It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

15 Apr

So I had quite the party last night. There was music, there was wine and there was me, curled up on the couch with a heating pad, an old timey quilt and an ever-diminishing box of chocolate cookies. Yes, as you’ve probably guessed, I was the guest of honor at a good old-fashioned pity party last night, brought to you (or me, rather) by Living with Cancer and My Bad Attitude Productions.  

I’m still not sure what exactly happened or why it decided to happen on what must have been the most gorgeously vibrant spring day in Seattle history. I woke feeling a little under the weather, with fever, chills and a bit of a sore throat and for some reason couldn’t convince myself that going out for a run would be the thing to lift my spirits and clear my head. Instead, I pointedly ignored my running shoes (and the running laptop) and started watching Sex and the City (the movie), which didn’t exactly help my mood. (How could Big do that to Carrie? Why is Carrie reacting like such a dork? And what the hell is with that bird on her head?)

Before I knew it, morning had blended into early afternoon, which then coasted slowly towards late afternoon. And I still hadn’t left the house. I’m not even sure I ate anything, although I did take my medication: the anti-anxiety pill, the tamoxifen, the two tabs of Vitamin D and one tab of Vitamin B12, all chased down by a fish oil tab the size of my little finger. I take all of this crap every day (and more on days when I have bad chest pain or a migraine or can’t sleep), although the only pill that really counts is the tamoxifen, which acts like a hawk-eyed chaperone at a seventh grade dance, perpetually shouldering its way between those two old lovebirds — estrogen and cancer — so they can’t hook up and produce a slew of baby tumors.

And that, I believe, is what was … or is … at the heart of my funk (truth be told, I haven’t quite kicked it yet).

Not that I have any reason to be in a funk. Last Wednesday, I had a stellar one-year follow-up with my breast cancer surgeon, who told me that my left side had healed so well she couldn’t even tell that I’d had radiation there. Plus I’m working as much as I was pre-diagnosis; I just got back from a trip to Arizona and Texas; and spring has finally sprung in Seattle, chasing the constant drizzle and gray away with glorious sunshine and days that stretch on forever (or at least until 8 p.m.).

And yet yesterday (and even Wednesday while talking to my doc), all I could think about was the dreaded R-word: recurrence.

Obviously, with no more “mamm” to gram, that particular method of breast cancer screening is off the table. And in the year since my surgery, I haven’t received an ultrasound or MRI to see if any new tumors have sprouted in my chest. I also haven’t received  any assurances or guarantees that I’m completely out the woods and that I’ll never again have to climb onto the bad carnival ride that is cancer treatment. Instead, I’ve been living in Limbo Land, where ever ache and pain is ripe for a new kind of dark, desperate scrutiny.

My BC surgeon said that a physical examination — which she performed while we chatted about reconstruction, swing dancing and whether or not I could take up boxing — was the best way to determine if I was developing anything hinky in my chest. But what about all the other areas of my body? My liver, my lungs, my bones, my brain — all those places where breast cancer likes to pop up and wreak havoc like a bitter, inebriated ex-boyfriend at your first major book launch.

That’s where things get a little muzzy. According to my oncologist — who’s gone over my recurrence rates with me on more than one occasion — I need to tell her if I start “feeling bad” or suddenly develop a weird persistent pain. Or, I imagine, I end up with a broken rib after getting a hug or a have a seizure while grocery shopping.

Do fever and chills and a sore throat fit within the “feeling bad” category, I wondered yesterday, watching bright sunshine blur into gray dusk. (Or was the fever not a symptom of a cold at all, but one of those infamous hot flashes I was told I’d get as tamoxifen hip-checks me into menopause?) And while we’re on the topic of hinky things developing, what about that sore spot under what used to be my left breast. Was that a tumor starting to sprout or had I knocked myself with the vacuum cleaner handle yet again?

Oh the places you go when you’ve had cancer.

And the things you say. Friday night over drinks with a girlfriend, I casually mentioned that I knew I wasn’t going to live all that long.

