Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day 1,300: Looking Forward

I know I should write tomorrow, though I might be too out of it. I'm sure I will write on Friday. But I need to get this off my disfigured chest tonight.

Tomorrow is my last chemo treatment. I say that, but I don't like to say that. I said it before, back in 2010, and it was a lie. Tomorrow is the last chemo treatment that I know of, right now. It's possible that at some point, even in the near future, I will find out I have mets and be on chemo for the rest of my short life. I know that is not an uplifting thing to say. I'm not sure at what point cancer was supposed to be uplifting, but our culture seems to have embraced that idea. Anyway, this uncomfortable statement is a possibility, and one that I live with every day. I will not be "done" with cancer appointments after tomorrow--it doesn't really work that way. I see my surgeon for a six month follow up from my mastectomy tomorrow (that is so hard to believe, that I have been living with this alien thing in my body, with this amputation, for almost half a year), I will have a diagnostic ultrasound for the cysts in my ovaries at the end of the month, I will at some point have this tube removed from my fake breast that was there in case I wanted to "pump it up," I have a mammogram for the right side coming up in May, and the clock will start over with my regular appointments with the oncologist; I graduated only briefly to 6 months, and now will be back at 2 or 3 months.

It will be over in a sense, but only a narrow one, and not over, at all, in my mind.

Yesterday I had that crushing depression again. Perhaps it's hormones--my period is late, shows no signs of emerging, though I am not sad about that really due to the blood loss from last month, however I do worry all the time about permanent menopause. Gabe and I got in a huge fight last night (yes, that happens), and it was partly because of my depression and partly because I have become increasingly frustrated with what I perceive to be everyone's expectation that I will always be normal, always feel normal, that I will just keep working, doing housework, taking care of everyone else, deal with 12 small domestic crises at once, be a bad ass at the gym, or whatever. The truth is I am tired. I am physically tired--this chemo fatigue is something else. And I have given up nothing, pared down nothing, haven't taken it easy, have actually piled on more responsibility rather than less. I feel that I've earned the right to be tired, but my saying that seems to take folks, including my husband, by surprise.

So I'm physically tired, and that makes things hard, but I'm also tired in another sense. I am tired of cancer. I am tired of treatment for cancer. I am tired of this nonsense that fell into my life like a huge pile of bullshit. It mostly doesn't MATTER than I'm tired of it, because what needs to be done needs to be done, but I am definitely looking forward to having a break.

I am also looking forward to looking forward without some crushing feeling of sadness.

Last night, I couldn't put my kids to bed. We often take turns so it wasn't that big of a deal, but I was just...sobbing in my living room. And I'm not even good at sobbing. I can do it for about 2 minutes, and then it just stops, whether I want it to or not. I sat there, thinking about the years. All the years. The ones I might miss. My kids young adulthood, their emerging personalities and hardships and loves and everything. The idea of missing it all. The idea of missing my own future, my own middle and old age. So then I told Gabe that he should make sure to tell the kids about me after I'm gone, but that he shouldn't be too maudlin about the whole thing.

No one ever wants to hear anyone talk about death, especially people who have reason to believe they might die sooner rather than later. But I have cheated death 5 times--5. I don't have to apologize anymore. I have little to no nostalgia about the past--I think about it a lot, but I feel no loss or longing. I long for the future. I want to keep telling stories. I want to have stories to tell that take place in 20 years. I want to just be healthy and live in my body like it is a normal body, though it never has been, regardless of what it looks like, this body is a story itself, a character in its own right. May it take a long, long, time to get to the end.


  1. Katy, I read everything you write, and I never cease to be grateful for the honest beauty of your voice. Thank you for the gift of your view of this world.

    I hope tomorrow is your last chemo treatment. Ever. We're allowed to hope, right?

  2. I'm with Allison. You always manage to… speak with such wisdom and grace and… from a place of peace and immense perspective. All of which someone like me will never come close to.
    And coming here, reading this tonight… was hard. I am pretty healthy. I am not undergoing chemo. I haven't cheated death five times. yet I sit her and skulk and wallow about with this depression & anxiety. It's not fair. You are the one who deserves a healthy body. I wish I could trade you mine (not that you'd want it, I mean, oh crap, I don't even know how crappy this must all sound, which is probably why it's better I don't comment). I'm just saying…congrats on your last chemo, and I hope it's the last one --- EVER.

  3. "What needs to be done needs to be done" You DESERVE and probably NEED a mini vacation away from your responsibilities of work and home. A little warmth, sunshine and the company of a good friend would probably be just what the doctor ordered to lift your spirits and renew some of your energy. I really hope YOU feel you are worth it. Julie

  4. No apologies, I agree. And tired makes everything worse. Celebrating your last-for-now Chemo from my frozen corner of the Internet!!

  5. I wish we could collectively pull this weight off of you. That is all.

  6. I don't really know what to say except I hear you. I'm reading. And I'm hoping for a very long story for you.

  7. My mother's also has an cancer but he is now totally ok after Chemo . Hope your best luck