Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anonymous Strength

Today I didn't talk to a single doctor. I was supposed to go in for some sort of heart test (a "MUGA"?) to prepare for chemo but my insurance company would only cover an echocardiogram, and that got rescheduled for tomorrow. (Dr. Bunnell said the "Echo" test was fine.) So Brian and I went out to breakfast instead. It was wonderful.

It was also strange, as I realized for the first time since my diagnosis that doctor appointments have come to be the events that shape my day. When Brian and I got back from breakfast, we walked into a quiet house, since the kids were at school. And we laughed at the fact that we had no idea what to do.

Brian had to get some school work done, so I do what I always do when I feel task-less. I cleaned. Of course, Brian kept telling me to sit down, and baiting me with the fact that I will only get my drains out tomorrow if the output in them is small (activity makes it go up). So I stopped cleaning. When I was done.

After a short nap, I ended up convincing Brian to go for a quick shopping trip at an outdoor shopping center because it is a gloriously beautiful day. I also needed to get out of the house. I had started to think bad thoughts and needed to clear my mind.

(This is how twisted my mind can get -- I started to wonder if maybe Dr. Bunnell was not that interested in my lymph nodes because in fact they are not the big issue. Since the HER2 protein was, again, his focus in yesterday's meeting, I started to think bad thoughts about that pesky protein. Urgh.)

When we were shopping, I had another yucky emotion -- jealousy. As I walked by women, I started to think of how jealous I was of their cancer-less boobs. I started to feel sorry for myself.

On the way home from shopping I came clean with Brian about my dark thoughts of earlier (not the jealousy part since he'd understandably scoff at that). I told him it's scary to me that I feel like my life is riding on one drug. It scares me that just a few years ago, before that drug, I may not have made it. Brian replied that if he had been of draft age during Vietnam, he may not have made it too. But I was born when I was born and they have the drug, and I'll be fine. If only my mind had an ounce of his clarity.

After that, as Brian returned to his school work, I returned to the second thing I do when I feel task-less -- Facebook. There, I found this "Other" category that held a message that had been sent to me on September 1. It was from an anonymous reader who told me she had been following my blog. Her family is dealing with what I can only describe as a struggle far and beyond my own, mainly because it involves an infant.

I feel terrible that I only now found this message, as it was one that should have been returned immediately. But I also can't believe that I found it today. Because it was exactly what I needed to slap myself across the face to remind myself of how lucky I am. To remind myself that people out there have more courage and strength and resolve than I could ever dream of, and here I am feeling sorry for myself because they actually have a drug to help me!?! What, do I need a plethora of options of life-saving drugs? Only yesterday I was complaining about options. I was starting to sound like a brat.

I know that the anonymous reader meant absolutely nothing but kindness with her message. I am certain she never, ever intended it as a wake-up call to me to appreciate all of the good news and good fortune that I have been given. But I know that today, her message was just that. I needed to be reminded that scattered all over this planet are people that could teach me a thing or two about hope and strength and miracles. And remind me that pessimism and jealousy are a complete waste of time.


  1. Love you, T! You are the least jealous and bratty person I know. With that said, you are allowed a moment of weakness... It never takes you long to realize, you always pick yourself up with grace and dignity (minus the runny nose and red eyes...) and are stronger and more determined than before.

    Your posts are so poignant and honest. You are a true role model. Thank you. xo

  2. As an Oncology Nurse....that was a beautiful entry... I can not relate what you are going through but only care and listen to you. It was so good to see you today. xo Ris

  3. Tara - you are my hero. Plain and simple.

  4. Do not feel that because someone else has a heavy burden that you might not feel you could carry, that your burden or trial is any less than how you are experiencing it. Your experience is valid. Your feelings are valid - as feelings, not as facts. A little trick I had during a dark time of hauling my burden, was to allow myself a certain amount of time each day to wallow, cry, rage, whatever. Then I got on with whatever the baby step was that I needed to take that day.

    You are doing so well handling all that is coming at you. As that anonymous note sender was your "wake up call" (as you say), remember that you are someone else's as well.