Why is this night different from all other nights

Tonight marks the first night of Passover, which is typically one of my favourite holidays. But right now, I am not in the festive mood. Unfortunately, the holiday decided to fall this year during my darkest of chemo days, so I do not get to celebrate. Thanks a bunch, lunar calendar. I am lying on a couch, alone, cursing the world, missing out on my family’s seder. I am not eating brisket or the many other delicious Jewish delicacies that soothe my soul. I would not even be able to taste the flavours if I tried. Instead of the happy, warm feelings I usually feel this time of year, I am filled with anger, sadness, loneliness. I am a Bitter Betty. Lately I feel as though holidays only exist as a painful reminder of what I am missing out on. What normal life was once like. I am watching life go by around me, and I want to jump in, but I can’t. And yes, I know one day, I will get back to living life and doing fun things and blah blah blah. I haven’t completely given up. But for today, I am having a big fat bad cancer day and I just want to wallow and feel sorry for myself. I want my damn brisket and I want to be able to taste it.

I want these so badly right now.
I want these so badly right now.

There was so much excitement over my last chemo round and ringing the bell and I thank all of you who rallied around me. It definitely makes everything easier, having nice friends like you. I wish I could be your happy cancer patient all the time. I wish I could be your shining beacon of positivity and let you know that you can make every day a great one if you just think happy thoughts, no matter how dire your situation. But the truth is, on days like this, when my drugs are making me completely looney and I can’t think straight and I haven’t slept more than a few hours in four days, positive thinking isn’t really going to get me anywhere.

I know for some people who are walking the cancer line, it is fundamental to their process to always keep on the sunny side. Always on the sunny side. And that is fine. Whatever gets you through. But for me, I have learned that sometimes I just need to be comfortable in my misery and sink into it. I don’t think this makes me weak, although all the images of super peppy cancer patients that saturate the media sometimes make me feel different. But I guess no one wants to see images of people crying all the time and looking like they’re a few inches away from death. Fair enough. If I were healthy and living my life, mostly oblivious of my own mortality, I wouldn’t want to think about those things either. But I don’t have that luxury. I have to stare at my reflection as I stumble past the mirror in my room in the middle of the night, and wonder who that shell of a person is and why she is standing in my place. No fuzzy, happy thoughts. Just reality. For the time being, at least.

Yesterday, I forced myself to go for a short walk with my husband, since the sun was actually out. I hid under my hood with my big sunglasses, as I often do these days. I started crying. I hate all these stupid bitches with their stupid hair. I actually said that out loud. I never in my life thought I would be so jealous of people, just for having hair. It’s not like it is their fault. You don’t have cancer, and I do. Bad luck for me, but no one’s fault. Yet still, it’s a challenge not to feel envious sometimes, of all you beautiful non-cancer types with your full heads of hair. Walking, laughing. Eating brisket. I want those things. I want them now.

I am pretty sure I will completely regret writing this post in a week when my chemo is wearing off and the steroids have left my system, but I do feel the need to document my worst days, for some reason. Maybe for the book I might write. Although I’m not sure if depressing cancer stuff is a hot topic for a bestsellers list. Maybe I just want to make other cancer folks who are reading this and having a crap day feel a bit less alone, or feel a bit less pressured to be something they are not. Or maybe when I do experience sweet moments again, I will want to look back at days and weeks like these, to make those moments that much sweeter and remind myself to savor every second. Like when I am one of those annoying bitches, walking around with my hair, without a care in the world. Oh what a day that will be.

Happy Passover to all.

Love, The Passover Grinch

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26 thoughts on “Why is this night different from all other nights

  1. I stumbled on to your blog and I just want to tell you that you are truly an incredible person. I am laughing and crying. You are the most amazing writer. You have inspired me and made me want to be a stronger person. I can’t imagine that you look like the bottom of a shoe because you sound like the most beautiful person I could imagine. You need to write a book. You need to do amazing things when you are all done with this fucking crap. You got an unfair deal, and I get it, my dad had cancer and now I have a disease where I am losing all my hair. But you seem so special that you have to get through it. I am blown away by your writing and don’t even know you but will think of you and will keep reading.

  2. My sister just forwarded your blog to me. I am a breast cancer survivor- i was also very young. One thing you have to look forward to: when your hair grows back in, you will NEVER have a bad hair day again. Any day with hair on my head is a good hair day, no matter how messy my hair is or how dishevelled my ponytail might be.

    Keep writing. It will help you get thru. Chemo is such a bizarre concept, such a strange detour in life. Best of luck to you.

  3. Steph keep up the good work. You have every right to feel the way you do. . I love your blog . when you feel lousy we feel so bad, than you bounce back and we are so happy. Please enjoy the rest of Passover with your wonderful husband and the rest of your family. love Rhoda and Sherwin

  4. Impressed by your articulation even during the shittiest shit. Also glad that you’re writing about the whole spectrum. Wouldn’t make much sense otherwise. Can’t even pretend to empathize to wrap my head around any of this, but thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi Steph – I found your blog from Huffington post a few weeks back, and have been checking regularly ever since. I don’t have anything especially insightful to offer, just wanted to wish you the very best though and hope you are on the upswing again soon!

