Tag Archives: Health

The Weariness of Cancer

October 6, 2004

Hi, Kat:

You must still have been in your “stampede mode” when you wrote me this morning. Hence the “howdy” salutation!

Let me begin by saying that I am having a bad day…emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. I am grateful I am able to tell you so freely. Thank you for that, but take that into consideration when you read the rest of my e-mail.

Wow, you really can get through a book quickly! “Lovely Bones” was a difficult read, but I found it interesting with the author’s perspective of death, living, the beyond, and those left behind. I have a different book for you when you return – “The Red Tent.” I think I told you about that one as well. It is totally different then the two you have recently read.

I don’t want you to feel pressured to tell me anything about the sexual incident, but I felt you opened the door by asking me to define the difference between harassment and molestation. I know you don’t ask any question for no reason. I knew there was something behind it, but I respect your comfortableness in sharing and will wait for you take the next step. But, don’t be surprised if I ask if you are ready because I know sometimes you need some “nudging.” ha ha.

As far as the weekend goes, you only need to bring yourself, a change of clothes, and an open mind. Boy, I bet I got you wondering even more now! Good…sometimes I like to leave you guessing.

I know that you wish I wouldn’t have seen the list, but I also feel so honored and privileged that you chose me to share it with. It helps me understand you a little more and it shows me why God brought us together. I will leave it up to you on what you want to do with the list from this point on. Just don’t lose faith in the process of healing that you are going through. Trust in God and our friendship. Those three things are strengths you can use as you move forward in your journey of healing.

I wish I could help you “unload” every night from stuff hat happens and you can start the next day fresh and new. I would like to do that with you when you get back from vacation, but again I leave it up to you. I do think that a lot of your current reactions to your parents and Alex is based not only on the current encounters, but a lot of stuff you have carried for a long time. That is why I think it is important for you to talk about it and process it. See the whole picture and not just the dark, ugly, bad part of it. If I can do that for you, great. I know how helpful it was for me to do that for myself.

You know me…I’m not always serious although this past week may not seem that way. Part of it, I believe, is my medication and the other part is just trying to get through the day. No, it wouldn’t be interesting to watch me get emotional. I usually do that in the privacy of my home, but it is getting harder to keep it in until I get home. The reason I tell you all this is because you interact with me so much on many levels that I felt you needed to know what may happen. You didn’t have the opportunity two years ago when I went through cancer (be grateful), but you will see me now.

Sometimes, it’s not a pretty sight and I try hard to protect you from that, but I also know I can’t. I don’t want you to get hurt because of some random comment or behavior I make. So promise me that if you see something out of character for me, call me on it. I care about you too much to not want to know if I have done something wrong or to hurt you. Please promise me that.

Well, enough of all that. So until I talk to you again via e-mail, IM, or the phone…have a good night or day (depending on when you read this). Know these things: God loves you, you are in my thoughts and prayers daily, and you matter.

Until later,

Greta

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Can We Talk at Lunch?

I heard what I didn’t want to hear. Greta had cancer. Again. I didn’t know her through her first bout with uterine cancer, but I had heard the stories. I knew it was going to be difficult. It was the last thing I wanted to hear that day. When she answered me, I panicked and ran, afraid to hear any more. My instinct was to pull back from our budding friendship to protect myself. I couldn’t go through that kind of heartache and lose a friend I had just found. It was better to cut myself off now before things went any further.

For a few days, I ignored Greta. Didn’t call her, didn’t e-mail her, and only uttered the barest of words needed to communicate at work. I confided in Alex about Greta’s cancer. I was afraid of losing her. Alex didn’t seem to concerned about it. He told me that everything would be okay. But I wasn’t so sure about that. I thought why get involved with someone if they’re only going to leave me?

