“Don’t get your hopes up.”
The very last thing I told myself leaving my follow-up appointment with my surgeon.
Seems like relatively simple instructions, doesn't?
Well, apparently I listen about as well as my 8-year-old.
I got my hopes up.
Which now leaves me in the strangely awkward position of having to give myself the “I told you so” lecture.
Truthfully, it can’t entirely be my fault… I mean, picture this:
You’re a student who knows the big end-of-year exam is coming and you’re dreading it. About a month before, your teacher says there’s a 50-50 chance that perhaps you won’t have to write it this year. Hallelujah, right? So you cross your fingers, your toes, your eyes… whatever you can in the hopes that you will be one of the lucky ones who can avoid this killer exam. Then, you get a call from your teacher right before the scheduled date and find out that, in fact, you have to write it after all.
It shouldn’t be a HUGE surprise, right? All year you knew it was coming, and here it is. But it was that tiny glimmer of hope that took hold in your heart and grew and grew that now leaves you feeling about 1000 times more disappointed and stressed out than you would have been if you’d just blindly followed the typical course of action.
Well, my oncologist was my teacher, and that dreaded final exam? Chemotherapy. It’s happening. My name is on the test paper, and truthfully, I’m pretty sure all the last minute cramming wouldn’t help the end result anyway.
Somewhere within the next month or so, I’ll have no choice but to face some of my biggest fears head-on:
• How am I going to look without hair?
• What sort of potential damage could these poisons inflict upon my body long-term?
• What if I’m in the 15% of the population that has to endure all of this with no positive outcome?
• What if this burden is just too much for my rockstar husband to have to deal with?
• What if I’m just not mentally tough enough to truly beat this?
• What if I’m not there to watch my sweet little boy grow up?
So many questions, so many fears… and truthfully, so little time to be worrying about any of them. The reality is, this is not the Fall season I would have planned for myself and my family, however, it’s the one that I seem to have been dealt. Therefore, doing anything other than dealing with all aspects of this situation head on and one step at a time appears to be wasted energy. Why worry about what “might” happen, when I need all the energy I’ve got to tackle what “is” happening?
Admittedly, it does wear on a person to continually listen to how rare, aggressive, invasive, and complicated my situation is. The only positive I’ve managed to squeeze out of any of the medical professionals I’ve encountered so far is that we caught it early. So I’m going to cling to that affirmation and wholeheartedly believe that it is that element of the diagnosis that is going to be the thing that works in our favour and gets us through this successfully.
Let’s get this straight – I don’t want to do this. I’m scared. And I hate not knowing what the outcome of any given situation will be – particularly one with such life-impacting circumstances. But I can’t worry about that right now. I need to get this journey behind me – and unfortunately that can’t happen without starting the treatment process. But I will get through it – and I will figure out what this voyage is supposed to teach me. I’m pretty sure I’ve got many more things that I need to accomplish in this lifetime. I may not know what they are, but I’m determined to find out. More importantly, my son has important things to achieve and, come hell or high water, I intend to be there in his cheering section every step of the way for years to come.
So here we go. Time for a deep breath… maybe two… A decaf double-tall non-fat latte for the road and off we go. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to feel like… what I’m going to look like… how my body will respond… or what they outcome will be. The only thing I’m confident about is that I have incredibly strong & significant reasons for getting through this successfully – and I will be hugging each of them just a little bit longer every day from this point forward. Like the title of this blog says, with "two steps forward" and only "one step back", it may take a little longer, but you're still bound & determined to get there!