“Once you have cancer, you tend to get it again,” I told her, sipping my martini and grazing on a goat cheese, mint and bacon-sprinkled bruschetta. (Might as well live it up, since I’m going to die in ten minutes, ten days, ten years or whatever, right?)

“I’m feeling really blue,” I texted another buddy last night while cancelling plans. “I don’t want to die young and I know I’m going to now.”

Who does that? Who dumps that kind of crap into the laps of their friends? Certainly not me, unless I’m in the throes of a deep emotional funk. Which may or may not be something I should report to my oncologist (Hmmm … I’m normally so upbeat. Perhaps my foul mood is symptomatic of a brain tumor?).

It’s probably just the cold (or allergies) taking me to this dark place. Or the spate of friends and former neighbors who’ve recently lost (or are in the process of losing) a parent, grandparent, spouse or beloved pet. Maybe it’s the one-year anniversary of my double mastectomy, which looms on the horizon like a tax deadline. Or hey, maybe it’s the frigging tax deadline itself.

Whatever the case, I’m blue because I hate not knowing what the hell is going on with my body and knowing that I’ll never really know as long as I live, which I hope will be a long, long time, but chances are it won’t because of this crappy disease.  I’m blue because I’m a bit of a control freak and cancer is not something you can control. Or predict. Or prevent, no matter how much sauteed kale you consume (and trust me, I’m consuming a lot these days). I’m blue because recurrence happens; it’s happened to friends and family members and to some of my cancer buddies on Twitter and while some of these people have been able to stay on top of the disease, it’s not always possible to kick cancer to the curb once it starts “traveling from organ to organ like a gypsy caravan,” in the words of the late, great Dave Hodgson.

I’m blue because it’s gorgeous out and I should be out there celebrating the sun and the spring weather and the life I have while I have it, but instead I’m moping around the apartment “giving in to myself,” as my mother used to say. I’m blue because I’m usually the one trying to cheer other people up when they confess these kinds of dark thoughts and for some reason, I’m not quite able to do that for myself.

I’m blue because I’m angry and scared and don’t feel well and because I have to pay a bunch of money in taxes and I gained like four pounds while visiting my sister in Texas. I’m blue because I don’t have a Mr. Big or a body (or budget) like Sarah Jessica Parker and because despite having cancer, I’m just as shallow and self-absorbed as I ever was.

Oddly enough, though, now that I’ve gotten all this crap off my chest, I actually feel a little better. Thanks for the ear, folks and for stopping by my little pity party, which as of this moment, is officially closing down. Time to go run in the sun. Time to stop whining and live.

57 Responses to “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”

  1. Nancy Yonker April 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Diane, I think I love you. I’ve been struggling with these feelings since I finished treatment in December. Thanks for putting it into words better than I ever could.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      Loving you right back, Nancy. I try not to linger at the pity party any longer than I have to, but now and again, you just have to give in and let the bad stuff out. Congrats on finishing treatment and all the best to you, my friend.

      • Don June 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        I just stumbled across your site. I am a male BC survivor and July 20th will be my my 1 year chemoversary. I thought I was the only one who continues to feel down because of it all.

      • singleshot1 June 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

        Thanks for writing, Don. I’m really happy you stumbled onto the blog. I know that women BC survivors far outnumber the guys, but I can’t imagine it’s easy for anybody to go through this crap. I’m actually having a bit of a down day again today. Chest is killing me (chest wall neuropathy, I think) plus it’s all gloom and doom and rain outside (that always makes me blue – especially when it happens on the SECOND day of summer). BUT … I have boxing class tomorrow and I think being able to punch some of this stuff out will be helpful. ; ) Exercise seems to really help bring me out of the dumps. Anti=anxiety meds are a big help as well. Huge congrats on your forthcoming chemoversary. Yesterday was my one year “hairoversary,” i.e., it was one year since I shaved my head (after my first chemo infusion) and had it made into a wig. Amazing how the time is going by. Take care and please keep in touch.

