Sometimes I forget I have cancer.
Or maybe I’m in the denial phase.
Except, no, it’s not a phase. And I don’t think anyone said, “Thou shalt go through these stages consecutively and not concurrently,” but sometimes it feels like the word “phase” implies that.
I want to be in the acceptance phase, except the thing is that nobody told me that “acceptance phase” also means “sometimes five minutes both before and after the denial phase.”
I’ve never grieved anything this big before. Both my parents are still alive, I wasn’t terribly close to my grandparents, and when my dad got cancer, I…
… got stuck in the denial phase.
Several years ago, my father-in-law got the news that he had prostate cancer. After about five or six years of fighting it, he succumbed. It was Good Friday in 2016, so I’ll never remember the date since it always moves, but I looked it up and it was March 25, 2016.
And 2017 was supposed to be better, right? I mean, it started off better. We were having two babies, and I was doing okay energy-wise. Then I had two babies, and things were getting on track. Someone told us that six months was the mark, the mark when things started getting easier, so I spent most of the pregnancy and the newborn stage saying, “I think I can; I think I can; I think I can,” make it to six months.
Nobody put cancer on the agenda.
Robert died in early 2016. Soon after that, I found out that my dad had rectal cancer. And the first thing I did was cry because “we’ve just been through this.” Robert fought for six years, and he lost. And so that is, honestly, all I knew of cancer.
Kevin was annoyed at me. “Your dad just got the diagnosis, and you’ve gone and buried him already.”
Well, OK, but we’d just been through this. And honestly, that was all I knew of cancer.
My paternal grandfather died at 42 of lung cancer on July 20, 1969. (That’s the day man walked on the moon, and I was born July 21, so that’s how I remember that one.) Except, of course, that was twelve years before I was born, so I knew nothing of him or his fight. Dad’s not talked about it a lot, although I really don’t want to hear about it unless he really needs to tell me for some reason. That’s not weird, right? Not wanting to hear about someone dying?
Sometimes I don’t even know which way is up. I check myself because I’m living in–
Why am I explaining?
My paternal grandmother died of–heart stuff? She was on all sorts of heart medication, and I believe she was into her eighties, so it was normal. People die of heart stuff suddenly in their 80s.
My maternal grandfather died when I was a baby, so I don’t remember him, either. My maternal grandmother’s husband when I was a kid was also old when he died, and I don’t remember much about it. My maternal grandmother died of things one dies of when they’re old.
So, like I’m attempting to say for a third time in one of the worst displays of eloquence to this point in the blog, I don’t know anything about cancer except Robert’s fight. What I knew was that you fight and you lose.
Dad did great. He had radiation, chemotherapy, and a surgery that resulted in a permanent ostomy, and now he’s got more energy to chase babies around the house than I do now that I’m on chemo. So what I do know is that it’s not all fighting and losing. He’s six months plus cancer-free.
But, thing is, I never finished the stages of grief with that one. When I think of Dad, I have to remind myself that he’s 71 and had cancer. He likes to say that when he looks at himself in the mirror, he doesn’t know who that old guy is, since he sees himself as 22. And maybe I don’t see him as 22 because I didn’t know him then, but I certainly do not see him at 71 and having fought cancer.
Cancer happens to other people.
So the problem, really, is that I haven’t dealt with any of it. I’m in some kind of denial about my dad’s cancer, so I sure as hell am also in denial about my own cancer. But I’m not trying to deny it. I’m not willfully going around ignoring cancer. It’s just that Venn diagram I mentioned? Where there’s a circle with cancer and a circle with me, my life, and my loved ones? They’re still not touching.
So sometimes I forget I have cancer. I remind myself. And I still don’t believe it.
Do I have to deal with it? Is it time? It’s been less than two months. I think I’m doing okay, right?
Where’s the goddamned agenda for this one?
Yesterday, the diarrhea hit. I was hoping perhaps to get out of that one. The hair loss I can handle. I’ll be a badass bald chick. But running to the bathroom every five minutes?
