Dear Diary, You know when something shocks the hell out of you but you’re actually not surprised by it? Like the first time I found out I was pregnant, and I turned the test over and saw those two little pink lines and screamed, “oh my God!“ I was so shocked… But I wasn’t surprised. A part of me knew it, the pregnancy test laying on my bedside table was simple confirmation of what my body (or maybe my soul) already knew to be true. I was definitely effing pregnant. This feels like that. I’m shocked. But I effing knew it.
Dear Diary, I’m having an existential crisis today. Am I a mom or am I a cancer patient? I guess I’m both but that feels shitty.
Dear Diary, I’m feeling grateful for cancer today. That’s weird weird weird, I know. I am though. I have zero shits to give and for the first time in maybe my entire life, IDGAF how anyone else feels about my opinion. I AM MY PRIORITY. I honestly don’t know if I have ever been my own priority before. Not fully. But this feels GOOD! I like myself, I like this feeling that I am important, that my opinion is the only one that matters. This is… a silver lining. And finding a silver lining feels really really good. Empowering, in fact! Yes, I’ll take that.
Dear Diary, So, I’m totally fine. I’m fine. I am positive that it’s going to be fine. I know there’s a road ahead, a path, a journey, I get that. But ultimately, I’m fine. So I’ll be fine right now because everything is fine. Also, I was given some “sorry you have cancer, here’s some stuff I think someone going through chemo might need” type-gifts and that should feel nice but it feels really shitty. I don’t even know yet that I’ll be doing chemo, I have yet to find out my proposed treatment plan. So it feels like “Hey Cancer girl! Here’s some stuff!” I know that’s not what they meant but…. stop treating me like I have cancer. I’m still Shawna. Thank you for thinking of my predicament but really… a cute purse would have been nice and probably infinitely more useful than the hopeful heart uplifting cancer stories booklet you gave me. Hahahahaha I told you, zero fucks to give…
Dear Diary, At first I was touched.
There were so many words of encouragement. So much love. So many “I’m so sorry”s.
Then all of a sudden and without any warning, there were too many.
The I’m sorries just kept coming. Long after I had cried my tears and decided it would be okay, I would be okay, the I’m sorries kept coming like waves, as if my news was everyone’s news to be digested and felt and worried over. And each time a new I’m sorry wave crashed I felt my resolve eroding like beachrock.
Cue the doubt and self reproach.
Who am I to think it’s fine?? I don’t even have all the info yet, maybe it’s NOT FINE. I’m probably being naive! I probably need to be sad still!!
And why do I feel resentful?! I POSTED MY RESULTS ONLINE. Of course my news is everyone’s news. OF COURSE people care!! Do I want people to not care??
What is wrong with me? I should feel grateful for having so many in my corner. I should NOT feel overextended, these I’m sorries are SUPPORT and they deserve my attention, appreciation, & amusing, authentic responses.
It all felt so familiar too. Like, I have felt this particular feeling of simultaneous love and fear and overwhelm and resentment and vulnerability and exposure before…
And then it hit me.
This is the exact concoction of feelings I had when receiving unsolicited advice as a stressed out new mom.
This is my baby! Why is that family member posting pictures for all her Facebook friends to see without my consent?? She didn’t even ask.
This is my baby!!! Why are friends from high school messaging me love and advice and commiseration?? It’s literally been years.
This is MY BABY. Should I delete everything? Make everything private? Hunker down and protect my baby (myself) from curious eyes and commentary?
Except baby = cancer 😂😂😂
Okay that is hilarious. The only difference is the emotion behind the sentiment people send. Celebration of life vs fear of death.
My reaction is the same: I’m freaking capable, let me have my experience.
But i’ve been here before. I’ve learned. I’m friggin wise now.
The truth is I’m walking this alone. No one can advise me on how to transition from regular person to Cancer Patient just like no one could have prepared me for the transition into Motherhood
But these I’m sorries? Are love. These I’m sorries are support. These I’m sorries are hopeful and curious and whole-hearted attempts at being helpful. Just like when I was a new mom. People are trying to walk beside me as I navigate a massive life change.
But now I know it’s not because I’m incapable.
No one thinks that.
That’s my own fear talking.
Nope, people are trying to walk beside me as I move into the unknown because I’m loved.
