I’m fine, most of the time. I’d say 90% of the time I don’t think about what’s going on, or can keep my brave face on. But I have moments where everything builds up and I fall apart.
It’s about to get really heavy. I’m not in this place now, but want people to know it happens. I don’t want to portray this person who can fight off my troubles every minute of the day. It’s not healthy and it’s not healthy for people to think that should be expected.
There seem to be thoughts that always lurk and I return to when my mind goes south. I call them my ‘bad places.’
1. Songs that could be played at my funeral. These are the worst because I’m always blind sided. Listening to music getting ready, driving to errands, I catch my self entering this bad pace and quickly skip forward to something else. Anything else.
2. Wondering if THIS is the reason. I’ve given up on trying to figure out the answer to ‘why is this happening?’ I hear so often that, ‘this will all make sense eventually’. What if I don’t beat this and so many hard times in my past happened because I wouldn’t make it? I mostly apply this to break ups. I’ll conclude that I’ve never settled down because that would make my hubby a widower by 35 and my kids motherless.
3. Deciding when is the appropriate time to get my accounts in order and put my house up for sale. I’d rather do it now than leave a mess for my family to deal with when so many other emotions would be running high.
Like I said, I’m in control 90% of the time and can manage my thoughts. Some of my resources from Mayo have helped me practice ‘anxiety control’. Practicing meditation has helped.
But it’s healthy to be sad and łive in that emotion for a while. I let it happen when I can feel emotions building, sometimes that means pulling my car into empty parking lots and just slathering on as much sadness and pity as I can for about ten minutes. Then get on with my life.
Often I’ve found it follows times of extreme happiness. I’ve always said there’s a thin line between love and hate, and I guess there’s one between sadness and joy. I would rather live in a place where I feel too much than be numb to my feelings; I did that last year.
The song, ‘Wake Me Up’ that’s popular gets me worked up for this reason. I like the beat, but it’s like it’s advocating not experiencing life and the beauty of making mistakes and learning from them. It’s hard, but that’s what makes you wiser. And cant just fast forward and expect the be a different person. Embrace and live in life’s moments. – the bad and the good.
Since I’m making this a downer of a post, I’ll throw this in here too; let’s talk about my scary numbers.
The worst thing about cancer is that you don’t know if treatments are working. Surgery yields physical results. Chemo yields statistics on other people. Come December when I finish my last round, it’s not the end. I still have five years of regular follow-ups and scans to make sure the cells haven’t come back. The only way to tell if they are they are there is if they start growing in another organ, called recurrence, and for me, stage 4. If I haven’t recurred, I’m considered cured after five years.
So, the current percentage of people with my same stage 3c colon cancer who live five years after diagnosis is 30%. Just 30%. Only 30 people out of 100 live five years after they are diagnosed. If I go into remission and am staged at 4, it becomes 8%. Only 8 out of 100 live another five years.
Also always included by this number, is that other causes of death weren’t factored in. With a cancer that generally hits people older than 50 I try to convince myself there are a lot of those.
But I’m young, so I have better odds, right? Wrong. Young adult cancer is the only age group where survival rates aren’t improving. Some theories are that our cancers are genetically different so treatments aren’t as effective. Others are that our stubborn ‘that won’t happen to me at this age’ attitude causes delayed diagnoses and late staging and alters our stats.
So, to my friends that have asked and considered getting checked out for one reason or another, do it. Now. Chance are its minor (6% of all cancer diagnoses are in young adults) and you can go on your merry way. But if it is something minor, know what might be coming. Learn your family medical history and what increases your risk. In my case, it was mostly red meats and alcohol.
After I get through this, I’m doing more research on my other risks. Just because I’ve had cancer once, doesn’t mean I won’t get a different type. It’s not a one and done deal.
I read an article last week with a finding that women who drink frequently (not heavily) before having kids are at a 13% higher risk of developing breast cancer. Also that all these birth control pills we’ve been taking maybe huge risk factors as I think breast cancer is largely caused by hormones. I don’t know, I haven’t fully gotten around to doing my homework yet.
I’m just worrying about one cancer at a time for now.