Ding-dong! My e-mail blinked in front of me at my work desk. Sighing, I saw that it was from Greta.  Can we talk at lunch? Minutes passed by as I gazed at her question. It’s not that I didn’t want to be friends with her. I did. She was funny, sarcastic, loving, tender, gentle, but headstrong, determined, and opinionated. I had never met anyone quite like her. The problem was I didn’t want to go through the pain of losing her. My fear was that she was going to die from the cancer. I had no idea how bad it was or wasn’t, what the treatment was, and so forth. All I had was my late night Web MD searches on the Internet. By the way, not a good thing to do when you’re already paranoid and upset about a diagnosis. It gives you the bleakest picture possible. With trepidation, I hit the Enter button on the keyboard. OK.

Now what do I do? I had agreed to meet her for lunch, but my stomach was in knots. Again, I wanted to stick my head in the sand, and refuse to hear or see reality. Around noon, I wandered downstairs to her office, trudging along as though I were headed to my execution. Melodramatic? Probably. But you have someone you cared about and prayed for to come into your life and then be told they have cancer. All you hear are the bells tolling doom.

I sat at the little white wooden table in her office, our lunches heating up in the microwave. The air was redolent of spicy tomato sauce and melting cheese. Spaghetti leftovers. I stared at the floor, avoiding eye contact. She heaved a sigh and sat down heavily beside me.

“Kat…I know you’re upset. Talk to me. Let’s work it out together. What’s going on with you? Please talk to me. I know you’ve been avoiding me.” Greta gently touched my shoulder. I wondered if she could feel my trembles as I tried not to cry.

In a subdued, small voice, I replied, “I’m afraid of losing you. I’m afraid that you’re going to die. We just became friends and I don’t want to lose you!” A single tear slipped down my cheek. I was embarrassed by my lack of control of my emotions. I hastily swiped the tear away.

“Kat, can you look at me please?” I lifted my aqua eyes to meet her baby blue ones. Her hand was heavy on my shoulder, gently caressing, “I’m not going anywhere. I promise. I’m here with you forever. My cancer isn’t that bad. Yes, it’s cancer, but it’s minimal and easily treated. You don’t need to worry.”

“Are you sure, Greta?”

“Yes, I’m sure. The doctor is calling Stage 1 uterine cancer, but she said it’s more like a half stage. It’s not even a full stage one. We caught it very early.”
She brushed another tear away from my cheek.

“What do they do for treatment? Do you have to have chemotherapy?” I asked, feeling steadier by the moment with her answers. I snuffled and snorted into a tissue.

“No. The treatment is hormone therapy. All I have to do is take some pills every day.” Greta smiled and stood up to get our lukewarm lunches from the microwave.

“Does it hurt? What’s the cancer like? Will the treatment make you sick?” The better I felt, the more curious I became. My mother called me the “why” baby when I was little because I asked so many questions. It hadn’t changed much as an adult.

“Yes, it hurts. I get really bad cramps and back pain. I also bleed a lot and it’s very heavy. The hormones do have side effects, but not like chemo. It’ll make me really tired and have less energy, possibly cause hot flashes and headaches. I’ve been through this before. It’ll be okay, I promise.” Greta set the plates down on the table. She grinned, took hold of my hand, and squeezed reassuringly. “Don’t worry, Kat. I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me now.”


Forgiveness

 

 

E-mail from Kat to Greta:

Resentment – “To feel again,” clings to the past, relives it over and over, picks each fresh scab so that the wound never heals.

Forgiveness – to release, to hurl away, to free yourself.

I think I’m stuck in the past of ungrace…unforgiveness. I hold grudges and anger against the things that have been done to me. I haven’t forgiven them, or myself. Which totally applies to something you [Greta] said…processing and going through it to find healing and grace (paraphrased). I can’t let go until I’m willing to forgive. But how do I find the strength to forgive? To offer grace? It seems I could spend a year crying out my forgiveness, and it will still linger.

“The first and often the only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness…When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”

Just a thought to ponder.

Kat

Response E-mail from Greta to Kat:

Kat,

You’re right that forgiveness plays a part in the process of healing, but I don’t think it is the first thing you need to do. You can’t force  yourself to forgive others who hurt you.

Maybe the first step is to acknowledge the hurt and talk about it and how it affected you and still affects you.

Forgiveness will come, but in its time…and maybe that isn’t now for you.

