Normally my posts are more upbeat and positive but this one really isn’t. I apologize in advance but the fact is cancer and chemo do suck a lot and I can’t honestly say that I’m not sad or depressed from time to time.
I Remember California
(Yes, that is an R.E.M. reference)
The week after chemo I start to burn off everything; I pee a lot and I sweat constantly, mostly from the back of my head. I get depressed and I feel rather sick, like I’m rocking on a boat all the time. I get heart burn like nothing I’ve had before and I have had it all my life. And the heart burn results in sores in my throat and now what feels lower, like in my esophagus, so I can’t swallow anything besides mush, which of course is only going to make me nearly shit my pants more--- the fun thing I do nearly every hour.
There’s really nothing pleasant about being on these drugs. I sit around thinking that it seems so fucked up that I go into the doctor to feel rotten instead of to feel better. How can I be healed by chemicals? I feel like it’s not worth it sometimes. My surgery should have gotten it all out and maybe I should have taken my chances. How is this really quality of life? And I keep thinking that it seems all too likely that finding the cure for cancer in something natural like a coconut is more probable than discovering it in a laboratory filled with chemicals. I feel like a lab rat. I feel like a bunny being injected with dyes and perfumes. I feel like I go into the doctor to get sick rather than to get well. It’s like that monkey in the lab that they test football helmets on; they cement the helmet to his little head and sock him over and over with G-force pressure. Then they hammer the helmet off his head and see how he responds to things. Then they fucking kill him anyway. How is that doing anyone any good?
I remember as a kid in California that going to the beach was so much fun. I usually don’t miss California, but lately I do. I miss my friends, I miss the ocean, I even kind of miss driving a car. I know that next time I go back nothing will be the same; I know that after all this shit nothing in my life will ever be the same. All those times as a kid that I was sick and I felt like I was going to die are nothing compared to how I feel on a daily basis. And there are days when I just want to quit and give up because I’m not entirely sure that going through this is worth it. What if it comes back in a year, or two years or ten years? Will I have the strength to do this again? I don’t have kids or a spouse to hold onto; I’m alone in this. I’ve made peace with that but it still hurts sometimes. No matter how much my friends care and how much they help me I am alone in this: No one knows exactly how I feel. I can talk to social workers but they don’t get it. I can cry on my friend’s shoulder but it is never fully clear to them why I’m crying. I find that the most comfort I get is talking to other people who’ve had this cancer and have been through chemo and surgery. I only know a few but they have helped.
Some days I sit in the tub and soak my sore ass and I cry. It’s weird that my roommate seemed bothered by my crying and screaming in the beginning of this. I kept telling her “I have cancer. Why wouldn’t I cry and scream?” now I just try to do it when she’s no here because trying explain it seems futile. I think most of my friends think I’m OK and doing really well, and for the most part I am. I’m working hard at school and I got through the surgery so well, but it’s the chemo that gets me down. It’s depressing and it feels disgusting. Whatever I eat right after chemo I never want to eat again ever. I thought that I might as well have a steak next time since I would never eat that anyway, but that seems so nauseating I couldn’t stand it.
Before this happened wasn’t I the healthiest damn person? I mean, yes I drank a Pepsi every day, but I ate well, I’m vegan, and I was getting a lot more exercise since selling my car and moving out of Southern California. Now I sit on the toilet some days and it suddenly hits me: I have breast cancer. How the hell did I get breast cancer? As a kid I used to wish that I’d be stricken with a disease so my parents would care about me. Like in that movie A Christmas Story where the kid imagines being blind and his parents feel horribly guilty for being mean to him. I wanted my mother’s attention. Now I have cancer, right when I want to be alive the most and I have so much I care about. And of course my mother is not here to feel guilty or show that she cares. Ironically I know that if she were here she would really care. I dealt with all that childhood trauma bullshit and I got over it. I mean we all carry that stuff with us for a long time, but I let it go, especially when my mom got sick, but sometimes the anger gets the best of me and I get frustrated with my mom being dead or with everyone around me in general. I just want space and air. Maybe that’s what I’m missing about California; no neighbours breathing right down my neck, lots of trees and open fields, and, well, of course, really great avocados.
