The Wall 

It’s happening right now. I reached the place I have heard about from so many who came before me.

I hit the post-treatment wall.

I will tell you about what happened, but note that the trigger is somewhat irrelevant. It doesn’t really matter what makes you hit the wall, it just matters that it happened.

I will define the wall like this: the sudden and surprising revelation that you had cancer, you suffered immeasurably, it changed you permanently and now it’s over and you realize that everything is different and terrifying.

I knew it was coming. When in treatment I faced every day as an individual. Get through this, Grace. Then we will worry about what comes next. This was an easy way to live. Baby steps.

Now, ahead of me, is the great beyond. I don’t have one particular thing to get through today. I just feel like a normal person. There is nothing specific to surmount. That absence of focus has left me feeling nervous over the last few weeks, but certainly not panicked.

Until today.

I came across an article that basically says there is definitive research to prove that early breast cancer cells spread around the body before the primary tumor can even be detected. 

Metastasis. Has it already happened within me? Are there rogue cancer cells waiting somewhere in my body? And if so, what will activate them? Gene mutations that I can’t control or, worse, GMOs or even stress? What activated my cancer in the first place? I have no idea, as I was a very healthy 35 year old woman with no BRCA mutations.

It took a few hours to digest the article. I read it around dinnertime and went about my evening. As I lay in bed trying to sleep, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Is ‘it’ still in there? Seriously, WTF, IS IT STILL IN THERE?

By midnight I couldn’t take it anymore. I woke up my husband and burst into uncontrollable tears. The article is what tipped me over the edge, but I had been hovering there for weeks already, just waiting for a push.

Tonight, for the first time this entire year, I feel scared. I wasn’t scared before my surgeries or before chemo. I never feared for my life. Until tonight. It all came crashing down on me.

Holy shit I am so scared. This could kill me. Breast cancer could absolutely kill me. It isn’t over. It will never be over. I will always be at risk for recurrence. This is my life now. How do I live each day with this knowledge?

The panic is real. I’m talking, ‘please someone hit me with a tranq dart,’ real.

I am laying in bed crying aloud that I just want the opportunity to die when I’m old, of old people stuff. Walls. Crashing. Down.

Even in my current state of utter meltdown, I can recognize that some of this is irrational. I am so lucky to have caught my cancer early, blah blah blah, but now this article tells me that doesn’t really matter. Even if I did catch it early, I am unlucky enough to have a completely prophylactic chest, very little feeling in my right upper arm, lymphedema, and a compromised immune system, among other things. I am allowed to freak the fuck out.

And freaking the fuck out I am.

Because I am here where so many told me I would be. Facing the new life I have that I didn’t ask for. I have to start tomorrow to learn to live again as a person who had cancer. I have to, piece by piece, sift through all the feelings and fears I compartmentalized because it was just too much to process during treatment. It’s time to unpack.

Paging Dr. Marvin, Dr. Leo Marvin!

I’m silly and kooky and irreverent, but I am also afraid. I have to find a way to come to terms with my mortality because it’s all so fragile. I have to allow myself the space and time to process and heal emotionally.

I thought cancer was over and this blog might wither away because there isn’t much left to say. How wrong I was.

My life is just starting and I am afraid.

Walk with me.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate Cloud says:

    Walking with you, dear Grace.💐

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    We are all walking with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emily Boccia says:

    I felt that as I was going through my chemo that I was somehow protected and when it was over I felt vulnerable! I think about this everyday! Are there cancer cells? Where are they? When will I know? I don’t want to know!!!!
    I’m right with you Grace! But each day- wake up, be thankful, put one foot in front of the other, and live!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Thank you for this insight Emily and your kind words of support. Baby steps.

      Like

  4. lindseasnow says:

    Big hugs and fairy dust coming your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Send all the dust

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lindseasnow says:

        Careful- it might make you fly 🙂

        Like

  5. Patricia Handloss says:

    Yes, time helps, but it is always with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Denise says:

    Dear GRACE
    I have followed your journey over time and have always been amazed the way you have fought the battle with humor and bravery.
    You are so allowed to find a wall and fear what is on the other side.
    Somehow you will find the motivation and courage to break through. Let time and family help you as well as faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Thank you Denise and thank you for following along. I am very lucky to have a wonderful family who helps me at every turn.

      Like

  7. Lindsay says:

    I had this same feeling 2 nights ago, with a BRCA mutation, I have a 30% rate of reoccurence in the first year
    That’s after a bilateral mastectomy. It’s terrifying that I may have to do this all over and maybe next time, it will be even worse. We are having these thoughts too and walking with you into the unknown. Fuck cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Amen sister.

      Like

  8. Anonymous says:

    we are with you Grace-lots of love

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jean says:

    Oh no you don’t! I was diagnosed a little after you were and have been following your blog ever since. Our treatment paths are not identical, but close enough that I have been able to gain perspective from your experiences. I love your style of writing and your easy wit.
    Lately I have found myself reading the obituaries of women to see if I can tell their cause of death and if it’s breast cancer I feel a little shiver. Yes, I know many women who have beaten this disease and all have given me lots of encouragement that I will too. But what makes the difference from those who don’t? And now reading your blog today, I see that our thoughts are in tune. Well, I think we need to heed the advice of the other commenters who recommend one day at a time and no more perseverating on what might be next. I’m game if you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous says:

    So beautifully written and perfectly captures exactly how I feel. I read an article that said post (successful) stem cell transplant patients can still relapse. Cured? Not so much. I walk with you. Let’s just keep manifesting the positive.

    Like

  11. mygrancerblog says:

    Jean, I think we all fall into the fear boat at some point. I agree, how can we differentiate those who survived and those who didn’t? We can’t. It’s a game of faith, luck and gene mutations. BLARGH.

    Like

  12. Ann Grauer says:

    We got you. And you can walk with me. I still have fear about Mark after his cancer. And I don’t know how it feels to be you but I can be here.
    Big hugs!
    Ann

    Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    thank you so much for this!! i feel exactly the same. you said my words as i say to my husband. much love and hope to you!

    Like

  14. Maggie says:

    I felt the same way. And each visit with my oncologist I was sure that she would tell me I had a recurrence. But the chemo is still working even when it’s not coming in through your port, and chemo goes after cancer not just in the breast but all throughout your body. (And I think I read that you were getting herceptin. If you are you can be confident in that drug. It’s badass). I’m 8 years cancer free. Going through treatments I couldn’t see myself getting to this point, but here I am, at a place where I go without thinking about breast cancer every moment. (I am reminded of it daily due to lymphedema and having to wear a sleeve, but in this artic weather at least one arm/hand are somewhat warm). Your docs will continue to follow-up with you and it will be a while before you see them less frequently.

    Like

  15. Patrick Sweeney says:

    “Every Day I Fight” says Stuart Scott (in his book) . . . like you fight. We are walking with you and praying for you. And you’ve been given the Grace when you were given your name. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Thank you for following along Pat. Hugs-

      Like

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