One Second from Disaster

Why is it that some people seem to live a charmed life.  Nothing bad ever happens to them—they sail through life with nothing major going wrong. That is my one question—why?

I get up in the morning with a vague feeling of anxiety that almost never leaves me. I am not one to feel sorry for myself and hate being on the pity pot. Yet I feel jealous of women with their big cleavages and think about what if they got this damn disease. How about all those women with their big manes of hair, so confident that nothing can touch them. Well, this fucking disease doesn’t care about that and this life is a mine field. You can be going along, all smug, posting your “best life” on Facebook, when suddenly your life as you know it comes to a screeching halt. That is how it is—we are all one second away from disaster.

When my friend Janet got the news that she had MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) the disease which ultimately killed her, she called it the “train wreck.” That describes it exactly –a feeling of disbelief and confusion. Any faith that you thought you had is shaken. “How could this be?” you ask yourself, knowing that you are not invincible and the grim reaper has come to your doorstep.

Having had the big C 34 years ago, for some strange reason I felt that was it. I was sure that I would never get cancer ever again—that my turn had come and I came through it.  But that’s not the way things work in the world. So, I put my big girl brave face out there and made it my mission to fight this. I was determined to remain positive and I actually did. On the days I had an infusion for 3 hours I actually was in good spirits. I tried to analyze why that was so and I can only surmise that I felt cared for and loved. My friend would come over, bring me lunch, and we would chat. I guess you would say I did not suffer from many chemo side effects so I was lucky (or blessed depending upon where you come from).

I counted down the chemo cycles (I had 6) and posted pictures of me getting the infusion. People responded and I felt loved again. But a strange thing happened after the last cycle—I felt let down and depressed. One would think I would feel wonderful and relieved but I was just the opposite. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I simply felt abandoned. I was no longer special and my purpose in life, which turned out to be just getting through the chemo, was gone. I felt that I lost my purpose. I have been struggling to get that back and I am having a hard time. People don’t understand how I feel—they think I should be happy, happy, and grateful. I am grateful it is over but I am left with the residual fear of having this return. I think crazy thoughts and get into my own head that I somehow have metastatic cancer and I will surely die of this. I have a mammogram next month and my head tells me that I have cancer in the other breast now.  I speak to other cancer survivors and many of them feel like me, so maybe I’m not unique, but I still can’t shake these feelings.

Logically, I know that we must “live in the day” and not the past or future because you miss the beauty of the moment. Yet I catch myself thinking about 10 years down the road sometimes and it is frightening. I engage in the “what ifs” which only increases my anxiety because the future is fraught with those nasty mine fields.

I know this is not exactly a very inspirational piece but this is how I feel. I have kept this inside of myself and whenever someone asks me how I feel, I simply say, “Fine” or “OK” when I really want to say, “I am fucking depressed and anxious”. But nobody wants to hear that—all they want to hear is that you are good so they can feel good too.

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