Once was just how it’s been going on a daily basis. The second time was, well, twice in one day has happened before, so maybe it’s a fluke. The third time was, “Dad, would you please go to Shopper’s Drug Mart and pick me up some Imodium?”
I should be glad, I suppose. There’s no Imodium for hair loss.
Today, Mom and I intend on going on a quick jaunt to Toys’R’Us, but we end up going to a few other places. I start and finish my Christmas shopping today. Wahoo. And it’s not a bad day to be getting it done–the 10th. Right?
Let’s not talk about Morrigan’s cross-stitched stocking, though, which I’ve gotten started on for next Christmas. It’s big enough it will definitely take me several months.
When we leave the house, I believe I have a gift certificate I need to use at Toy’R’Us, but I apparently used it on some crib toys I got the twins. I try and fail to remember if I used it or not, but I left it in a place that indicated to myself that I had not. I don’t know why I didn’t throw the damn thing away. We get there, the clerk checks the balance, it’s at $0, and I’m all, “Past self, c’mon.”
I’m so tired of having —– brain. First it was pregnancy brain. (Do not tell me it’s not real. I will fight you.) Then I had new mom of twins brain. And now I have chemo brain. All of those things are real. I am absolutely 100% not at peak capacity for remembering things. Whatever the reason is for all three of those things, whether it’s because I have other things on my mind or it’s a real chemical thing in my brain or medicines or hormones or a combination, it definitely exists. And it’s exhausting.
My brain used to be the one thing I could count on, but I’m been in a fog for over a year. I do not like it.
So we’re in WalMart, and the need to run to the bathroom hits me. So that’s fun. I mean, everything’s fine; I make it; nothing untoward happens. It was just good my mom’s pushing the cart because I would have abandoned it in the aisle and run through the store.
Facebook advertised some website to me the other night called “The Inappropriate Something-Or-Other Company” (not literally, I just can’t remember the name), and I went on there and amused myself for a bit. There was a pillow that said, “I’m too sober for this shit,” and I decided I wanted it on a t-shirt, but they didn’t have it in t-shirt format. If I had that t-shirt, I would totally wear it to chemo.
I told a friend about this, and she told Kevin, and I think one of them is going to get it for me, so if you’re reading this, don’t get it for me. Unless you’re Kevin or Karen.
Anyway, I also want an uncensored one that says, “Fuck cancer,” because… Well, see the next couple paragraphs.
I’m also extremely susceptible to click bait right now, so I read an article from a mommy blogger about how she doesn’t make wine jokes anymore. She went to some soiree, made a drinking joke, and then realized the hostess was a recovering alcoholic. So that, she reasons, is why she will never make wine jokes again.
Except that’s not true. She goes on to basically describe how she was an alcoholic for a brief period of time, but she pulled herself out of it without having to resort to AA. So, I mean, that’s a better reason.
And I thought to myself, “I still want that t-shirt.”
But should I get that t-shirt? I mean, I can totally get away with it. Who the hell is going to say something? Especially if I wear it to chemo? I mean, that’s funny. I think it’s funny. I’m waaaaaaaaaaaay too sober to deal with cancer! I can’t even have a usual one glass of wine with dinner! I want my damn wine! But I can’t!
Someone in the grocery store, offended: “You can’t wear that shirt. My mother died because she was an alcoholic.”
Me: “I have stage 4 breast cancer. I can wear this shirt if I want to because I’m having trouble dealing with it, and this is my outlet.”
Them: “I… You still can’t…”
Me: *flips the scarf covering my bald head and walks away*
See?? I CAN GET AWAY WITH IT NO MATTER WHAT.
But should I?
I’m going to. I’m just not sure if I should, quite honestly. Should I get away with things because I can?
Well, I think it’s funny. And I think the little devil and the little angel on my shoulder are having an argument right now, just like in the cartoons.