Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Luminous Emotions

When I started this blog, it was a means of letting family and friends know what was going on with Vic and I in the land of cancer. Then it became a way to document the procedures. After chemo started, I referred back to the blog to see what happened on which day . . .sort of wanted to know if what I was feeling was “normal”. As if anything to do with cancer is normal.

I also wanted to let other women facing breast cancer know what the journey was like for me. I found it helpful to read other blogs . . and sometimes not so helpful as it scared the crap out of me. But I needed to read/hear from others who had gone before me – not rely just on the doctor’s words of how the procedure was going to be. I should have asked the doctor – “So, when did you have [insert procedure]?” They can’t really know what it’s like unless they’ve been on the surgery table or in that chemo recliner.

It was scary to put out for the world to read that I had hit a black hole of depression after surgery. But it was real and the feelings were real.

We often hear, “S/He is battling cancer”. I thought these words were weird when I first was diagnosed – battle? What battle? It wasn’t until chemo did I understand. Chemo did feel like a fight and battle. A battle to keep nausea at bay with antiemetics. A battle to find something palatable to eat. A battle to make complete sentences or thoughts because of chemo brain. A battle to find strength to go to work (forget strength to do things around the house!). It was just a battle. A trying and tiring battle.

I’ve been very emotional for the past few weeks; tearful. Energy to get to work but zero energy to do anything else. Is it sadness? Is it depression? Is it because I’ve used up a year’s worth of energy and emotions to battle through chemo?

Christmas and Vic’s birthday and the lack of presents started the roller coaster of emotions. Anger at not having the energy I normally have. Sadness.

Some positive and not so positive changes have happened at work. My responsibilities may change once the director returns from her 2-month medical leave. This might be a negative and I need to figure out how I’m going to deal with it. Is this factoring into the emotions the past few weeks? Probably.

I was fearful of the simulation – fear of the unknown. I am anxious about this 2nd simulation coming up Friday – the unknown again. Probably factoring into the emotions as well. But I will make it through this 3rd leg of this cancer triathlon. They tell me it is the easiest of the three.

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I wrote the above on Sunday before I forced myself to get out of the house. Most weekends I stay in – I’m self-conscious about the scarf and no hair. I know, I know. I shouldn’t be – but I am. I am comfortable going to work because they accept me. They were there from the beginning and have watched the transformation.

When a customer looks at me and does that double-take – and you cancer survivors know what I am talking about – I just give them a big smile. Do I want to smile? Nope. It’s my way of taking control of the situation. But when I’m in public, I don’t do the fake smile routine.

It was good to finally process all the emotions that have been circling in my head for a few weeks. Acknowledge them. Deal with them. Heal them.

This cancer trip causes your emotions to go every which way. And it can change from hour to hour. And that’s okay.

I've done the research on Triple Negative Breast Cancer, research on the surgery, the port-a-cath, research on chemoland, and research on radiation. It helped prepare my questions for the doctor visits.

Now I'm researching how to have a healthy survivorship . . . a healthy after-cancer-triathlon life. I found a great website - Wendy Harpham on Healthy Survivorship. Here are a couple of her entries that helped me to get out of this funk.

Stressed About Stressing
Psychological Interventions Improve Survival
Indirect Health Benefits


"You see, it's never the environment; it's never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events - how we interpret them - that shapes who we are today and who we'll become tomorrow." -- Anthony Robbins


  1. WOW Mommy! I really and truely love you! You are my HERO!

  2. Hi Renee
    I am very grateful that you've taken the time and energy to put your experiences out there. I read your site often to see what I might expect. I know everyone reacts to chemo differently but there are alot of similarities. Yep we are in a battle: with the disease itself, the treatment and our emotions. Then we have the workplace, insurance, family issues on top of that.
    Thanks so much for being there.
    Your TNBC sister

  3. You have a way with words too. Aunt Ruth has and I have done some writing too.
    But it helps, not only yourself, but many others. So we thank you for sharing of yourself and thoughts. We appreciate it.
    Love you Renee, Dawn

  4. Hi Renee -
    You sound very calm; thank you for sharing everything.

  5. Dawn is right, you do have a way with words. Did you always write like this or is this a good side effect? Your brother's head would explode if he had to do the whole, donut/hands in stirrups thing. Sounds like you were very brave. We love you and think of you all the time. Kiss Vic.