  2. rosiebogie April 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Hey…let me be the first to kick you in your cancer ass. Ready for it? Swift kick!!!

    The funk that you’re in will go away. I’m sure of it. And soon you will look back on this post and say, “Pfft!! Who the hell slipped me a Debbie Downer Pill?”

    Here is the thing. You can’t control cancer. You also can’t control the teenager that is texting while driving. I think that you have a greater chance of getting hit by a car than getting hit by cancer again. (Don’t quote me on that…I’m not a statistician or a medical professional…just a girl that smiles too much). What you CAN control is taking care of cancer business. You’ve jumped through all of the hoops. You’ve done all that you can do. Now, it’s your job to live your life and make a difference.

    And let me tell you what. You ARE making a difference. Your writing is carrying many along through their journey. Keep making a difference with your gift.

    Stepping off of my soapbox now…

    Thank you for sharing your gift. I love your words.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Thanks for the swift kick in the cancer ass and you’re absolutely right about the funk going away (I tend to power through those dark patches pretty quickly). You’re also spot on with regard to all the other things that can go wrong in life. Was just thinking the other day that it’s probably not going to be breast cancer but a bus that takes me out. (Note to self: turn down the iPod while running along the city streets.) Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment. Really appreciate the kind words (and again, the swift kick). XOXOXO.

  3. Laura Temkin April 15, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    That was so spot on. You could have been writing about me. I know well those pity parties and dark thoughts, and how swiftly the day can slip by. Im working hard (as are u) to find the motivation and strength to get up and find something joyful each day. Sometimes I don’t succeed. I’ll take my ativan and try again tomorrow.

    • Beegee April 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      My favorite quote, from Mary Anne Rademacher: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” Beegee 18-year inflammatory bc survivor. NED to date.

      • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:33 am #

        Thanks for the note and huge congrats on the 18 years of strength and survival. I’m in awe, Beegee.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      Laura, I totally hear you. In fact, I’ve started leaving my smartphone in the living room at night so I have a reason to get up in the morning. ; ) Is that pathetic? Maybe, but whatever works, right? Take care and keep in touch, my friend.

  4. Sue April 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    How did you know? I was just having this conversation with a friend. Fortunately for me, I’m in a clinical trial and so I get followed more closely by my chemo onc. Unfortunately, I’m in the clinical trial because my odds of avoiding recurrence are about as high as Newt Gingrich’s chance of winning the Republican nomination. Toronto will win the Stanley Cup before I avoid my date with the hoodie-wearing scythe-carrier.
    I went very quickly from being Cancer Girl to my new persona: Neurotic Chick. I skipped Go.
    I did not collect 200. I see illness with my Spidey Senses. And illness is as ubiquitous as oxygen. Yah. Suck on that gas, my friends.
    I made a mistake talking? Must be brain cancer. My leg hurts? Must be deep vein thrombosis My boob hurts? Must be breast cancer. Pain in my pelvis? Well, it is more likely I’ll get ovarian cancer. After all, I should be thankful I’ve made it this far. It wasn’t my year of living dyingly, as Christopher Hitchens described his final year.
    I guess when I look at the alternative, knowing I’m sick again, not being sure I’m truly healthy is okay. Yah. I’ll take it. While I eat that fantastic lemon thyme cake my fabulous friend has offered me. After all, you never know. Might not wake up tomorrow.
    Medical status remains: NDY – Not dead yet.
    Thanks for describing this Limbo Land – I call it Zombie Land, and my port is my vampire hole – so well.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Thanks for the note, Sue, and for offering me a glimpse into your world. Limbo Land, Zombie Land – they’re all pretty fucked. But they beat the hell out of the alternative: Forest Lawn Land. Love your strength and feistiness. Let’s hear it for NDY!

  5. pinkunderbelly April 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    You nailed it. All of it. Well done.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Thanks Pink! I think we’re alloted at least one pity party a year, right?

