In the beginning it’s the feeling of being trapped in questions and bombarded with the unknown. It’s palpable and ever-present; there’s no escape from the not knowing that you can really feel how confined you truly are.
Before the surgery it’s knowing that surgery date is fast approaching and no matter how much you wish away your tumor it’s not going to just up and vanish and soon they will be cutting off your tit and you can’t do anything to change that.
After the surgery it’s the drains. You don’t realize you can’t move the same. I mean, I knew I had less range of motion and I knew I had pain and could potentially bust a stitch, but I had no idea how much I had lessened my movement until I had the drains removed two weeks after surgery and my right shoulder was so sore and felt like it had been pulled out of socket. I felt freed after they were both removed. Even my left arm had been used less. It was a nice relief, but still surprises me how much I hadn’t been doing without even realizing it.
During chemo it’s being attached to that fucking IV pole and that robot machine. I had to take that damn thing with me to the bathroom! Being on AC I was confined to not making plans far ahead (like even an hour) and never knowing how rotten or how not-so-rotten I would feel. Once AC was done it was another sense of freedom knowing nothing could possibly be as bad as that. The Taxol wasn’t as bad, but the pains were pretty awful and I was confined to being at home, or confined to relying on a cane to get anywhere.
With chemo done I feel free. I still have to suffer the side effects of the last treatment, but in two weeks I will see how I feel and it’ll be the first time in a very long time that I won’t be recovering from my most resent treatment. That will be the definitive marker for me that chemo is really done. Even if the pains and neuropathy aren’t entirely gone I’ll still feel free because I’m done!
I am confined again by having to deal with the potential long term side effects, like my fertility, and then there’s the tri-weekly visits for Herceptin that will reunite me with my IV pole and robot. And for five years I’ll be a slave to Tamoxifen. Of course we can’t forget my next surgery in five weeks where I’ll be trapped with the drains again. Here’s hoping that goes by fast and I only have to keep them for one week this time.
There always seems to be an end in sight but each end is also a new beginning. If I can look at all things that end, the good and bad, with the understanding that they are not an end alone but a start to something new, than maybe I can find more happiness in the mundane changes in my life. Cancer was a big wave in my ocean but what little ripples have I been missing?