Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Girl Who Lived

It is hot. It is in the 90s almost every day. And it’s humid. Sometimes I have flashbacks that I’m living in Florida again. Wearing a wig in this heat is a real pain in the ass. I’ve got a little hair now, so more and more I am just going without the wig. I do carry it with me, but it’s usually on my desk, in my purse, or in the car on the passenger’s seat.

The other morning I was driving through Starbucks with my wig sitting in the passenger’s seat. As the drive-thru guy handed out my coffee he proclaimed “Is that your little dog?!?”, in reference to the wig. Had I been quick on my feet, I would have said yes and would have asked him if he wanted to pet it. But I wasn’t, and just responded with a no and a chuckle.

Cancer still mentally consumes my thoughts far too much. I am trying to move forward with life. But it’s more difficult than I anticipated. It’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am anxiously awaiting my next scan and follow-up appointment. It’s supposed to be scheduled for late July/early August. I know that the cancer was gone right after the chemo, and that the radiation was another measure to keep it away. Now that some time has passed, it will be comforting to get confirmation that the plan really worked and that it really has stayed gone.

I still participate in a website/online community of cancer bloggers. I check in on the status of my fellow non-hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) friends regularly. Some are ahead of me in their progress – for example, one just got her first haircut post-chemo! Others are receiving chemotherapy or just finishing up. But so far, the folks I’ve come to know very well in our little group are alive and kicking. And that brings a lot of comfort. Recently, a new woman joined that has had NHL for many years. She is on about her fifth type of chemotherapy. I know that not everyone is cured, but now having someone in my little group who isn’t doing as well is scary for me. It reminds me that cancer can come back, and not everyone has a happy ending.

I try not to talk about this too much. After all, I’m the girl who lived! Why am I not running through the streets and shouting from the rooftops? And trust me, 95% of the time I am feeling nothing but gratitude and joy for the life I have. I believe I am the luckiest girl in the world. But I can’t ignore the fact that just 9 months ago I was diagnosed with a disease that had the potential to be terminal. And I spent 7 months going through hell to get rid of it. It’s hard to just bounce back and pretend it never happened. No matter how hard I try.

I think it is only natural to experience a bit of post-traumatic stress. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I feel this way. After all, it’s not even two full months after my last radiation treatment.

Only time can heal these feelings. Time and champagne. Because who can be melancholy while drinking champagne?

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