  6. The Savvy Sister April 16, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    Own it! Yessss!
    We all need moments like this. Just as long as you can step out of the elevator when it gets to the baseent and take the stairs back up. And if you can’t walk it…we’ll carry you.

    • suze April 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      Love it.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Love the metaphor about the elevator and stairs. Also love knowing I have a slew of BC buds out there who WILL carry me when I need it. So grateful I’m not going through this crap alone!

  7. Nancy's Point April 16, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I hear you. Boy do I hear you! And for the record, in my opinion, being honest about how you’re feeling isn’t a pity party at all. It’s called truth telling and I’m all for it.

    Terrific post!

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      Thanks so much, Nancy. I really loved your recent post about the isolation of living with metastatic breast cancer. So powerful!

  8. ibeatcancrtwice April 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I love this blog. It is unvarnished truth, and I know it helps more people than any ‘think positive’ puffs. Bitch away, girlfriend, and we will understand, be there for you, and maybe even join you. Do you have a spare pillow for me?

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      I’m normally pretty upbeat or at least I play it on TV (fake it til you make it, right?), but now and then the elevator does drop to the basement (as The Savvy Sister says above) and there’s nothing you can do but have a little bitchfest. Thanks for listening and for writing. Your Twitter handle alone is a huge inspiration.

  9. tari1287 April 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks, Diane, for talking about things I’m thinking about! I’ve had the same issue lately – I’m a year (plus) out and I’ve been crying more lately than I did all last year. It’s sort of annoying. But it’s nice to know I’m not alone. And you’re right, blogging DOES help! I never thought I’d be the type of person to blog, but hello, sometimes it helps to get stuff out of your head… Enjoy the spring!

    • tari1287 April 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      whoops, sorry for the double post. WordPress was killing me…

  10. tari1287 April 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Thanks, Diane, for talking through stuff you’re going through! I have felt the same way lately – I’ve cried more lately (I’m a year out from my double mastectomy) than I did all of last year! It’s nice to know I’m not alone. And you’re right – it DOES help to blog about it! I never thought I’d be the type of person to blog, but sometimes it’s a relief to get stuff out of my head and out into cyberspace. That way, it’s out of my head and I don’t have to bother my gal pals with it! Here’s to enjoying the spring and getting out of our own way! 🙂

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to post a comment, Tari. I felt a little self-indulgent (not to mention whiney) putting up that post, but I think it’s what we ALL go through so I figured what the hell. I’ve been amazed and incredibly touched by the response I’ve gotten to my pity party post. Really happy that blogging has helped you deal with your own battle, too. (I’d say journey, but I don’t want to throw up my breakfast – I SO hate that word!). ; )

  11. Jean April 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    What a great article. I have been where you are and now I have metastatic bc and it’s no fun, for sure. I had the same exact day today, wondering how long I will live, etc. I have my good days but I have a lot of bad days as well. You just keep putting one foot ahead of the other. It’s all you can do. I wish anyone who’s been touched by cancer in any way the very best of luck.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks for the read and the comment, Jean, and I’m so sorry to hear about the metastatic BC. I hate this frigging disease so much. Maybe instead of a pity party, I should start organizing a few cancer beatdowns. Huge hugs and best of luck to you, too.

  12. feistybluegecko April 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    What can I say – this is so true and you have articulated with humour and humanity what cancer does to the mind as well as the body. I have visitations fro Capt Paranoia and like you am just after my round of checks and all seemed well. So why the long face? Relief yes, but fleeting….

    You are so not alone in this, big hugs fro far away

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks so much for the great comment, Philippa, and it’s incredibly comforting to know I’m not the only one who “gets visitations from Captain Paranoia” after a round of checks. (Love that, by the way.) Here’s to fleeting relief and feisty friends. XOXOXXO.

  13. suze April 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Well said. You can see you’re not alone and have touched others. What else can we do but hang in there?

