Timeline — July 8 – Today I Cried

Today, I cried. I cried because I have cancer. I cried because my cancer is real. The thing about some people with cancer (I can’t speak for everyone) is that every morning when you wake up, for just a moment you think, “Wow that was surreal, I thought I had cancer” and then you realize it wasn’t a dream, the cancer is real and you start your day. This morning, for the first time, I didn’t have that surreal moment of peace. Last night, in my dreams I had cancer and when I woke up, there was no nanosecond, no moment for me to pretend. I cried because cancer is irrevocably changing my life. The good that will come from this – and I know there will be good — is still so unclear to me right now. I know that God has a plan, it just hasn’t yet been revealed.

I cried because my hair is falling out in clumps. I know it’s just hair and people always say that, “It’s just hair.” But the thing is, most all of those people have hair! But, there is something more to this. In a way, your hair is part of your identity…it’s a part of you. I cried this morning when my husband, ever so gently, brushed my hair and cut it shorter and shorter with such tenderness and love. I’m half bald now. I look like a Q-tip. I have this one clump of very thick hair that I can’t bring myself to shave off. I think I look a little like Larry from The Three Stooges, but only on half of my head. I recognize some of you reading this are far too young to appreciate the reference.

I remember BC (before cancer), I’d walk by a mirror and I would quickly and hopefully cleverly, sneak a glance at myself to make sure I looked put together (no spinach in my teeth or something), and then I’d quickly look away. Let’s face it, no one really wants to be caught looking at themselves in the mirror, so it was always an attempt at a nonchalant glance. Today when I walk by a mirror I stop and I stare. I stare because I don’t know that person who is looking back at me. I don’t recognize her. I look in her eyes and I still see strength, but I also see weakness. Where I used to see stoicism, I see fear, a slight crack in the armor. Where I used to see a fighting spirit, I see just the slightest bit of resignation. I don’t know this person. But where I used to see resilience, I see greater resilience. That’s how I know I’m still me, just different. I’m still here.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I’m on the ledge. I am firmly off the ledge. Today, while in the midst of my own pity party I turned on the radio and caught a segment of a sermon by Joel Osteen. For those of you who know me, you know I hold three men (other than God) at the top of my “most meaningful to my life” list – My husband, Joel Osteen, and Darius Rucker – all for different reasons of course. I tuned in just in time for Joel to remind me that grieving is part of the healing process. What’s that saying of his? “Don’t let a season of mourning turn into a lifetime of sorrow. What’s in my future is greater than what’s in my past.” That made me smile. My mother used to say that God may not come when you call but he’s always right on time. I suppose that’s true. I always hear the Word when I least expect it, but when I most need it. Today, as always, Mom was right — God was right on time.

Healthwise, I’m doing fine. I’m headed into my next chemo session, which means I will be more than half done on the 20th and I can’t wait! The last chemo really threw me for a loop. I hadn’t expected to be so weak and dare I say, feeble, for several days, and nauseated every day. My bones ache and sometimes I can’t move. It’s a weird feeling. I read somewhere that exercise helps with chemo side effects. Seems counterintuitive, but I figured, why not? So I started walking two miles a day on my good days. On my bad days, I work hard to walk one mile if I can. On my worst days I stay in bed. I won’t set any speed records but at least I’m trying. I even started going to a Zumba class once a week! It’s designed for cancer patients. Most days I make it through. Some days, I just watch. I appreciate the camaraderie and support of the ladies in the group.

I feel better now and I’m not sad at all. I did a little retail therapy (online of course). Nothing like buying something you don’t need to lift your spirits! A friend gave me a water bottle that says “Shopping is my favorite cardio!” So, at least my fingers are getting a workout on the keyboard every time I click “add to cart.” The UPS guy and I are really close. He says I’m helping him build his muscles because of the amount of Amazon boxes he brings to the house each day! Why didn’t I buy stock in Amazon when it was $100 a share?

That’s it for now friends. Be well.

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