Monday, March 17, 2014

The Recurrence Rut

When I taught, my classroom was full of interesting quotes on bright pieces of colored paper. I loved those unassuming bits of genius and felt like we all were better by being surrounded by them.

On the first day of school every year, there was one quote that I pointed out to my students. It was printed on a homemade, taped-together banner of yellow paper at the front of the room, which made it by far the biggest quote in the room.

I never attributed the quote to anyone and I always tried to gloss over the fact that I was the one who made it up. To be honest, I don't even really know why I thought that quote was the most important one of all, but I did.

Everything is what you make it. 

That was the quote. Not that quote-worthy, you think? Maybe not. But when I explained to my students on the first day that my class, like so many things in life, would likely end up being whatever each individual decided to make of it, I often felt glimmers of understanding in the audience.

Not that I think I can provide myself my own therapy right now (although I sure wish I could), but nevertheless, I decided to return to that quote tonight. I really just wanted to write another blog about how much it feels like torment to wait and feel cancer and spend so much time and energy being scared of an imminent demise. But I don't know that this space can carry the weight of another blog with that theme so I figured I'd try out a different route...perhaps, a slightly more positive (and hence, shorter) one.

It's strange to reach back in time and grasp on to something that I believed in so much then. It's odd to try to convince myself that if I thought something a decade ago, I could convince myself to think it again now. Maybe it's strange because now seems so very different than a decade ago.

But 24-year-old-me was right -- everything really is what you make it. And unfortunately, this very fact has me stuck in a terrible rut.

I know you know my rut; it's the I-think-I-feel-a-recurrence rut. It's a really shitty rut.

The problem is that when you think you feel cancer, you really do feel cancer. Any ounce of fatigue cannot be explained by the fact that I get up early and go to bed late, but rather, it's only explanation is cancer. A pain in my chest is not soreness from exercise or scar tissue from surgery, but rather, it's a deadly tumor. Any anything is precisely what I make it and in this rut where I feel cancer, anything is, indeed, just that.

I know that the MRI should have lifted me from this rut. I so wish that it had. But I feel what I feel and I need an answer that the MRI just did not provide. I need an answer because until I get one, everything is going to be what I make it. And for some reason, I can't seem to make anything in my mind except for evidence that my cancer has returned.

I have never been so frustrated. I have never been so disappointed in my own inability to be strong and positive, and in my own failure to have faith and hope. No contrived optimism, no quote, no song, no blog, no therapy session, no nothing has been able to lift me out of the recurrence rut in which I'm stuck. So on Wednesday afternoon, I'll head back into the Dana building for a CT scan of my chest. It took me almost two weeks to get the courage up to reach that point. But even at the bottom of my recurrence rut, I somehow scraped together enough guts to place a call to my doctor and to pick up the phone when "No Caller ID" rung back to book the appointment.

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