Thursday, July 22, 2010


My friend Valeri at posted an Opera video called Crazy Sexy Cancer and it inspired me to write a post about how having Cancer has effected my life. So, here it goes.

Being diagnosed with cancer is exactly like you think its going to be. And completely different. You want to laugh, cause, OF COURSE this would happen. You want to cry, it is cancer after all. You think that there is no way it can be as bad as all the rumors, or even as bad as they tell you its going to be. But in the back of your head you know it will be bad. You lose all hope that you will ever have a normal life, and you think you have complete confidence that if you make it out the other side, you never want that normal life again.

Many people have told me that I am strong. I'm not sure I agree. But then, I don't know what it means to be strong. I feel like I dealt with my life as it was given to me, what other choice did I have? And there you go.

This time last year I was half way through my 6 month treatment. It was such a mile stone to think that I had less treatments left to do, than I had already endured. It was the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, it seems like 2 life times ago. I have seen, and done, and been through, and seen others go through, and wanted to do so many other things in the last 12 months, that I almost forget sometimes that it was such a reality, a very short time ago.

One thing I have figured out is that I am much more bitter about having cancer now than I was 16 months ago. Then, I think the end was always the completion of treatment. Then it would be over. Two years til kids? Whatever. Two years of scans and appointments, followed by and undetermined number of appointments and scans? Who cares! But now that I am done with the heavy stuff all those appointments and scans seem to be preventing me from doing anything. I spend a lot of empty brain space thinking about when my next scan is, and then I end up needing a root canal (maybe) because of what chemo did to my teeth. And I am on lifetime medication for my thyroid for the same reason. And why? Why me? What did I do to deserve all this trouble? And why should I have to pay for it? I had to loose so many hours of work for treatment and now I have to pay for a bunch of health problems when I thought the treatment was supposed to make me better. And every time they find something else wrong, and give me a pill someone says, "well, at least you will feel better now!" Really, cause I didn't know I was feeling bad! But I know there is nothing I can do about it. And I don't get all "woe is me" very often. But I can't help it some times. And I know that is normal.

Every now and again I get a small taste of something I went through a lot last summer, and it makes me scared. A little chest pain, the smell of the swamp cooler, the taste of the tooth paste after eating cold cereal. It doesn't take much, and I am right back there. I get a little weak and have to remember that I am not there anymore. I am better now.

I kind of hate thinking of myself as a "survivor". To me a survivor battles something for years or lifetimes and makes it out with all their hair. Thats not me. I "battled" for less than a year. As it stands now, it will barely be a lost summer by the time I'm 35. And my nieces and nephews? Only 3 of them have a chance of remembering anything about it. And how do I tell my kids? And does it matter? Only a hand-full of pictures will show that I didn't have any hair. maybe it was just a fashion statement.

The thing that I think is most distracting right now is the kids thing. No trying for kids for 2 years. Ok, fine. The problem is that I feel like that should be hard. Like I should be pining for kids. And counting down the days till we can have them. But I'm not. In fact, some times I wonder if I really want them. For a number of reason I feel like I would be a horrible mom. And my anxiety makes me physically afraid of ever becoming one. When I think about it, I wonder if this is Heavenly Father's way of telling me that it is not time for me to become a mom. That it is ok to wait. Cause if I wanted kids more than anything right now, I would be in hell. I have several friends who are going through just that, and I can't even imagine it.

I will probably spend my whole life trying to find a suitable way to explain how I felt at diagnosis and during treatment. I may never truly convey how it was. And that is just fine. Everyone who knew me went through it to a different degree, and I will never know how that is either (hopefully). I am more than happy to answer questions for friends and family. But I don't like to dwell on it if I don't have too. I'm sure you understand.


  1. that was such a good post. And nice to hear because you never really said anything like that so I always thought- "why was it not as hard for Lena?" I didn't understand why it wasn't hard for you, but now I see you just didn't talk about it. I talked to my aunt who had breast cancer and she just met her 5 yr mark, and she said- she STILL goes through phases. I also went through an anger stage and probably will again. Last night I found out that i can't get pregnant for atleast 6 months- and I was hoping to this winter. and my stupid scans keep wanting to lighth up with my lymphnodes. And so it's never a clear plan or answer- it's so annoying. Why not for 2 years? and are you only getting scans for 2 years? I'm getting them for 5.

  2. Lena, this was so thought provoking, real and wonderful in so many ways. I got tears in my eyes. Because, and yes I am a cheese ball. But I do love you. And I pray for you. I worried that you never talked about it much. I have never been through what you have. I admire you because sometimes being strong is just getting through every day even if you are angry, scared, sad, depressed or delirious. That is what true courage is. Thank you so much for writing this post

  3. Very good post Lena. You know... I think that I sort of understand the baby thing. I do want to have a baby and I'm sad I lost one, but I in no way shape or form want to be trying for that right now in my life. I feel a little bit of relief that I wont be popping out kids every 2 years like all of my mormon friends. That I wont have to worry about chasing a toddler through the store while nursing the little one (or however it goes). That I can just enjoy the one child that I have without the daunting "when will you have more" question everyone wants to know. It's a big relief to me that it is not a part of my life right now, and I'm okay with that. Things might change. I didn't really want to have kids for a long time, but when I did it was hard.

    I find myself becoming more bitter too. I just want to have a normal life and I wonder if I ever will again. It's hard. I admire you a lot for hanging in there and dealing with whatever you need to.

  4. Love you, Lena. You are strong. Just because you are you.