Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One Ticket to Crazy Town Please

This is the third attempt at a blog entry in a week and hopefully I can finally write something that makes sense, is worth reading and accurately captures what is happening in my head right now. It is jumbled and messy - thoughts are stop starting all the time. I feel like I am on a one way train to Crazy Town.

I remember feeling similarily the last time I finished treatment - mixed up, directionless, anxious and just abit lost. Finishing treatment is a great thing and from the outside looking in, one would imagine you would feel so relieved and happy to be done with such a horrible thing. But what you don´t know is that when you are categorised as a "patient", you can lean on it like a crutch. People don´t expect as much from you and you are allowed to just be. However when you are done, expectations return and many people think that you are automatically back to normal. But the truth is that you never really get back to any kind of normal ever again because my definition of normal is forever changed. Just living is good enough.  It is also scary to lose the routine and comfort that comes with a set plan that you must simply follow through, no questions asked. But then suddenly you are cut loose, to navigate the world again without the safety net that strangely comes with cancer. When you walk out those doors after that last treatment, I compare the feeling to walking straight off a cliff. Freefalling into nowhere and having no clue where you will land. Many fellow patients have echoed this sentiment at the close of their treatments as well so I am not the only soldier in this boat.  I guess it is important for the people supporting someone who has battled cancer to remember that things don´t necessarily get easier when things are done and that we actually might require even more support when the cancer curtain closes. I have thoughts that overwhelm me and this suffocating pressure to get my life back to normal now but then my body forces me to remember what it has been through. I think last weekend was a tough love lesson from my own body to tell me to slow the f#c% down. Do I listen? Not always. Like today - something happened when I woke up that threw me into another hysterical tailspin. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and my husband was cool as a cucumber. I thought to myself - why can´t I stop sweating the small stuff? I had cancer for god´s sake - this isn´t life or death. And this anger...god where is it coming from? I feel so much of it right now - at people, situations...I wanted to scream at this man who took the last 2 bbq chickens at the shop recently while I stood beside him clearly waiting for the same thing! I wanted to pull out my cancer card and shove it in his face. Of course I am a classy lady and did nothing of the kind but boy did I want to. And now today with this new situation i have to sort out - I just don´t feel like I have the capacity to manage it but I have to and it makes me so mad. Why can´t anything go smoothly I ask - dear universe? (Yes I am playing the victim today so just deal with it) Why can´t you give my husband and I, some kind of a break? So much of our life together has felt like this uphill battle and I can´t help but turn all the blame and anger towards CANCER! I keep thinking that we would never be dealing with this or that if cancer had not come to town, not once but twice. And this poisonous anger seeps its way into all aspects of my life right now. It hardly brings out the best in me so I use my reserve energy to project the image that everything is okay. I do my hair, I put on nice clothes, I do what has to be done in the house to keep it clean, I write a little love note to my daughter in her lunch box and I try to be a good wife. It isn´t like there is an option to simply fall apart but boy do I have the urge to smash a few plates on the wall. Maybe it is part of being a woman and a mother that forces us to dig deep and hang on for dear life. Just because I feel like parts of me are crumbling, it doesn´t mean that my daughter´s hair won´t be brushed and plaited every morning. Just because I want to scream, it doesn´t mean that I can´t kiss my husband goodnight. Just because I feel obsolete sometimes, it doesn´t mean that I can´t be there to support a friend go through her own pain. I have written about this before but I will mention it again and again because it is probably one of the most important lessons I have learned through my cancer experience. Everyone has got their something - some of us cope with our challenges differently so it is essential that those of us that are stronger have a responsibility to be there for those who feel weak. Just because I have had cancer, it doesn´t mean i can´t be a shoulder to cry on for someone else. Life isn´t a competition and it isn´t a contest of who is most miserable or worse off. We just need to be there for one another as much as we can. Life is hard enough don´t you think?



  1. Oh OBB! What you are feeling is common. (Really super extremely like WOWSA common!) But it's not understood by folks outside the cancer tent.

    The expectation is that once our treatment ends, there "should" be a sigh of relief by all involved parties and a getting on "with it" (whatever "it" is; kinda whatever other people need "it" to be. It's not about us!).

    The good news is that all the involved parties (except for us!) actually DO get to enjoy that feeling of relief. The bad news? We do not. Because that's precisely the fork in the sand where we go left... straight off the cliff (as you mentioned above) and everyone else hangs a right to safety.

    And therein lies the anger, like a hungry little snake hiding in the grass. One small, seemingly insignificant move by anyone and BAM! Our anger is unleashed (or wants to be!). I don't know how much energy you have, but take a walk by yourself, somewhere where you can scream and shout and no one will hear you. (The car is also good for this.) If only there were more "anger rooms" in the world! (Business Week wrote about them here: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-25/odd-jobs-anger-room-proprietor).

    Every cancer center should have one.

    One thing I know for sure: I (and many in the blogosphere) are here for you! And if you ever get on Twitter, use the bat signal #BCSM (which stands for breast cancer social media) and you'll find support at any hour of the day.

    {{{hugs}}} to you, dear OBB!! You are not alone.

    1. Dear Renn, Wow anger rooms sound amazing and so utterly necessary. Why have I not heard of this before. I want one! Forget panic rooms people. And why is it that so many of us feel this tsumani after treatment but no one warns you about except in these networks? No doctor even prepared me for this before it happened so maybe it is something that should be addressed at the close of treatment. I do want to check out this twitter chat but actually need to figure out how it works. Techno challenged! Thanks for ure wonderful insight and eloquently worded comment. xxx

  2. You are absolutely right about everything, and oddly, I feel sad that you have such insight at an age when you deserve to be oblivious and carefree. Take this hard-earned knowledge of life and keep doing what you're doing every day. The best of life is in the little moments of connection with your husband, daughter and friends. They are lucky to have you. We are lucky that you share your life so honestly with us on line.

    1. I do wish I could still be the carefree fun loving girl I was before this all happened. I guess the insight and knowledge I have taken from this is the good part of a pretty crappy experience. I completely agree with the little moments and how beautiful they are. There are these little routines my daughter and I have that keep me sane, together and joyful for the fact she is in my life. x

  3. dear kate,

    for all that you have been through, who could blame you for feeling like you are going right out of your mind. lately, I have been on a bit of a rant about many of the very issues you bring up - how lost and abandoned we feel when we're not the patient any more, how we no longer have the honed-in-upon focus and care of our medical team, and how others expect that if we're done with chemo and rads and surgery and whatever else the fuck we've gone through that it's some how "over" for us - they just do not get that it's not only not over, but that a whole new landscape riddled with land mines will be ours to negotiate for the rest of our lives.

    I think what we suffer from primarily is grief, the aching and longing for all we have lost that is never coming back and will never be the same, the dreamed of lives we planned and anticipated with such happiness and joy, the clusterfuck of mind games that breast cancer imposes upon us. no wonder we feel angry, isolated, lonely, and at times, simply desolate. unless others have been where we've been, there is no way for them to truly understand.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the medical community seems to ignore our grieving and does not have a place for it in an after-care plan??

    I am so sorry for what you are going through; but I think your heart is both generous to the struggles of others, and receptive to the love and care that gets sent your way. so I believe that the give and take of concern and compassion will be very healing for you, kate. and throwing a stack of plates couldn't hurt!

    much love and light, XOXOXOXO