybe help someone else) get through it. Today might really suck. There is no other word for it. Some part of your cancer journey, or my cancer journey might really be pounding on you/me, but there is always tomorrow, or next week, or kindergarten, or graduation or something to keep us/me pressing on.