Just. Not today.
You will hear the words "brave" and "inspiring" a lot during your treatment. You likely said them yourself when it was a friend or other loved one going through the same fight.
"You're so brave."
"You inspire me."
"You are amazing."
"You're so strong."
It's all a part of that support I've mentioned before. That immense support that can sometimes seem overwhelming and so unexpected.
You focus on recovering from surgery. You do your best to take care of yourself during chemotherapy. You learn all that you can about radiation. Each day, you take that next step forward.
And, if you're like me, you often don't feel all that strong.
You're more amazed at the time that's gone by than at yourself.
Inspiration? Bah. Brave?
Well, I sometimes feel brave to be seen in public with my cancer-altered body. Does that count?
If you're like me, there will be days when you just can't.
You can't be the brave, strong, amazing warrior that your world expects. You feel incapable of positivity. At this point - my point - you've finished chemotherapy but chemotherapy hasn't finished you.
It just can't quit you.
Many side effects have blissfully gone away and your body is sprouting hair once again and often in places you really wish it wouldn't. Nose bleeds have ended and coughing is lessened. But ... fatigue continues and even worsens. Your toenails have yet to fall off and, what's this? Why are they itching?
What seems a minor inconvenience quickly invades your life. Itch.
Itch! Itch! Itchity Itch!
Still managing to ignore it? Well, let's add blisters. Many, watery, itching, burning blisters.
Jesus - Are these the elephant man's toes?
What. Is. Happening!?
Ask your doctor. Perhaps, like me, you'll find out that it is "just part of the process."
On that day, my friend, you'll not feel brave, or amazing, or inspiring. You'll feel like hitting something. Hard. Starting with the person who said, "just part of the process."
You'll feel like crying a lot. Except that, well, crying comes with a runny, stuffy nose and you'd rather not.
You might want to talk to someone. To vent. But ... this isn't brave. Or inspiring. You don't want to burden your loved ones when there's nothing they can do and little they can really understand.
I remember this. I remember seeing this is my friend Robin's eyes but not knowing what it was exactly. I'd ask how she's doing and she'd smile and say fine. I knew it wasn't fine. But I also didn't know what to say or what I could do for her. Looking back, I wish I would have simply said, "I wish there was something I could do for you." But I digress.
Hopefully, like me, you've found a support group - whether it is live or online - it's important to have a group of people to whom you can vent. Share worries. Share experiences. And sometimes they are your best lifeline. A group of people who are going through the same or similar treatment are invaluable. They know what you're going through. If they're not able to give suggestions for coping, they understand completely and sometimes that is the most needed thing in your life. True understanding. Acceptance of your bad days.
The days you say ... not today. There's no bravery, no inspiration.
Just. Not today.
I'd love to end this by saying that tomorrow is another day. That all will be well. That the sun will come out or some shit like that. But I'm waiting for my blistery toes to start driving me insane once again. I'm realizing that the holiday weekend is nearly over and I've neither visited friends or family nor gotten loads of work done.
I've done ... really nothing. Actually, wait, I've managed not to draw blood scratching.
Right now, that's pretty fucking impressive.
Screw brave and inspiring.