  6. Please don’t apologize for being real. From those peppy cancer ads to any “real” housewives show, not much of what we see is real. (although I love them dramatic bitches!) Half of the “housewives” aren’t even wives! Geesh! My reality as a housewife is sadly much different from the what I see on tv. Not sadly, anyway I digress. Keep being real and letting out your emotions as they come. If you did keep them all in you just might turn into a Bitter Betty forever! And I don’t think that’s even close to who you are.

    1. Agreed. Steph, stop apologizing. It’s actually making us feel awkward. And it also makes us feel like you think there are folks in your life who can’t handle you at your worst. If you have any of those in your life, then by now you should have learned that a) you don’t need to make them feel better for your legit feelings, and b) you don’t want them in your life. Trust me when I say: A few folks in your life who accept all of who you are is better than a larger gaggle of people whose feelings you’re worrying about. Walking, laughing. Eating brisket: Those are the essentials. Not other people’s reactions to the events in your life you have no control over. PS – You think I’d post on Facebook my bad days? Don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides. No one is as well-adjusted as you think. No one. Except me.

      1. You’re not allowed to feel awkward, that is for me only! And yes, you’re correct, people aren’t posting all their miserable crap on Facebook or wherever for the rest of the world to see, which is why I guess, it’s becoming difficult to relate to almost anything or anyone right now, except other equally miserable people. There is this strange pressure put on cancer patients to always be brave and keep smiling, even though that pressure isn’t put on your average person when they’re going through pretty much anything else. It is weird. And confusing. So it’s hard to know how to act sometimes. I don’t want to be the angry bitchy cancer girl when everyone else gives praise for the opposite type. Even though I know most of it is a facade. Or they are insane and enjoy suffering. Which I suppose could be true for some. But I don’t find the whole thing such a picnic, most of the time. I just wish I could, because it would make things a lot easier. But hey, I just ate some matzo ball soup and I’m sitting on a couch and not thinking any particularly evil thoughts, so I guess I’m doing okay. I’m an inspiration!
        πŸ™‚
        p.s. at what point am I able to guilt-trip you into coming to visit us… I mean, hello. I have cancer.

  7. I feel like I am going to repeat what has been said already, but I also feel like you should a) never regret posting the reality of how you’re feeling and b) never sugar coat/apologize for not sugar coating what you’re going through. Cancer is a mean ugly beast and you are tackling it with eloquence and grace, even if it’s hard to see it that way right now. Your posts are helping a lot of people understand what going through cancer treatment can feel like, and for people going through similar treatments, you’re providing a sense of kinship and connection. I do hope to see it in a book someday Steph, called something like “How I kicked cancer’s a** and you can too” πŸ™‚

  8. I apologize if this is something you have already tried (I just found your blog), but, when I was on chemo, food tasted a little better if I ate with plastic utensils. I think the metals in my chemo drugs made stainless steel so awful that some things tasted significantly different if I ate off of plastic stuff. Also, don’t apologize for the anger. We’ve all been there and anger is better than crying in desolation. It sounds like you’re getting lots of love from family and friends but there’s a big cancer-crushing community out here and we’re rooting for you, too. Happy Passover.

    1. Thanks! I did try the plastic thing awhile ago but I don’t think it made much difference. It’s not so much a metal taste I get, as just a lack of taste… when I know something should taste a lot better because I remember what it used to be like. Oh the little things! Take care πŸ™‚

  9. I’m right there with you feeling shitty and wishing this whole cancer thing was over. When you write about your bad days it really does make me feel less alone, and I want to thank you for that. Cancer sucks but you are awesome. Hope you feel better soon.

    Yael

  10. Stephanie,
    Don’t ever look back and regret any of your posts. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine and a poster girl for positivity. This Passover, you are surely in the desert, but you will be brought out from Egypt. To borrow some words from the Haggadah, “…it would still be our duty to tell the story of the departure from Egypt. And the more one tells of the departure from Egypt, the more is one to be praised.” Keep telling your story come what may – the light and the dark of it. Thinking of you.

  11. What an inspirational writer you are!! even if the your subject is not what you wish you could be writing about now. Keep pouring out your heart through your writings and soon you will be writing about brighter days.

    Keep the faith and Happy Passover.
    From Other Stephanie in Los Angeles

  12. Oh Steph, you have EVERY right to be a grinch, you have been through so much! Everyone following your blog has followed you through the good days and not so good days and we all want to know how you really are feeling! What is so great about you is that you allow yourself to be honest. You don t feel good now and your not sugar coating how you feel …I wish I could give you a big hug and make you feel better! Just please know that you have touched EVERY person who reads this and we are ALL rooting for you! Feel better and know you are loved! Helene xoxo

  13. We love your posts, Steph, you keep them coming! One day at a time! Wishing you a wonderful Passover celebration!

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