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Thanks Suze! I’m thinking of organizing some cancer beatdowns (in addition to the hanging in there stuff). Are you with me? ; )

  14. Arianne Avery April 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Wow. For a second there I thought, “When did I start a blog??” My latest checkup is tomorrow, and I’ve been struggling lately. A new pain has me freaking out. I thank you for sharing these thoughts. The timing couldn’t have been more spot on for me. I hope you are able to find some comfort in knowing you are not alone in this — that’s the comfort you just gave me.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Your comment totally made me squirt tea out my nose, which is a great antidote for the recurrence blues. ; ) Hope your checkup went well and that all of your pity parties are short and sweet (and completely unnecessary!). Huge hugs.

  15. ctcasocial April 17, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    What a powerful piece one that so many can relate to…

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks so much, CTCAsocial! Hope all’s well with you — and all of your patients.

  16. ChemoBabe (@chemo_babe) April 17, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    the funk is part of the emotional terrain. you won’t stay here forever, but embrace the funk. there is something to learn here too, about injustice, about the way we deny our mortality. then it will pass and you will run under the cherry blossoms. xo

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Would be running under the cherry blossoms today, but Seattle is apparently having its own spring funk. Pouring down rain here. But on a more positive note, I’m feeling worlds better since venting about all my cancer crap. Thanks for reading and offering up your ever-insightful BC wisdom, Chemo_Babe. XOXOXOX

  17. Cait April 17, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I’m close to my first anniversary of my double mastectomy too. I’ve probably felt worse in the last few weeks than in the whole time since I was diagnosed.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      I actually made it through my “surgerversary” okay, despite the funk that led up to it. I think writing about all that stuff helped. When my day came (this last Wed), it actually felt gratifying to look back and see how far I’d come in a year. Granted, I don’t have boobs right now, but I also don’t have chemo and radiation and the fear of all that ahead of me, either. And — best of all — I also don’t have cancer (or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Best of luck and congrats on making the hard decision to lose your girls in order to keep your life.

  18. Kisha April 17, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I walked thru this last year with the attitude that “it doesnt do any good to curl up in a corner and cry” but forgot to admit that sometimes you just NEED too. Im in the same limbo, none of my docs have yet to tell me that I’m “free” and every tiny twinge from my body sends me into a panic. And damnit, I REALLY hate the way my hair is coming in…I look like Annie on crack….. Thanks for taking the word right out of my mouth….

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      I’m right there with you, Kisha. Not only do I hate the Limbo Land crap, I’m not at all thrilled with my new Don King look, either. Have to say your “Annie on crack” comment almost made me pee my pants laughing. So true! I’m using a white goopy product called Short Sexy Hair (by Bedhead) to try to control the chemo curls (my hair was straight as a board before). Am also wearing vintage scarves (headband style) to keep people from noticing that my hair is not getting longer, but taller. Have to say I’m thrilled to have hair, though, even unruly Bozo-esque hair. ; ) We’re all taking baby steps back to normalcy, I think. Thanks so much for reading and writing and relating.

  19. The Accidental Amazon April 17, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Oh, that miserable phrase “recurrence risk.” I remember acutely the first discussion I had about this with my rad onc before radiation. I was so stunned to hear these percentages (a one in 3 risk without radiation, a one in 6 risk with), I wanted to ask whether my treatment plan would come with a lifetime supply of valium and ambien so I could get through my day without shrieking and maybe even sleep at night occasionally.

    CB is right. Embrace duh funk. We all deny our mortality — until we have cancer. It does get easier over time to live with this ‘inside knowledge,’ I swear. But every now and then, a good old-fashioned melt-down is very cathartic.

    And then you get to run some more.

