The Storm

There is a big storm here today – a blizzard.  The snow keeps coming down and piling up, traffic slides and crawls, and on the sidewalks people bend forward and stumble into the horizontal blast of a Canadian winter reminding everyone who’s boss.

I’m feeling a little like the cancer is showing me who’s boss today.  Not physically, but by virtue of it kicking the ass of my optimism.  The fear that the cancer might have spread to my bones or further colonized my lungs is coming down and piling up.  I’m trying to navigate it but I keep sliding and stumbling. I dread the CT scan tomorrow because I dread the results.  

I’ve had a stormy day – torrents of tears, bolts of anger, clouds of despair.  A darkness of helplessness and a heaviness of frustration and a hail-storm of anxieties. You name it, it came crashing down. Luckily I had a session with my cancer shrink scheduled for today, but the best I could do was plow through a box of Kleenex asking, “Why can’t anyone stop it? Why can’t anyone fix it?” The pathetic futility of my questions only set me further adrift, and he had his work cut out for him just to bring me back to a basic acceptance of the anger and fear.

Of course, I know that the CT scan could possibly tell me that the cancer has stabilized, or even started to shrink.  After all, my neck lumps have disappeared.  (Is that a glimmer of sunlight I see?)

But like a Pavlovian dog, I’ve been conditioned to expect bad news each and every time they scan my body. Last time, even though my lymph nodes had stabilized, my lungs showed evidence of progression. (Nope, just more storm clouds.)

The coughing and the pain in my ribs make me even more fearful; maybe these are symptoms that the cancer has further spread.  Like walking out into a blizzard with nothing but a light jacket and city boots, my trusty tools Denial and Distraction aren’t offering me much protection in these conditions.

There are many hours in the day when I am functioning and managing as though everything is okay – or going to be.  But underneath is always a growing sense of foreboding. And also no small amount of anger that I have to feel this way – this afraid – again.

Yes, I know what this is: classic fear of the unknown. Thank-you Dr. Freud. But let’s not go so far as to say it’s “just” fear.  I am aware it’s not bad news yet and it may never be bad news, but that’s only my reason trying to wrestle with my emotion. Sometimes emotion wins.  This is one of those times.

I’m writing this while I’m still in the darkness.  I could have waited until I was in a brighter place, feeling less fragile, but what would be the point of that?  In a way, the act of sharing this fear does shrink it, if only a little. If I think about how many people might be out there reading this – how many different portions my fear might be divided into – it somehow feels a little better, a bit more manageable.  When I read the comments it’s like they take little chips out of the icy wall of fear, like they help take the cancer down a notch. Like I get a little bit bigger, just a little less vulnerable. 

I don’t know what the name is for that unscientific phenomenon, I only know it’s true.  It’s a small shelter from the storm, but it’s a shelter nonetheless.



Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

14 responses to “The Storm

  1. momof3


    We’re all with you every step of the way. I will keep you in my prayers and ask God to comfort you and support you tomorrow and always.
    I so look forward to reading your blog; your honesty and sense of humor are unparalleled.

    I wish I had the appropriate words to lift you up and encourage you. Please know that you are not alone! ~

  2. Eva

    Leanne dear,I know too what you are talking about! next month I have 9 appoitments among them bronchoscopy, mammogram, CT scan, (lung,breast and cervix), and I will wait for the results too!
    BUT!Next month will be the 28th year anniversary that I am doing these in snow storms with and without finding the shelters,fearing the worse but hoping for the best! I am with you as many many friends of yours do too!You are not alone in this fight, do not give it up!But tell us, still, if it is stormy again! Lots of love Eva

  3. Phoenix Deb

    Sending lots of love from Phoenix – where the sun’s shining for you, bella.

  4. Judy & Bill

    for what it’s worth this is an adage I heard yesterday

    We have a lot to think about
    But nothing to be afraid of

    Hang tough!

  5. Katie

    Hi Leanne,
    I’m out here and hoping I can take a little chip away from you (or maybe evena big one). Thank you (always) for sharing yourself so generously with us.


  6. Celia McBride

    Your honesty means everything to us, Leanne. It is the hope manifest. Loving you through this. Celia x

  7. Aunty Carol

    Thank you for sharing your more vulnerable side with us. If all the people fighting for you could take a little chip away, you would be the healthiest person alive. With much love and positive thoughts. Aunty Carol

  8. Sheila

    I’m taking a chip too Leanne. Thank you for sharing your scariest and darkest moments along with the hope and humor. We don’t know each other but I’m out here, one of hundreds, or probably even thousands of people who read your blog faithfully and wish with all my heart to be able to make it all go away.
    When you’re not feeling strong just know that you have a lot of … communal? universal? group? strength to draw on. Big huge hugs for you, and many prayers that the CT scan is going to show good results. Focusing on that sunshine, warm and healthy. xo Sheila

  9. Susan Seads

    Dearest Leanne, we are all your shelter, lean on us. Praying hard for you as I do for my daughter Caroline, every single day.
    Both of you are amazing, incredible women.
    Keep fighting with all your might Leanne and you WILL win this battle.

  10. Gwen

    Dear Leanne: So today was the day of your scan. How I hope that the messages from your virtual cheering section were able to chip away a huge hunk of that frozen rock of fear, and that the thousands of positive thoughts sent towards you helped you to get through today’s ordeal. As someone who has so far been lucky enough to escape anything similar to what you are enduring, I can only imagine what it is like, and how the constant uncertainty must wear on your nerves and those of your family. As others have said, and even though it’s probably not what you particularly want to be, you are indeed an inspiration, in your obvious bravery and your wonderful sense of humour, but also in your ability and willingness to describe your darker feelings and thoughts, things which to me seem much more personal and more difficult to share. Just remember that when things are really s#@**y, you don’t always have to “look on the bright side of life”, no matter what Brian and Monty Python advocated. Your support network is always here. By the way, I think the network is getting larger and larger by the day, and that can only be a good thing! Wishing you strength, Leanne. G.

  11. Anita

    I’m posting to carry a chip of your fear for you, and to make you a little bit bigger.

    Big hugs, and fingers crossed,


  12. angela

    Take shelter here by all means,if I could wrap my arms around you I would.

  13. Georg W.

    Leanne, stay away from the dark side, it didn’t help Vader. I will bring my jackhammer to help break away some big chunks of fear away for you.

    You are in our thoughts and hopes every day. Pull from the strength of others and feel our good thoughts of and for you.

    There is a saying I have heard, believe from a song,

    If GOD closes a door, HE then opens a window.

    Let our force be with you.


    • Leanne

      my ice chippers – what would I do without you? what would this dark time look like without the glimmer of all these messages of hope, commiseration, solidarity, and (ok yes I’ll say it even though i don’t even know you) love. Thank-you.

      I’m not sure what it takes to read one of my blog posts and then decide to take the extra time and thought and effort to leave me a message so that I know you’re out there, and so that other people know they’re not going through this in a vacuum. I think it takes a certain kind of courage to show that kind of humanity and make that connection. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds comfort in what you write. These words — “thank-you” — don’t do justice to the gratitude I feel. At the very least I just want to make sure you all know it isn’t taken for granted by me (or by my family.)

      I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but at least I know that I’m not going into it alone. Thank-you for being out there, and more importantly, for being right here.

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