In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!

Graduation

Graduation
Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm Not Who You Knew...But I'm Still Me.

Through out this whole thing, from surgery to chemo, I have been just so afraid of the whole process.  Of going through all of this and wondering if it will work.  Fear of getting to the end and the end not being there.  I realized today though that I think, lately at least, I have been fearing these things more because I am actually afraid to acknowledge what is coming.  Moving out of the world of chemo and back into the real world.

I know that from the beginning that is all I have been begging for.  To have my life back   To be able to move forward.  I think, with my last chemo only a week away, I am battling the usual fears but also this new one.  I've been in something of a bubble since April.  98% of the people I have been around since April have been people from the cancer world.  My parents, my doctors, nurses and the other patients as well as the staff at the Cancer Center.  It's not that I haven't been around any other people but...it's different.

When I'm out in public, I hide behind my surgical mask and under scarves and hats.  I know that anyone looking at me knows I have cancer.  But I think, in order for those looks to not drive me crazy, I've just simply drawn myself behind that mask.  I have had 3 friends visit me, but they were either friends who have had to deal with cancer closely or someone who has been in my life for a very, very long time.  My cancer has taken over and made itself my identity.  And I don't think that is going to change when this all over

That in itself is pretty scary.  You go into all of this knowing who you are and realize somewhere along the way that you are no longer that person.  And that's ok I think...only it means starting over and rediscovering who you are to yourself and everyone around you.  I love my family and my friends but most of them I haven't seen since before this all started.  They don't know who I am anymore and I sometimes wonder if they don't know how to act around me anymore either.  And that, I think, is the biggest fear I am fighting now.  Whether the cancer comes back or not, I know how to fight that.  I know who I am in that world.  I am a warrior against this terrible thing and I am a victor no matter what.  I'm scared and terrified of the whole process.  I'm uncertain and sure at the same time.  I pray for strength and bravery through clenched teeth, tears and anger.  I refuse to give up even when my mind and body are screaming at me that there is nothing I can do.  I am determined that I will somehow be able to touch the world.  To reach out and help someone, somehow.  To make a difference.  But who am I to my family and friends?

Lets face it, most of our perceptions are physically based.  The people in my daily life right now are the ones who understand who I am.  Who I know, without a shadow of a doubt, know me for who I am.  One of the biggest things that has been pulling me to get through these treatments has been a planned trip to Virginia to see all of my friends out there.  People who have been a big part of my life until this all started.  By the time I get out there, it will have been a full year since I saw them.  Last time I saw them I had strength, health, an assurity of where my life was heading and a plan that we were all rooting for.  And, I had hair!  When I see them again, I'll still be a lot weaker than I was.  I won't be able to go without stopping.  I'm not even sure if I'll be able to drive again by then.  And...I won't look anything like what I did.  Yeah, a little thinner.  I've been blessed to not be wasting away.  But also, no hair.  It sounds petty, I know, but honestly I think it is the biggest battle for me in stepping out into the world again.  Everywhere I go, the missing hair is a screaming, neon sign that I have cancer.  That I am forever changed.  I'm afraid of how people will accept me.   I'm afraid of seeing that look of pity in their eyes.  Afraid of hearing the platitudes that sound good to them and are like nails on a chalk board to the person receiving them.  I'm afraid of friends unable to talk to me for whatever reason.  I've lost touch with so many people because of this, I'm afraid they won't know how to restart that friendship.  I'm afraid of loosing connections with family and friends because they are afraid.

So, as much as I am looking forward to this trip in January, I'm also terrified of it.  I'm not the person who was there last year.  I'm still learning the ins and outs of who I am now myself.  And I don't think I am the only person going through this who is dealing with this either.  This is just too big of a change for it to just be me.  I know other cancer patients are having to rediscover who they are...and the people around them have to learn who that new person is too and accept them.  Move on with them and rediscover their connection.

1 comment:

Ginny said...

My dear Catherine,

First, I am so proud of you - you are amazing! I wish I had words to be able to calm your fears and reassure your heart!

Perhaps it is simply because I have had cancer in my immediate family - but I see no huge changes in who you are. You have simply gone through trial by fire and come out of it with a refined and more beautiful soul and a whole new depth to your person. You were beautiful before - now you are breath-taking (with or without your hair and it will come back!)!

I think that, yes, there will be some looks of pity, but it will be from those who do not understand and I cannot see myself being one of them. I have only admiration for you and your hard-won victory!

As I read I was reminded of well known phrase, "This too shall pass." Yes, it will be difficult to reintegrate, but the hardest step is the first one. This is simply another part of the fight; another present to offer to Christ on the cross.