And unlike new motherhood, this time I’m strong as hell. There may be a learning curve but I KNOW what I’m capable of. I’m vulnerable? Sure. All of life is vulnerability. But I’m also flexible, so I can bend with the curl of the unknown waves coming my way. And I have people to pull me out if I go under. 🌊
Dear Diary, Sometimes I fear spiral into the what ifs, and MY GOD that is the scariest part about this, but then I remember OH YEAH, everything is actually fine. It’s early. It’s treatable, curable. It’s not mine, it’s just a little invader who finds my boobs rather comfy. Can’t blame it, these are some good boobs. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up and replicate? But this is my body, my house, and I’m paying attention now. So I’ll just clean up a little – and higher the best professional house cleaners available to really get in there and scrub – and that’s that. There. Back to calm.
Dear Diary, I have a cold that won’t freaking go away and never mind that I had a full lab work up, an echocardiogram, a port placement (which was a surgery under general anesthesia, who knew!), and a bone scan over 3 of the 7 days I’ve been sick, I want this cold to let up! Come on body, none of that stuff is too terribly hard to get over! I have stuff to do……………………… This feels metaphorical. As if I’ve walked face first into the point and I’m still missing it. Problem is I don’t yet know what all this is trying to teach me.
Dear Diary, It is unfathomable to me that someone close to me can ask me to consider their feelings about my having cancer OVER my feelings about actually having the cancer. I am so hurt. So floored. Does cancer make people insane? Or does cancer point out the issues that have always been?
Dear Diary, I am so scared. I have no idea what to think or do or say, I am walking into the complete unknown and no one can help me. I will face chemotherapy and it will be my experience.
Dear Diary, OK I’m glad I got that out of my system. I’m effing stoked to start chemo! I can’t wait to get treatment underway & I am so freaking thrilled – like giddy – that I get to undergo chemo and get better. What a boon. Is it boone? I think it’s boon. I could google but I don’t want to.
Dear Diary, I have received SO MANY very kind gifts from friends. It’s so kind and heart warming and I feel so supported and loved.
Dear Diary, CHEMOOOOOOOOOO
Dear Diary, Day 1 wasn’t so bad. I was tired and nauseated but not miserable. I mostly slept.
Dear Diary, Okay, I’m having crazy muscle twitches all over my body, even deep muscles. I feel electrified and again GIDDY that I have this life saving drug coursing through my veins. I am a lucky human!!
Dear Diary, fun game – am I having diarrhea because of the chemotherapy, or am I having diarrhea because I was afraid of getting constipated so was popping stool softeners like candy?
Dear Diary, I have energy!! I have eneeeergyyyyy!!! I am incredibly impressed with how well my body is handling this. I am very very lucky,
Dear Diary, I have the most incredible husband on the planet. He is prioritizing my rest as much as I am and I feel so loved, so supported. I wish I had a more extensive vocabulary so I could have more words to describe how amazing he is. Like that word amazing – I say that all the time but he is literally amazing me.
Dear Diary, day 1 of being back at full time stay at home mom while John goes back to work and I AM SO TIRED. I feel like I’m brand new at this and I guess in a way I am. I also probably shouldn’t have done a pool trip AND made banana bread all on day one.
Dear Diary, I am thrilled with how well my body is handling this chemo. It’s supposed to be “the big hairy one” according to my oncologist. I am giddy… excited… proud?? I can’t put my finger on it but for the first time ever in my life I love my body. And ifgaf what it looks like or if it’s pleasing to others. I love my body for serving me. I love my body for her strength. Not for how she looks but for her amazing resilience. Go off body, yous a bad bitch 🔥
Dear Diary, I forgot about you. I’m supposed to be copying down my thoughts. Catharsis. A witness. Someone to talk to. It’s just that I’m over it. I’ve been at this about 8 weeks now, I’m overrrr it. I’m ready for health and ease. And peace. I don’t want to talk cancer. I want to talk health.
Dear Diary, I met a friend on Instagram who’s just ahead of me in treatment for the same kind of cancer. She rang the bell for her last chemo treatment weeks ago (idk if the bell is actually a thing or if that’s a metaphor), she had her surgery, and now she’s getting her boobs reconstructed. It’s all so hopeful and exciting. She’s almost done! I’m almost her! One foot in front of the other.
Dear Diary, I’m graduating to the next part of chemo now. I’m finished with “the big hairy one” forever! So why am I nervous? Because I have no idea how my body is going to handle what’s on deck. I love you body. Thank you for putting in this work. Hope this next part’s not too hard on you…
Dear Diary, I don’t feel baaaaad. But I don’t feel good. Sustained yuck.
Dear Diary, interesting discovery – days when I make a point to think about all the good I am experiencing in this process are better than the days when I have a lot of grumbles and complaints. Chicken or egg?
Dear Diary, John is doing EVERYTHING always. He is a saint. I feel a little guilty. How do I let go of that?