Expectations

As I write this, I am uncomfortable. The entire night I was unable to sleep due to a pulling sensation at my port site, unable to move my right leg without assistance due to said pain and hot flashes that caused me to sleep on top of the covers. For the last few days I have been unable to sleep much, unable to walk much and unable to eat much. Because I can’t really eat I dry heave. Sometimes I worry I won’t keep my medications down.

I am scheduled for two more rounds of this IP chemotherapy that is causing all this. I have decided I do not want to do it. I am returning to the traditional carboplatin/taxol combo I was on intravenously before.

In a way though, I feel like I am letting myself down. I have gone through so much and always wanted the most aggressive treatments to have the best chances. I was able to withstand two surgeries and 3 rounds of chemo. It has been debilitating these last 4 months yet somehow I was able to continue. Just a few days of this and I cannot. I always liked to think I was tougher.

A part of me wants to continue this therapy to prove to myself that I can get through this. I have/had expectations of myself and right now I feel like I am falling short of them. Logically I know I am not. The rest of me just doesn’t want to anymore. It is this side I am listening to. I can handle the regular body aches and the side effects from chemo. This pain however is unbearable. Think of feeling 4 months pregnant while undergoing all the regular chemo symptoms with a pulling sensation on your right side during menopause. That is pretty much the hell I am living currently.

Well, at least I gave it a shot. At least I tried.

Fearless

When I first was diagnosed with cancer, I bought this necklace for myself. It was a necklace that I had seen in the store I worked at. Pre-cancer I liked it because it reminded me to always go after my dreams.  Post cancer it means something different entirely.

The meaning of this necklace to me is now rather multi-layered. The first layer is about being fearless against those things that really frighten me. I don’t think I ever felt as raw a fear as when I heard the word “cancer” come out of my doctors mouth. I spent a good 3-4 weeks being very fearful of dying and working hard to overcome it. I can honestly now say I do not fear death. I do not fear the treatments.

For the last month ( exactly today actually!) I have been in correspondence with and now dating Professor Fearless . One of the things that originally attracted me to him was his dedication to living an authentic life – one free of fear. I thought it was awfully interesting that his nom de plume included the word “fearless”, a word I carried with me every day around my neck. Yesterday we went to go see Jeff, who lives at home. The main character, Jeff, is always seeing signs. He is searching for some sign of what he’s supposed to be doing with his life. In that same vein, I like to think that this fearlessness both Professor and I share perhaps may be a sign.

There are plenty of other “signs” I feel mark this as the start of something wonderful. He and I have struggled our entire lives with weight and body image issues. We both lost 100+ lbs and have radically changed the way we eat. We both have dealt with crippling depression and anxiety. We both were born under the astrological sign taurus. When I was getting to know him I felt like every other sentence was punctuated with a “Me too!” . We are both so similar and yet have enough differences to learn from one another and keep it exciting. Now, when I look at my fearless necklace…I think of him. Instead of thinking of cancer and death I think of love and life. That is perhaps the greatest gift he has given me. He motivates me every day to get better. I’m now really excited to live again and see what kind of adventures we’ll have together.

For the first time in a really long time I feel a lack of fear at the notion of growing close to someone. There is no fear he will hurt me. There is no wondering how he feels. Our communication is so honest and heartfelt and comfortable. He backs up his words with action. I know that I am a strong woman. For once, I finally feel like I have found a man who is as equally fearless. He’s not afraid of my cancer. He’s not afraid of commitment. He is there.

Dating with Cancer

As I look back at all the entries I have made, there is one topic that I see I really have not discussed much. Dating with cancer.

As I have stated previously, Most people expect the sick to stay single if they were pre-disease. I’d like to know why people think this. Are cancer patients not worthy of love anymore or capable of finding it? Are they somehow now “unavailable”? In my opinion, I think not.

I think cancer patients are every bit as worthy of finding love as a healthy person. So long as they are very clear and upfront with potential partners about their disease and the other person is willing to go along for the ride…so what? Besides, once we label cancer patients as unlovable where do we stop? Do you take into consideration stage – those who fall into stage 1 or 2 are somehow more lovable than stage 3 or 4? What about other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, depression etc?

I think the way people view cancer patients needs to change in some ways. When a person gets cancer, how most respond to you is overwhelmingly positive. But you are also elevated to almost a non-person status. No matter what you did or who you were before you’re now the poor, fighting soul who has cancer. Aren’t you so brave?? Aren’t you so strong??? Even if you weren’t either prior to your disease, well – you are now.

But while imbuing positive traits we remove other more human traits such as sexuality. Nobody would describe a woman who has cancer as “sexy”. “Beautiful” yes, but sexy no. We get infantalized and it’s not fair. We are still human. We still have the same wants and needs for love, affection and yes, even sex as before. Our capability for them perhaps may have changed or has been altered but we never stop being who we are. I can still walk into a bar and make heads turn. I’m still a woman. I’m just a woman with a port now. I’m a woman who sometimes doesn’t feel good. I’m a woman with healing wounds. I’m a bald woman, yes. But I’m still a woman.

So that is why I will not allow cancer to stop me from dating. Because I am every bit as worthy as being loved as I was before. Because you don’t get to choose when that amazing man steps into your life. Because cancer or no cancer, he’s here and I’d be a fool to not date him.