I started. I started again. But I still don’t know where to begin. Now it’s ending, and I don’t know how to conclude.
The treatment, at least, is ending. Kind of. There’ll be maintenance chemo for two years.
The thing with cancer, with the cancer I have, I am told, is that it never really ends. People who’ve had it tell me to be prepared for it to come back. And even if it does end, you don’t know for sure that it has ended. The prospect of its return continues to weigh.
And yet, I believe and have to believe it’ll go away. I have to treat it like it will go away. Because it can. That happens. Right?
At first, I collected and stored up 18, 24, 30 year survival stories. They were all I could hear. Now I’m open (ish) to other tales. I don’t crumble or run and hide when I hear them (yay). The fact is, no other cancer story is my story. And the one that does or will resemble mine... well hopefully, it will take many years to know.
In the meantime, I’ve developed an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with my treatment. As long as I’m being pumped full of toxins, I feel as though I'm protected by a bunch of badly behaved “peacekeeping” troops patrolling my borders, Nothing nasty, except the peacekeepers themselves, can penetrate or take root. But most of them are pulling out shortly, leaving only a handful behind to scout things out, drink, and fuck with the locals every few months.
The emotional consequence of this impending unknown is a life seasoned unreliably with sadness, anxiety, fear, anger. I feel totally PMS, even though I have no M left. I have road rage, lineup rage, parent rage, service-sector incompetence rage, rage rage. But it’s all random. This morning I didn’t flip when the 10 year-old knocked a full container of cereal all over the floor and yelled “It’s not my fault.”
I can’t drag my 5 ft 9 in. teenager up the stairs to bed, so when he says he’s getting off the computer and doesn’t, I ask again and again – louder and louder. Then I threaten to remove the computer altogether for the next two days. When he finally wanders upstairs and I yell at him for being rude and disrespectful, he tells me he’d already chosen the no computer for two days option, so saw no reason to come up earlier.
Maybe I would have reacted to this in the same way pre-cancer. Remind me to check back in post-cancer (how’s that for optimistic?). It’s all about energy. "Energetic" looks different now than it used to. 4:00 in the afternoon feels like time to crash. I can't nap so I use the time for emotional instability and crankiness. I’ve coined a new acronym for what I have: PES. Pre/Post Everything Syndrome.
Exhaustion keeps catching me by surprise. Fear is tiring. I’m hopeful it’s the major culprit in my M-less PMS, my PES. I'm hopeful that, in time, it will lift.
The end. Or not.