Aaaaand I’m skipping town...
I’m on the next plane out of here and heading South – South America to be exact.
I’m not ignoring my problems, but I had a life before lymphoma and I’ll continue to have a life during and after. And there’s no way I’m letting cancer ruin my plans. Is it wise to head off to a foreign country when you have a tumor displacing your trachea making it difficult to breath? Maybe not. Is it wise to run off with your husband on a relaxing vacation before chemo tries to control the next 6-9 months of our lives? Absolutely. (Although my mom may disagree).
Am I running away from Cancer? No. In fact, it’s coming with me! Grab a beach towel, Cancer, we’re going on vacation!
Now, am I avoiding Cancer? Absolutely. At least for the next week.
On Monday I met with the oncologist at the Karmanos Cancer Institute where I’ll receive my treatment. If this didn’t feel real before, it definitely feels real now. I’ve been telling everyone that I don’t feel like a cancer patient. Well, after that visit, I feel like a cancer patient.
I’d imagine that cancer patients go through similar stages of grief as anyone who’s experienced the loss of a loved one. In a way, we’ve experienced loss too: loss of control over our bodies, loss of freedom, loss of time. Stage one in dealing – Denial.
It’s easy to experience denial when cancer has to compete with the holidays, your job, family visits, supportive friends, etc. There’s not a lot of time to think about cancer when the Thanksgiving parade is marching down your street. Because who wants to think about cancer when you can think about the holidays? Not this girl.
But denial can’t last forever. Eventually the parade ends; your family goes home and your friends go back to their lives. Eventually the distractions stop long enough for the revelation to sink back in: I have cancer.
And even if you’re great at living in denial and pushing those thoughts out of your head, a meeting with the oncologist will rip those thoughts from that dark forgotten place in your mind and throw reality back in your face.
The reality is, the stage of my cancer is still unknown. Next week, I go in for a battery of tests including a bone marrow biopsyto see if the cancer has spread from my lymph nodes to my blood. Right now, I know I have at least stage 2 lymphoma since the cancer is in my neck and chest. The reality is, further tests could determine if the cancer is below my chest, raising my stage to 3 and/or in my blood, bringing it to the highest stage, stage 4. Hello Reality, Goodbye Denial.
You know what else you can’t deny? Losing your fucking hair. Because then not only will I feel like a cancer patient, but look like one too. And there’s a chance I may become infertile. Talk about reality. If I haven’t thought about having kids in the future, I better start thinking about it now. Actually, I should have started thinking about it yesterday. Because once chemo starts, it’s too late to start thinking about freezing your eggs. Not to mention the nausea, vomiting, and fatigue that inevitably comes from chemotherapy.
The reality is, you can’t deny the risks that cancer brings with it.
Denial, my friend, where did you go?
But I have one week before these tests. I have one week before this cancer is officially diagnosed and staged. I have one week to jet off to Cartagena, Colombia to watch two friends get married. One week to celebrate love and warmth. To enjoy the sand, sun, and rum. I have one week to spend with my husband pretending I don’t have cancer.
In one week, I’ll come back to reality. Until then, Hello Denial.
Cancer, I hope you enjoy your vacation. I know I will.