I haven’t cried that much with anyone since this happened. I’m not all that trusting so it’s hard for me to cry around other people. But lately I want to cry and cry and cry and I wish I had someone to hold me and just let me cry until I couldn’t anymore. I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself; it could be far worse and I remind myself of that everyday. But the week after chemo when I’m sweating and I feel like shit all I want is my mommie to hold me and take all the pain and ickiness away. I don’t deserve this and I feel like it’s about fucking time I got something wonderful in my life. I gave up the idea of having kids for a while to focus on my career and now I may never get to have any kids, but I can have my career. I feel lately like I have to put even that on the back burner this summer just to focus on getting healthy. That pisses me off. I can’t even feel like I worked all that hard on my show because right now I just want to get it the hell over with so I can finally fucking rest. And fuck auditioning or working in a theatre; I can hardly stand up straight or make it up the stairs these days.
Part of me thinks about how my mom was so religious and thought that this god was going to save her and had some predetermined plan for us all. I knew at age three that was total bullshit, but having been raised in I sometimes think that this god of hers is out to get me for not believing in him. I think that what if I was some horrible person in a past life or something and this is my repayment. I must have been Hitler or something! I had a shit-fuck childhood and I think I deserve a better adulthood but there’s no guarantee in life that anything will ever be better. I think we have to make that happen ourselves. And here I am trying to do that I get cancer. Go figure. But I’m fighting it. That’s more than my mom did. She just succumbed to the idea that god was waiting up in heaven and she’d be better off there. That’s bullshit. I mean, yes the only way I’d ever believe in god was if everyone on earth collectively agreed he is a gigantic fucking asshole, but why would anyone give up their life just because heaven might be lovely? Even religious people fight cancer. I get mad at my mom sometimes because I don’t think she understood the importance she had in people’s lives and I don’t think she understood how severe her condition was. She played it off like it wasn’t so bad and the doctors weren’t very worried, but I think her doctors were morons and she was too easily sold down the river. My mom would have been one to buy beach from property in Arizona if the ads were nice and there was a church nearby. I loved my mom; she was my best friend, but she had a fucking golf ball in her arm pit and she didn’t notice it. All she cared about was going to the Baseball Hall of Fame to see Tony Gwynn inducted. I mean I get her excitement, she was obsessed with the Padres, but her health seemed so secondary that I didn’t push her to do chemo and I should have. I mean, fuck, I don’t wish this shit on anyone but if she’d done it maybe she’d still be here. She was a nut, but she loved her grandkids and I feel bad that they lost her, especially my tiny nephew, Hawthorne because he was a baby and he’ll never remember her and even though she drove me up the fucking wall with her religious bullshit and her tennis matches I really think she was worth remembering.
So I guess this justifies my being on chemo. I hate it. I want to give up a lot. I think about it all the time, just calling the oncologist and saying I’ve had enough. I take people with me because I can’t stand being there alone. I know deep inside me that if I had not lost my mom two years ago I would not be where I am now, in New York, working on my career and becoming a stronger person for having my own cancer. My mom’s death changed my life completely. It made it better. It made me finally own my own existence instead of relying on her for all my decisions. I fumble daily with things, but I am getting better all the time, and I miss her constantly, but I thank her for making mistakes that I have learned from. I’m on chemo because my mom wasn’t. I hate it so much, but I know I have to do it. I mean, yes, I do believe there has to be a better option somewhere; a more natural one, but this is what there is now and until that is discovered I have to do this. I know I won’t be the one to discover it but maybe one of my nieces or nephews will, or maybe I’ll have money one day to help fund research in a more natural and animal friendly way. Anyhow, I’m sure that in a year from now when I get a cold or a stomach bug and feel like crap I won’t complain so much because I will remember how fucking awful I feel right at this moment.