Letting Go

I had to do this for fellow patients.  I wanted to show them they were not alone, it is normal to be fearful, and it is better to talk about it.

Many of my emotions during treatment were unconsciously hidden, because I was constantly sick.  I wasn’t dealing with the fear of death and how to live after cancer.  But the emotions were there, some how manifesting their way through my veins.  There were no heavy bursts of stress during my treatments, but there was one time I remember feeling extremely sad.

I was sitting in my usual spot on the couch of the family room.  We had intentionally built an open concept, so being in the kitchen wouldn’t isolate you from every one.  My mother and mother-in-law were standing around the granite-top island just chatting – for the rare moments my mother was not cooking or cleaning or taking care of the children.

It was after lunch, and my daughter and nephew were having their nap.  They would each take a spot on the couches there, with a blanket and pillow.  Some times they would speak and laugh with each other until my mother would get upset.  They would sleep for a couple of hours.

Suddenly, I burst into tears.  Trying to be inconspicuous, I rested one hand on my forehead and my forearm covering my face, turning my head away from the kitchen, hoping my mother wouldn’t see or hear me.  But she asked me what was wrong.  I wasn’t completely sure.  “Nothing.”

“So why are you crying?”  She must have felt some sadness seeing me in a state of vulnerability that I hadn’t shown her during the ordeal.

I admitted finally, perhaps not truly understanding what was going through my mind,  “I just feel… ugly with this handkerchief on my head, and I’m so skinny.”  I must have weighed about ninety-five pounds at that time.  And I always wore the special headkerchiefs Lyanne had brought me when she visited me at the hospital.

Perhaps it was more than that physical detesting, but a feeling as though my life was taken away.  I felt alone and knew no one could help me with this.  God knows I had so much support around me.  The nurses and doctors would write in my file that “the patient is well surrounded.”  Unfortunately, no one could take away that paralyzing feeling that I may die any minute.  How does one support death so near?

 

I would like to sincerely thank each of you, from over twenty-five countries, who continue to support me in my endeavor.  Writing this memoir has helped me heal emotionally, and provided the strength to continue helping others with their struggle. 

Soon, I will leave my efforts to the professionals, and let them take the reigns to help me create a memoir that will inspire and hopefully lead to a path of peace of mind. 

I take this opportunity to wish each of you much peace, health, and happiness during the holiday period (whether or not you celebrate it), as well as a new year filled with all that you desire.  Remember to do some good deeds, so that you can participate in changing the negativity around the world. 

See you on January 9, 2018!

Be well always!

Patricia

I Dare You

A year or two after my treatments, I contacted the gentleman once or twice more to see how he was doing.  I was always afraid to call and find out he had passed, but each time I had, he told me he was well.  It’s been several years now… I wouldn’t dare try again.

In our initial conversation, when I asked him about maintaining a healthy weight, he told me his wife took very good care of him, and,  “She makes me lots of meat and potatoes.”

I could tell he had a smile on his face.  I couldn’t believe that he had put on twenty pounds since his lowest weight.  Keeping up my skeletal look was difficult enough.

What I would give to put on twenty pounds!  You don’t hear that very often, right?  Putting on two pounds gets me excited, even though it takes months, but losing them is very easy and discouraging.

I asked Hope & Cope about him years ago, but they hadn’t heard from him, since he was not an active member.  Surely, he’s doing well?

Underrated Assistance

After I was operated, and before my radiation and chemotherapy began, I was put in contact with a volunteer from Hope & Cope.  Volunteer-based, Hope & Cope is a well-recognized association offering a wide support to cancer patients through guidance, resources, and research to help patients and their loved ones cope with diagnosis, treatment, psychosocial needs, and, certainly in some cases, bereavement.

I contacted a gentleman a couple of times who had experienced the same cancer and treatments.  He was about a year ahead of me and some years older.  There are no words to express how helpful knowing, despite the slim chance of survival, another person has made it through.  The exchange was comforting, and I didn’t feel so alone.  I felt understood and hopeful.

Unfortunately once my treatments began, I was too ill to continue in my conversations with the volunteer.  Speaking brought on nausea, if I didn’t already have it from the chemotherapy.  I would begin to gag if I spoke more than a couple of sentences.

Nausea still affects me, albeit less often than in the first few years following treatments.  Whether I speak for a lengthy period, become stressed, overeat, or simply wake up with the feeling, it cannot be ignored.