And if I haven’t told you lately, I enjoy our time together whether we discuss something serious, silly, or work related.

Greta

 

 


My Unborn Dream

I cracked an eye and looked at the clock. 1:00pm. Time to drag myself out of bed to get cleaned up for the doctor visit. A sigh so deep pushed up from my weary depths. I felt wrung out like a dirty dishrag. The angry pain still coursed through my lower back and legs making walking difficult. I washed myself the best I could, trembling from exhaustion. I noticed I was bleeding even stronger now, clumps of waste left behind. I picked myself up and locked the fragile emotions deep. I had to get through this appointment. I drove myself to the office which was mercifully only 10 minutes away. I didn’t think I would make it much farther. I dreaded this appointment for I knew what was coming, what the doctor would say, and there was nothing I could do about it. Maybe it wasn’t what I suspected. Maybe I was just fearing the worst, but in reality everything would be okay. I kept my fingers crossed as I headed in to see Dr. Lee.

At least the chairs are comfortable as I settled into the mauve-cushioned seat. What is it with doctor’s office and using the color mauve? Was it listed on the approved soothing colors brochure? It reminded me of rotten watermelons, the bright pink faded, mushy, and washed out grey with detritus. I wished that Alex were here to support me. I couldn’t believe he chose to go to work instead. It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, I supposed. I brushed my golden blonde bangs out of my eyes, lost in thought. Alex and I had married four years ago. It was one of the best moments of my life. I still couldn’t figure what happened, what was the pivotal moment where everything began to change. Where did I start losing myself and becoming somebody I wasn’t?

Long ago, I gave up my voice, instead choosing to hide in the background of my fun-loving husband. His personality was so vibrant and domineering, it’s no wonder that people chose to be near him. Even I used to be enamored with his zest for life, wanting to constantly bathe in his radiance. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I realized that I had faded from view. I was no longer the center of his world, but pushed along the sidelines as others became more interesting. I was often referred to as Alex’s wife instead of by my own name, my own person. My “friends” weren’t even really my friends anymore. They were Alex’s friends who embraced me only because I was associated with him. I initially had accepted this as part of the natural course of our marriage, but over time realized that I was tired of taking second place to everything and everyone else.

“Kat?” The nurse interrupted my thoughts, calling me back to the present. Nervously and feeling very alone, I trudged to the back and into the room with the nurse.

“You can wait here. Dr. Lee will be with you in a moment.” The nurse hung the clipboard outside the wall and gently closed the door. I shivered in the cold sterile room as I sat on the hard exam table. Moments passed as I picked at my fingers, chewing on the hangnails – a bad habit that I had forced Alex to give up. Just as I thought they had forgotten about me, Dr. Lee walked in.

“Hello, Kat…I hear you’re not feeling well. Can you tell me what’s going on?” Dr. Lee asked in her comforting, motherly voice. Her black-haired, five foot frame bustled efficiently around me, checking my blood pressure and temperature. I dispassionately began telling her of my morning, the severe bleeding, and the excruciating pain. Just talking exhausted me. I was ghostly pale and clammy, staring with a faraway gaze.

“Kat, we’re going to draw some blood to do a pregnancy test as well as some other tests to find out what’s going on, okay? I need you to come with me to the nurses’ station. Can you do that?” Dr. Lee offered a smooth hand to me and helped me down off the table. I followed Dr. Lee to the nurses’ station and eased myself into a chair. As the mousey brown-haired nurse drew my blood, she smiled sympathetically. I could see the pity in her eyes. I looked away as the nurse removed the needle, not wanting to meet her gaze again. I just wanted to get it all over with and go back home to bed.

“It’ll be just a few minutes for the results,” the nurse stated as she walked away with vials of my blood. I stared at the floor letting my blonde curls fall forward to cover my face, willing the minutes to pass quickly. I mindlessly scraped my leather flip-flops across the carpet. All too soon, the nurse was back with Dr. Lee.

