I'm still grappling with my diagnosis of HER2+ breast cancer. I haven't made it public on social media and I'm just starting to share it here. I have so many emotions that envelope me. There are good days and there are bad days. There are days I feel like a warrior and there are days that I just want to snuggle in and hunker down and ride out the wave of grief and terror in the safety of my family room couch. A lot of my emotions are tied to how my diagnosis and illness affect my children. It's always been about my children. I find that writing about my journey, my fears, my thoughts helps me to process all of it. And sometimes it just too big for me. I have big feelings and always have. My concern is how to allow my feelings to come out and how it affects my children. I don't want to scare them, but if I don't show some of the hardships, then it is a lie.
Most of the time when people ask "How are you?" I tell them the standard answer: fatigued. Fatigue is a safe answer. People are okay with that answer. They can understand fatigue. But not all of them understand the terror or the rage. I reserve those answers for my husband during the long evening walks around the neighborhood. I don't have to hide my feelings from him. He lets me cry and yell and throw things. I also share my real struggles with a friend who has undergone the pain of breast cancer. She doesn't chastise me for being angry. She doesn't tell me that I can't be angry. She tells me straight on: "Dude, it's sucks." And while she won't let me pity myself, she also doesn't tell me it's going to be easy or that it's all going to be okay, but because we quite frankly don't know. She sends the virtual hug and raises a glass to me and stands with me in solidarity.
And through it all, I am still in shock that I have breast cancer. I also know that I can frame this experience for my children. The world is in a standstill right now. We're all sheltering at home. In some ways this makes it easier, because then we don't have to worry as much about the germs that we can bring in from the outside and we have a better control of what we touch or who we interact with. For my husband, it's the grocery store. For me it's the lab for the weekly blood draws and the oncology nurses and the reclining chair for my weekly infusions. It's much harder to rein in four children who would interact with easily a hundred people in a given day if they were attending school. So I'm grateful that they are home. They understand the seriousness of my illness and to their credit, not one of them has complained about having to stay home.
We've spent our time watching movies, working on puzzles, coloring, listening to books, reading books, and cooking s'mores over the fire pit. My children have seen the fatigue, the naps, and the tears. I hope that's not the only thing they see and I write about it here: What will my Children Remember?
It's a journey. I'm still processing. And through it all I'm just as discombobulated as ever.