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.
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.