    Big hugs.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Thanks for the read and reply and for getting it, Amazon. I remember sitting down with my oncologist and going over the different types of chemo, each with its own recurrence algorithm. So weird to literally “choose your poison.” I’ve got my fingers crossed I chose the right one and that the tiny lymph node involvement they found on my left side isn’t going to come back and bite me in the ass (or the liver or brain or bones), but of course, you know how it goes. Hmmm … I feel a run coming on. ; )

  20. Brandie April 17, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I’m there with you. It’s hitting those anniversaries. It’s so hard. Just hard. And depressing. It’s like the anxiety builds becuase you know you are hitting that anniversary – and I look back on the last year nad I just feel like it was stolen from me. I’m still not back to where I was. I still feel like crap too much. I still miss my boobs. I still hate taking pills. I still hate my port (can we take that out asap I asked the oncologist, like the last day you need it, can you just wheel me in to take it out. Please). So much so. And yet, I am gratefu I’m here. And I’m trying to remember we went to hell and back so I could live. And yet, I’m too damn afraid to live because it can all be gone. In a blink.
    Yep. I’m there too. We can party together. I’ll share my peanut butter eggs if you share your cookies.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      Boy, do I hear you about that frigging port. Hated that alien eyeball so much and had to keep mine in all through rads (and beyond). It’s gone now, thankfully, and the scar from it is even healing. Life goes on. Or what passes for life when you’re in the cancer boat. Take care of yourself and keep me posted on how you’re doing. We’re in this together, my dear.

  21. Rita Griggs April 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I read this on previous replies, but O-M-G, you said exactly what I feel at times!!!! Why the hell can’t we know????????? And my one year anniversary of my masectomy is coming up on the 22 of April!!!! Cancer just sucks! Most days I do a pretty good job of staying positive though, but thank you for all those words. Rita

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      Yes, cancer totally sucks. And there’s really no way to put a positive spin on it, except for the truly wonderful, inspiring people you meet who are going through the same shitty disease. Don’t know what I would do without the other BC and cancer peeps I’ve met through Twitter and this blog. Hope you’re able to get through your “surgeversary” okay on Sunday. I’ll be thinking of you, darling.

      • Rita Griggs April 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        haha, surgerversary!! that is a funny term I plan to use!!!! and thanks for thinking of me!!

  22. rebekahdenn April 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Diane, I’m not even quite done with treatment, but oh, how I relate. I’m already wondering if the painful spot in the lymph nodes under my arms signals an entirely new cancer. I still occasionally survey my dearest friends wondering if any of them would marry my husband and raise my children when I die young. Even though, really, like you, I should be just fine.

    I think it’s hard for us to accept that we might NOT be the weird rare unlucky ones who fall on the wrong side of the odds, since we spent so much time in the badlands during diagnosis and staging. My MRI the other month was the first time in Cancerland that I got handed a piece of paper that said “everything looks fine, carry on,” rather than “AGGGGGGGGHHH! TERRIBLE NEWS!” How heartening to realize that was even possible.

    Brandie, I’m with you on the port. I am already plotting whether, if my CT scans are clear after chemo, they can just wheel me down and yank it out on the spot. I thought I’d adjust to it better than I did.

    Diane, one thing I tell myself is that all the exercising I hope to do after chemo (gotta. gotta. gotta.) will reduce my risk of heart attacks and strokes so dramatically, as well as my cancer recurrence risk, that I may just be able to even out my overall survival odds to normal.

    Thank you, D. And wouldja please write a book about all this? People need it.

    • singleshot1 April 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Thanks for the great note, Rebekah, and I hope the next time I hear from you, you’re out of treatment and rid of that damn port. Also hope you’ll be back exercising soon. I had to give up running halfway through chemo and couldn’t get back to it until about a month and a half after finishing up, but it was the best feeling in the world to get back on my feet again (even tentatively). And yes, I too am hoping it’ll reduce the risk of heart disease (which runs in my family) and keep the frigging BC at bay.

