The Wait

I’m waiting for the side-effects of Thursday’s chemo to kick in fully.  I can feel the deep aches beginning to build in my joints, like cruel little harbingers of what’s to come.  The waiting is a kind of mental torture – there is a feeling of helplessness knowing that the side-effects are coming and there’s just no getting out of their way. 

My husband has to be away this week on business and to say the timing is bad would be to understate it absurdly;  we both hate the idea of being apart through this time, knowing how difficult it was last time around, but we have reconciled ourselves to it.

The good thing is I’m not alone.  My mom has moved in to take care of me and help wrangle my daughter, and friends and family have dropped off food, or dropped e-mails and phone calls offering their help — assuring me once again in ways big and small that I am not alone. 

It makes a huge difference, this not being alone.  I know that I am lucky, even if that’s not necessarily a word normally associated with someone who has cancer. 

Right now, as I wait for the chemo to do its necessary evil, I’m thinking back to other times when the waiting was grueling: waiting for tests, waiting for results, waiting for the nausea, waiting to lose my hair…  Sometimes the not-knowing was maddening, even if finding out was more devastating. 

But I wasn’t alone during those times either – I’ve pretty much dragged everyone I love through every nuance of suspense and fear with me.  I have sent e-mail updates covering such turns of events as “Now it’s in the lymph nodes…” or “Now we’re checking the liver, lungs and bones…”  These were the missives waiting in the inboxes of my unsuspecting loved-ones from the very early days of my diagnosis.  I used a lot of detail describing tests.  I was almost perversely graphic and honest sometimes, using sound effects, like “schlook” and “ge-shunk” to vividly recreate the experiences of various biopsies. 

Not strong on subtlety, I admit, but I always felt that people could choose to stop reading if it’s too much for them, whereas for my part I need to share it.  Every time I put something out there, it’s no longer residing in me alone, building tension and choking me with fear.  Every time someone replies, whether with a quick word or a dissertation, it bolsters me.  I know for certain that I wouldn’t bear the psychological torment of these waiting games if I thought I was alone.

So my thoughts are with anyone else out there who is waiting today – for tests, for results, for side effects to kick in.  My wish for you is that you’re not waiting alone, and whatever may come, you won’t face it alone. Or, if someone you know is waiting I hope that you can find some way to show them that you are standing by them, because, at least in my experience, courage doesn’t come in a vacuum, whereas fear seems to thrive in one.

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Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

0 responses to “The Wait

  1. Pink Prairie Angel

    had my first mammogram three months after my radiation treatments ended. Then, the waiting game started again, and I found myself unable to sleep at night, and then I would catch up on my sleep during the day. Although my oncologist told me that everything should be fine with my first mammogram post breast cancer treatment, I couldn’t help wondering and worrying about the ‘unknown.’ It’s so easy for others to say, “it will all turn out well.” However, they haven’t gone through invasive breast cancer, the painful biopsies, even more painful surgeries, a life threatening bout of post surgery staph infection that hospitalized me for five days on life saving IV antibiotics; and then those awful chemo treatments that left me with severe mouth sores for up to ten days after each chemo treatment, and then finally, I thought that I was home free with just some radiation treatments needed to my right breast and under arm area because I had had 17 lymph nodes removed (one had been cancerous). Sometimes, my husband says, that when people with good intentions say things that seem insensitive to me, he tells me that he is so proud of me for having survived all that I’ve been through since July 25, 2007. Regardless, the Waiting Game is always the hardest part of this breast cancer journey. Well, as it would happen, my recent mammogram from July 2008 showed some ‘abnormal microcalcifications of concern in my Left breast.’ So, after waiting for over three months for my physician, oncologist and radiologist to decide what to do next regarding my left breast, finally my physician has ordered a followup mammogram to be done on both breasts next week because an ultrasound showed a cyst in the area of my right breast lumpectomy. Thank God, that further diagnostic tests will be done, but I’m scared of the possibility that I mgiht have to endure another Year of Hell! So, again the Waiting Game continues and I am still wondering when I will be able to get on with my life now that my cancer treatments are done. But, I am plagued by chronic debilitating fatigue all the time. So since my radiation treatments finished in May, I’ve been sleeping more than 12 hours a day and since early September, I’ve been feeling even more exhausted than I’d felt in a long time. I know that I now have to recognize and accept that my life will have a new ‘normal’. But, I’m worried just the same because one of my cousins had breast cancer twice, had treatments twice, but sadly she died of her breast cancer. So, it’s good to know that there are other people like me going through the Waiting Game of breast cancer! I want to live; NO, I want to SURVIVE Breast Cancer forever! So, this waiting game is just part of my new ‘normal’ life. Still, I am staying up at night pondering my future and wondering how I will get through what may lay ahead for me in the Journey of Breast Cancer. It’s a scary road to travel when my immediate family and long time close friends all live over 2000 km away from me. Thankfully, my husband has been ‘my rock’ for so long, but I also worry about the toll on his health from being my caregiver. So, in closing, I just want to say that you are very right that writing this blog gets all the stress and anxiety out on paper and hopefully out of me. I need to be strong again. I walked the 5 km Run for the Cure this year and I was exhausted but thrilled that I succeeded in my goal for breast cancer research in Canada. So, I think I will start walking 1 – 3 km every day again so that I can find strength to endure the future ‘normal’ of my life!

  2. Dee

    I know I probably won’t say the words you need to hear, but for all it is worth, I am thinking of you and all you are going thru and sending you support and strength and peace. I am waiting to have a lumpectomy and then I will be waiting for results. I am full of fear and worry. I can’t believe this is happening to me, I guess because I believed all the stuff you read about changing your diet, exercise, to minimize your risks, I am not high risk and yet here I am waiting. Thank you for sharing your life, and thank you for being so honest. I hope you aren’t alone either. Dee

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