The waiting game

There hasn’t been too much to report lately. I feel as though I am in a strange state of limbo. But not the fun kind of limbo, like these people are experiencing:

The fun limbo. Although not really that fun if you're terribly uncoordinated like I am.
The fun limbo. Although not really that fun if you’re terribly uncoordinated like I am.

Rather, I am in a sort of cancer limbo. Somewhere in between being sick and being healthy. In between the chaos and instability of the past year, and what I hope to be the more calm and predictable pace of the next phase. I feel as though I am just waiting. Waiting to be approved to return to work. Waiting to have my 3-month check-up with my oncologist. Waiting for my hair to grow back. Waiting for all the plans I have to become a reality. Waiting for my life to resume.

And of course, waiting to see if the treatment worked, and to know that I didn’t go through hell for nothing. Unfortunately, I’ll be stuck in limbo waiting for that particular answer for quite awhile. So I guess I need to adapt and adjust accordingly. Which, luckily, I’ve gotten pretty good at.

I am also waiting to see if these terrible hot flashes will subside. I got about a two week break between chemo-induced hot flashes and hormone-induced hot flashes. Turns out, they are pretty similar. I even take a mild anti-depressant to try to combat them, but it seems to be failing me. Just another pill to pop.

I’m sure there are many menopausal ladies out there that can relate to the horrific discomfort that is the HOT FLASH. I wake up multiple times throughout the night, feeling like my face is on fire, with my body covered in sweat. Then I lie awake, remember oh, right, I had cancer. This sucks. And I wait for it to pass until I can finally go back under the blanket, and wait for the next one to hit.

This isn’t an uncommon thing for a woman to experience. I get that. But I am not supposed to be experiencing this for another 25 years. I try to flip my thinking and remind myself, I’m doing this to prevent a recurrence of cancer. I’m doing this to increase the odds I won’t die. And when I think of it that way, it doesn’t seem so bad. A small price to pay, really. But when I feel as though I’m on fire, I’m not thinking about the benefits of cancer treatment. I’m thinking about how shitty it is to have cancer in the first place. How frustrated I feel that I will be dealing with side effects for a long, long time.

Last week, I went to a Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert in a big stadium. I don’t typically go to shows like this. I prefer more intimate performances, and less of a spectacle. But I thought it would be a fun time, and it really was. It was good for me and my husband to be out, on a weeknight, doing the kind of thing your average young couple in the city might do.

There was a moment when I looked around at the other people in the crowd who surrounded me. My peers. People my age. Girls with their long hair, and their breasts sitting right where they should be. And I thought to myself, I have been through so much more than any of you. You all have no idea.

When the concert began, I felt my emotions take hold and my eyes even got a bit misty. It still feels surreal, to be out, in public, enjoying myself. I have experienced so much misery in such a condensed period of time, that the happy moments catch me off guard. Those moments where I feel like my life has returned, like it was all a bad dream.

And then, I was hit with a hot flash. My face felt as though it would melt right off onto the dirty floor, and flow through the aisles, mixed with all the spilled beers that had been kicked by overzealous concertgoers. I thought I might pass out and topple over my chair, while everyone around me continued to dance and sing along, oblivious to my scorching body temperature. I remembered the cancer. And that I’m not like those other people. And that I’m not back to my normal life. Not just yet.

And so, I wait.

My friend drew this for me when I was doing chemo. It is super hostile and I love it.
My friend drew this for me when I was doing chemo. It is super hostile and I love it.

15 thoughts on “The waiting game

  1. Love this post! Love, Love, Love the sign!! So well said,
    Fucking cancer! I never capitalize the word, cancer. It doesn’t
    deserve it!
    Kathy U.

  2. wow, now I know why I love you, you tell it like it is. Hot flashes suck. I think I am still having them Ha Ha. You hang in there.

  3. Good morning! I could not have said this any better. Well said. Well written. I have felt all of these same emotions. Thank you for putting pen to paper or in this case thoughts to computer. You are helping so many of us out here. Thank you! Michele

  4. The crazy thing about life is that you don’t really know what is going on the lives of those around you… even those dancing like maniacs at a concert! A wise old friend of mine once said that if you get all your friends together in a circle and everyone puts their baggage in the center… then if you are permitted to take anyone’s baggage – most likely you will look around and take back your own. As shitty as life may seem from your perspective you probably don’t want to carry around anyone else’s junk and old baggage! You are right, cancer is shitty and you have suffered more than most and that is way too unfair! But I bet there were plenty of women around you at the concert saying “boy… look at that lucky beautiful girl, married and happy! Wish I looked so good in a crew cut? ”
    Having been in limbo once myself I can tell you that you can get under that limbo pole even if you have to bend down, crawl under it or jump over it – and you will! XXOO

    1. This is true, you never know what anyone is going through. I thought about that all the time when I was on transit and realized I looked just like every other healthy person, but I really needed to sit down and rest after surgery or treatment… more than the elderly people! But to the outsider, I would just look like some lazy young person!

  5. I can really empathise with this post, but i’m a few months down the road, it will get better, but Cancer limboland is no fun. I was diagnosed aged 29, and have recently had my first anniversary. Back at work full time now, with a pixie head of hair, and wondering, did that really happen? Now where was I? It seems such a long time ago I was normal, i’m not sure what normal is, but I think I’ve turned a corner slightly, i’m seeing the future for the first time in over a year, and it looks ok. All the best to you, keep that head high and smile wide x

    1. Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to see you’re doing well… Looks like we’ve been on the same course of drugs so I’m sure you can relate to a lot. Would love to chat more, keep in touch!

  6. yes dear, I can’t compare to your ordeal or that f’n nasty Cancer…..BUT…..I can honestly say that there is nothing anyone can say about a ‘hot flash’ to describe it, until is is happening to them.

  7. Just try and continue to enjoy everyday. Wish I was at that concert with you. I love your blog. You are inspiring even in your distress.

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