“Kat, I have the results of your blood test. You were pregnant and are having a miscarriage.” Dr. Lee rattled off some other results such as only a few days old, nothing to worry about, this is normal, but I didn’t hear much of what she said. All I could think was that I lost it. I lost my baby. The nurse and Dr. Lee looked at each other, concern clear on their faces. “Kat? Do you understand what I’m saying?” asked Dr. Lee. “Do you have someone who is here with you? That can drive you home? You need to rest.”

I shook my head and mumbled, “I drove myself. I’m alone. I’ll manage.” I thanked Dr. Lee, shook her hand limply and slowly drifted to my car, numb and confused. So much for so little. How was I going to tell Alex? Would he even care? I walked in the door of our small double-wide trailer, not remembering how I got home. I stripped my clothes and climbed into the welcoming bed, burying myself under the turquoise sheets. Tears began to slip from my hazel eyes as the reality of what Dr. Lee said hit me. My chin trembled, my body quaked, I sobbed, grieving for my lost little child.


Wicked “Aunt Flo” Comes to Visit

 

Groaning, I rolled over. My lower back spasmed demonically as I laid in bed. I had been years since I had the flu and I was hoping I didn’t have it now. Alex,  laid beside me, snoring like a freight train. A 10-piece band could march and play in the bedroom and he still wouldn’t budge. I stumbled to the bathroom, hoping not to trip on one of the cats. That was the last thing I needed at the moment. Glancing at the clock on my way, I realized that it was 6:30 in the morning. I had a whole hour yet before I needed to be out of bed and headed to work. I doubled over in agony and held my stomach as it felt like someone was twisting a fiery hot poker in it. What the hell was going on? I lowered herself onto the toilet and wearily held my head in my hands. Maybe I ate something bad last night and now I was paying for it this morning. I racked my brain trying to come up with something that tasted “not quite right” yesterday, but nothing came to mind. And if it was food, how come Alex wasn’t sick?

My belly and back throbbed angrily. I wiped and came away with a handful of blood. Oh great, I’ve got my period and it’s going to be a bitch this time! I knew I could never predict when, where, or how strong or weak it was going to be each time. Heck, there were times I would go months without getting it and then other times I would have it for two weeks straight. I missed being on birth control which made my menstrual cycle as predictable as clockwork. Another contraction surged through my lower back as my stomach clenched violently. I shuddered, sweating through the fierce pain. A thought started winding its way through my mind, but I skittered away from it. It’s not possible. Is it? Dare I think it? I didn’t want to, but it kept pushing insistently against my consciousness.

We had tried for two years now to have a baby, but no such luck. Only recently had we started seeing a fertility specialist who had put me on Clomid to try to increase the chances of me becoming pregnant. That was only two weeks ago. Could it have worked so fast? Or not, I thought as I tried to clean up the mess I was making. Groggily, I realized this was more than just wicked “Aunt Flo” making her normal appearance. Finally, I attempted to stand, holding the wall for support. My legs trembled and felt heavy like blocks of cement were attached to my feet. I could barely move them. Fear started to settle in my belly, which only added to the turmoil, as I suspected what might truly be happening. Shuffling back to the bedroom, clutching my nightgown against my stomach, I curled back in bed, praying I was wrong and it was just bad menstrual cramps that would be over soon. An hour went by and the alarm went off. Alex mumbled and rolled over, slapping the alarm off. He went to get up when he realized that I was still in bed next to him.

“Hon? Kat? It’s 7:30am. You need to get up for work!” Alex nudged me playfully, trying to get me to get my butt in gear. “Kat?” Sighing, Alex gave up and trudged into the school bus yellow bathroom. He really needed to repaint it. It glowed from under the doors and was the last color he wanted to see as he cracked open his eyes in the mornings. My attempt at sponge painting the walls had gone awry. Well, it’s more like Alex went awry since he got tired of doing the sponge painting and decided to paint it all on at once. I had wanted to go to bed instead of finishing the project. He was getting tired of cleaning up after me. Alex thought I never seemed interested in him anymore. That I was always distracted and moody. He heard me mumbling in the bedroom, but ignored it as he continued getting ready for work.