Sunday, November 22, 2015

It Isn't Enough

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I remember desperately thinking if I can just survive this, that'll be enough.

I prayed fervently, just let me survive. Please don't let me die.

The doctors, even in the early days told me it wouldn't be likely this cancer would kill me. We were going to hit it with everything possible. Treatment would be hard. But I'd survive it all.

And I was so glad. Because that was going to be enough.

And now, 4 1/2 years later, I realized a hard truth just yesterday. It isn't enough.

Now, don't misunderstand me. This is NOT me saying I'm not grateful to be here. Or that I'd rather NOT be here.

But just simply surviving my cancer? It wasn't enough.

Today. In this moment. I want so much more than surviving.

I want no pain.
I want no migraines.
I want no fatigue.
I want real boobs, not silicone appendages.
I want to be healthy.
I want to be energetic.

I thought, when this all started, that just living would be enough. I thought, like in the movies, my whole perspective of the world would be changed. Colors would be brighter. Little things would bother me less. I'd find a sense of peace, that can only be obtained by going to hell and being lucky enough to return.

It turns out, that sometimes it just isn't enough.
Colors look the same.
I still hate sitting in traffic or hearing people chew with their mouths open.
And peace? Is still just an idea in my head that has yet to come to fruition.

I am scared to put this in print. Because maybe, just maybe, if I try hard enough it will be enough. And I'll look past the chronic pain and the chronic fatigue. I'll be able to look past the tears or another missed event because I don't feel good. I'll be able to look past everything and find some sort of peace.

Somehow I've convinced myself I just need to try harder and suddenly things will get better.

I'm not sure how or why, but it's what is always in the back of my head nagging at me.

And yet, I'm also not sure what I would have done differently then. Or now.

Knowing what I know now, I feel confident in my treatment choices. I feel confident in my doctors then and now. During active treatment I worked with my oncologist and also an integrative doctor and did some alternative therapies too. I tried to take care of my whole body during treatment.

I was convinced, if I just did everything I was supposed to, I'd come out on the other side and not only would I be totally fine, I'd be better than ever. I mean, getting the cancer out of my body could only mean good things, right?

Until that moment that it doesn't. As side effects linger, as my body has been changed forever, as I am struggling with the what next, I've realized that surviving isn't enough.

And I've realized that I should have seen this coming a mile away.

I longed for things to be better before cancer, so why wouldn't I want it to be better now? It's silly to think that having cancer would suddenly mean I don't have any wishes, or hopes, or want things to be better.

Isn't that human nature? Aren't we all dreamers? Don't we all picture a future that is better?

So once again, I feel like I'm facing a cancer narrative that is nowhere near my reality.

I sit here, metaphorically scratching my head, wondering why the most popular cancer narratives out there seem to be so far from my reality.

I'm sure these narratives are built to be inspiring, and yet, they give me false hopes and make me wonder what's wrong with me.

Slowly, I'm learning, the problem isn't me, it's the narratives thrust upon us. I'll keep saying this until I'm blue in the face ... I want others to read this and know they aren't alone if they are feeling the same way.

There is not one way to do cancer. There is not one way to do post-cancer.

It's okay for surviving to not be enough. It's okay to want more.

It's okay to mourn the life it feels that cancer took away from us. And it's okay to want to feel good after treatment. It's okay to feel that surviving isn't enough.

I'll keep saying it. And I want you, and myself, to keep listening to it. Read it over and over until you start to believe it. Because it's true.

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