I haven't been writing much here because I've just been meandering down the path known as life with chemo, but the other day I hit a bump in the road to my good attitude. This wasn't a little cautionary road bump reminding me to keep my speed in check, but a huge boulder blocking the path. Thankfully I have some people who offered up support and helped me get around it, but it took a little time and effort, and a whole lot of convincing that I needed to keep moving forward.
I don't want to create the impression on this blog that cancer is really no big deal because that would be a lie. But neither do I want to focus only on the negative because that's not what I want my life to be about. What if the cancer kills me within the next two or three years? Do I really want my last bit of time with my husband and dogs to be all about how tragic everything has become?
I want it to be time worth living.
Which is why that big old rock that boxed me in for a while sort of came out of left field, although maybe I should have expected it.
See, I am a total and complete wimp when it comes to the idea of anything surgical as it applies to my body. I have no children, partly because women speak so freely about their birthing experiences. I have one cousin who was there for the birth of her sister's second son, and she told me how beautiful the whole experience was. I do not see the beauty in birth. I see pain, I see lots of opportunities to suffer from some sort of permanent damage, I see the history of the birthing process leading to death for countless women and infants. Yes, I know that most people see the benefit of walking away with a baby well worth the risk.
I am not one of them.
Don't get me wrong -- I can take a shot to the arm with the best of them, and I'm not squeamish about the nurses accessing my port with the IV thingy whenever I get my chemo treatments. But that's different because I'm conscious, and the chances of me dying during that process are pretty small, even if you include the risk of possible infections.
So I've sort of put "surgery" in a box and stuck it on the top shelf in the closet that holds all the useless junk that never sees the light of day, where I planned to leave it until I finished my last round of chemo. And since I've got three more treatments, I haven't really been preparing myself to deal with surgery just yet. I was saving it for later.
Until Wednesday, when I met with the genetic counselor, and had to go rifling through that box to prepare for the realities of the very near future.
Let me just say that I really didn't expect our discussion to take me to the dark side of my personality so easily. This is the side of myself that I have worked so hard to -- I want to say "conquer" but that's not quite right -- get a handle on. It's the side that makes me want to rail at the world about the inequalities that I see in the world, and it's the part of me that can be very cruel, both to others and to myself.
It's also the reason why I haven't gone down the path of "I hate cancer, I'm going to kick cancer's ass" like I see with so many other people online. I am not saying that this way of dealing with cancer is wrong because we are all just doing the best we can, trying to survive.
But I'm saying that it's wrong for me, because that kind of anger would lead me back to a rut of self-hate that I have worked so hard to avoid the past few years. It can be pretty difficult to shut down that self-destructive record that plays over and over again when you know all the words by heart, but when you replace it with a different story, a different record, it's possible to live a better life.
So Wednesday saw me tempted to fall back into bad habits. But thanks to my husband, all my friends who gave me the encouragement I needed on Facebook, and my best friend from college, I am convinced that I am back on the healthier road to prevailing against cancer right now.
I promise to talk specifically about my session with the genetic counselor in my next post, but I just wanted everyone to know that while it's not all rosy, life is not so terrible these days. Both mentally and physically, I feel like I am doing well, or at least as well as can be expected at this stage. I have the support system that I need to help me bounce back when stuff doesn't go my way, and I am not afraid to reach out for help.
I'm not living in a world of denial, but I am hopeful, and that's something that I don't take for granted.
And the title of this post?
Those are the foods that I have been eating to get more iron into my blood. I am determined to have no blood transfusions before surgery. So far, so good.