      As for the recurrence stuff, I wanted to share an email I got from a friend which I found incredibly helpful. So many people feel compelled to share the bad cancer stories. This is what I call good medicine:

      “I just read your latest blog post. You’ve been so strong and upbeat, but I knew days like those had to be happening, too, times when you feel like the creepy disease is lurking around, like some kind of monster in a Stephen King novel. I knew this because even with my own relatively minor medical problems this year, I’ve had my own bad days when it seemed I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, feeling like a pain might mean some other medical problem, feeling like my body might betray me at any minute for no reason. Which is really stupid, but there it is. So. You can have crappy days, and you will still be my hero, my role model for strength, just so you know. And–it really is very possible that you’re going to be fine. You know quite a few people who have seen it come back, but I have long lists of friends and family who have never seen recurrence, including a friend who had Stage II or III colon cancer 25 years ago (it never came back), and my brother-in-law’s lovely mother, who had breast cancer with some lymph involvement, surgery, chemo, radiation, the whole nine-yards, all this in her early forties, and the family just finished celebrating her 75th birthday.”

  23. Mandi April 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Everything you are going through is perfectly normal. The nice part is that it happens less often as time goes on, but the fear will always be there. That is the part of the new normal we now learn to live with.

  24. diplomom08 May 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Oh, my, I am so sorry! I’m with you on the vitamins, but bowing out on the Tamox for now (family history and all). You know, I had days, I suppose, when I worried this, but the thing is…I don’t know, somehow I just manage to forget about it most days now. I get annoyed when I have to go to the doctor (only 3 appts. left this year!). I think, somehow, I just finally dug myself out of the hole I’d put myself in and now I’m basically back to my old normal?

    And, yes, I do mean my old normal. There is no new normal for me, that just doesn’t work for me. I guess I have always figured that something could happen any time…if something happened again, at least I’d have forewarning? Or maybe it was growing up with a over-zealous, security freak and hypochondriac for a parent. I can’t even give the appearance of stressing over this as my dad would jump on it and freak out for me! Oh, and I do NOT mean that you are a hypochondriac (but my dad IS!).

    Please feel better and while I’m not saying to blow anything off, I’m betting you are good to go for a long, long, long time 🙂

  25. Liz May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    On the left I found a lump and the mammogram was normal until it reached 5.5cm in size (moral of that story is ask to see actual mammogram report as it said if there is a lump get biopsy and I was stupid and believed the student health services doctor that it was just normal lumpy breast – would have been found 4 years sooner if I had had one done). On the right a mammogram found it.

  26. Liz May 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Mammogram anxiety LOL (not) is such a joy and pleasure. Incidentally there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned pity party now and again. I think it took me 4 years not to think about cancer every single day, multiple times a day (never mind all the free tram flap scars which are a still daily reminder but in a different way). I’d work myself into a PTSD tizzy each year at mammogram time. Was finally calming down when got I hit with BC again (should have cut off both like you but I was told less than 5% of people get it on both sides, I gambled and lost). Not over it yet, although there is something to be said about getting new cancers to get your mind off the old ones.

    Seriously though, it does get better, but it takes time. Lots of time. Your brain has to squeeze though an awkward, tiny tunnel and squirm out the other side. That takes time. Even though you manage that you still may find you sometimes cry about, oh say, squashed bugs on the windshield or some other equally trivial trigger event. The whole thing is sort of like grief. Over time, the periods of intense agony become shorter and shorter and further and further apart. Can’t say they ever go away (yet that is) but even with a ton of scars it becomes, over time, much easier to deal with and stomp on that voice in my head that screams cancer cancer cancer red alert I am going to die. Aaaaggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Misha August 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    OMG, I have been needing you! Thank you, thank you for being real.

    • singleshot1 August 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Hey Misha:

      Thank YOU for the note. I try to be real — or rather, find it impossible to keep my mouth shut or my feelings to myself about stuff — so there you go. There’s just so much crap that goes along with breast cancer. And for me, talking about it, bitching about it, crying about it, cursing about it, writing about it and pounding the shit out of a boxing bag because of it all seem to help. Stop by anytime and please, keep in touch. Would love to know your story, too.


  28. Ellen October 14, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Whoa, read this amidst my own pity party (apparently nothing stops me from compulsive websurfing). Laughed outloud after reading “Living with Cancer and My Bad Attitude Productions”. Oh yeah. Do you hate pink, too? Think I’ll go outside now. Thanks!

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