Yesterday, fellow cancer ass-kicker and blogger Mina over at Cocktails and Chemo wrote a great post about how she feels after treatment. Stronger? Not so much. Changed? Absolutely.
It’s interesting to me how so many of us are left feeling exactly the same way after treatment. I could have written that post. Just like I could have written the one from Stephanie at Pass me Another Cupcake.
So how do *I* feel? Most of the time, I’m annoyed.
When I was in treatment, I had a plan and a purpose to each day. Get up and fight this thing. That meant doctors appointments, treatment, counselling, a lot of watching TV and resting and knitting. But I had a purpose, a direction and a team of professionals guiding me and supporting me.
Now that active treatment is over, I am nowhere. I still go every 3 weeks for Herceptin, but I’ve also gotten bumped twice from speaking to the oncologist to make room for new more pressing cases. I get it. I totally get it because last year, I was the one causing other people to be bumped.
The thing is, I have questions. Like why I haven’t I started Tamoxifen? And what the heck can I do about these insane hot flashes? Can I take something for the wicked leg pains in the morning? If I get the DIEP surgery, does that impact the rate of recurrence in the tissue? I could go on and on, I have so many questions. But no one to answer them for another 10 days. Fingers crossed that appointment doesn’t get bumped again.
I’m also annoyed that I feel worst now than I did during most of the treatment. On a daily basis, my pain/annoyance scale is at 3. Sure, during treatment it was sometimes 8 or 9, but it was always short, and there was always something I could do about it. Pain? Dilaudid. Nausea? Gravol. Cough? Saw the specialist. Now, I wake up 2 to 3 times a night in a sweat, I can’t stand up in the morning because my knees and ankles are too stiff, I try to go to work but I have to leave mid-day to take a nap… And don’t get me started on the phantom itching.
Now? I get to talk to nurse G. She reassures me everyone goes through this and that yes, all of these annoying ongoing side effects are normal, but there isn’t much to do. So I’m stuck. Stuck in this State of Limbo. Interestingly enough, nurse G was telling me she is working on a possible program for women in the 30s and 40s who are post-treatment. Because she hears the same things over and over again ‘people expect me to be back to normal’, ‘people think I’m passed cancer’, ‘I want to go back to work but I don’t feel able to’, ‘everyone expects me to be happy it’s over, but it’s not over’….
There is comfort in knowing I’m not the only one going through these emotions. But it’s still annoying.
While I am feeling quite stuck in State of Limbo, I will be taking a brief jaunt out of here and head to NYC for my almost-annual visit to the gift show. More importantly though, I am going to hang with my pal Mrs. Figby for some much overdue wine-drinking and trash-tv watching. I’ll be back next week!