So recently I’ve had a few friends ask me about my off days. What about them? We all have them! But they wanted to know about my off days with this crappy ass cancer journey. It actually made me think long and hard about how I want to approach this, and really, I wasn’t going to go here. Hold onto your pants as I really might let it go.
First, I HATE, and I mean HATE, appearing weak. Why? Because I’m a strong ass woman and dammit … that’s what you’re going to get. Not many people will ever get to see that truly weak side from me.
Second, I hate being vulnerable. Ugh. Even typing it makes my shoulders slump. You let down that shield and let people see you, the real you, then it’s a shit show. (My crap, not yours)
And let me tell you, people have asked me if I have gotten mad because I have cancer. NO. And that’s the truth. I’m not mad. I don’t have cancer, I will never own it, because I don’t want the crap. It’s here on a temporary basis and it’s leaving. I may not be mad, but let me tell you, I am frustrated.
I’m frustrated because there are days that I can’t even give my dog cold water. I have to go find my gloves, put them on, and THEN get the cold water. Because the chemicals from chemo give me neuropathy. It feels like I have frostbite on my fingers, on my toes, it’s even hitting my lips and ears. From the frostbite feeling, tingling begins. Pins and needles. I have to warm up my fingers quickly, or my toes, so the feeling goes away. I have at least 6 pairs of gloves hanging around, positioned so I can handle cold things.
Neuropathy also means that I can’t drink cold anything because it feels like my throat is closing. Do you know how it feels to drink lukewarm water all day? It sucks. I brush my teeth with hot water, and I can’t breathe in cold air because I will feel my throat reacting.
I am frustrated that there are nights I’m so damn tired after working all day, that I can’t even get up to wash a damn cup. Sounds lovely huh? No! It sucks! I just want to be able to function. So when my energy levels zooms up, I take advantage of it and clean like a mad woman. But only on the bottom floor of the house because I can’t go upstairs where the cat litter is. I miss being able to do me.
So here you go… want to know what makes me mad?
Sometimes people make comments like “What about your hair? Will you lose it?” Ummmmm maybe I will, but they tell me I shouldn’t. But why is that a big concern? At least I’m still alive. Hair is hair and it will grow back. Anyone who knows me, should know that I will shave the hair off my head and rock it out. Not a big deal to me, but it is to some that ask the question.
Or what about the biggie, “What about if you die? What about your kids?” Oh really? That’s something I need to think about NOW? Listen, the moment you have kids you should ask yourself that question. It’s called planning. Get a plan in place, because you don’t need cancer or another disease to be going down to start to answer that question. But here, let me answer this question for you all.
My kids will have me for a very long time. I will watch them grow, graduate school, fall in love, maybe get married, and maybe get a few grand kids. But ultimately, I will watch them live and be happy. Oh.. and watch them be strong ass women like their mother. So there. I’m fortunate that I can confidently say that.
So please, while I get everyone has their fears, and what I might be going through, or someone else might be going through, digs up some dark piece of fear… please thinking about what you’re asking before the words come out. I truly understand where it’s coming from, but just pause. I don’t need you to ask, since that shit started running through my head the moment they told me it was cancer.
Now… If you want to ask a question, how about this: Instead of asking me a question, reach out to my kids. Send them some good thoughts or a silly meme. Ask them how they are doing. Will they answer truthfully? I doubt it, they are like me. I made them, right? But anything will let them know you are thinking about them. Remember, this doesn’t just affect me, it affects my girls. As I typed that, I started to tear up.
They are my rocks, my hope, my reason. Three teenage girls: 14, 15 & 18, taking on the weight of the world. Taking on more responsibilities than ever, and dealing with some demons.
Haley, 18, slept on the couch for almost a month after I got out of the hospital because she was worried I would call for help and no one would hear me. She helps me with changing my colostomy bag because I can’t do it completely on my own. She helps me into bed when I’m feeling weak and pulls up the covers to make sure I’m warm.
Noelle, 15, has become my driver. When I can’t keep my eyes open, when I can’t see so well, she is my chauffeur. She checks on me through the day, while she is at school and I’m at work. When I was laying in the hospital, she came to me and asked me where I kept all my bills so she could make sure everything was taken care of. She kisses on my forehead before she trots off to bed.
Grace, 14, is my cuddle bug and my chef. When I get home, there are days I crawl into bed immediately. She always will make me some dinner, get me a drink, and make my favorite toast with peanut butter and bananas. Then there are nights she crawls into bed with me, lays next to me and we just hang. She might be Facetiming her boyfriend the entire time, but they are hanging with me.
My off day happens when I have to watch my kids have to pick up my slack. They have to help me into bed, or help me get changed. I want my kids to be kids. Not to pick up my load. But… I will let them. With them, I have learned to let them see me at weak and vulnerable times. I have shown them how to be hard, strong and fierce. Now it’s time for the softer side to be taught.
So there you go. I could go on about frustrations, or the questions I get, but I’m done. I appreciate that people want to know how I’m truly doing, but know when I say that I’m good, I’m good. There are more great moments and amazing days, then off days. I am grateful for every. single. damn. moment.