I've been asked what it feels like to have cancer. In a way it feels like nothing. It feels the same as I have for my whole life. It's not painful. Sure, it's visible to people when I point it out to them, but much more noticeable is my belly, and the baby boy squirming and kicking inside me. Cancer doesn't let you know it's there, it doesn't wiggle or move around in a way you can feel. But it's there. It's gotten into my head (figuratively) and has cast a malicious and somewhat fearful cast over my life. It's this thing that is growing in me, that is part of me but at the same time foreign. It shows that my bodies defenses have failed, that somehow all the genetic failsafes were bypassed.
I remember just last semester learning about cancer in my biology class. We learned about oncogenes and the mechanisms in mitosis that stopped cancer from growing. About the mutations that had to happen in order for cancer to form. It seemed to me then that there's so many factors in place to prevent cancer that it's a wonder anyone ever gets it. The odds seemed so microscopically small. So many things have to fail for cancer to form. Those class sessions scared me. No one wants to hear about cancer. Or say it. Especially no one wants to have it.
So how does it feel? It feels the same. It feels completely different. It feels monumental. It feels unbelievable. It feels scary. It feels like changing.
I'm thinking about so many aspects of my life that I'm not satisfied with. I thought once I'd stick with my current job until retirement. I now have a very short fuse for some of the things that happen at work, including dealing with my co-workers. Life is too short to spend it in a toxic environment feeling unappreciated. It will soon be time to move on. Not sure what the next step will be, but Monday to Friday 8-5 sounds like a good start.
I am completely satisfied with other aspects of my life. I've said it before, and will continue to say it, I would go through my life before I met Nick repeatedly if the outcome remained the same. He gets me. Not all the time, but when it counts. He balances out my anxious and slightly neurotic tendencies. He's an amazing father. The side of Nick that I see most is one rarely seen by others. He's tender and funny and caring and sweet. He brings a structure into my life that I've never had before.
And then there's Autumn, and little man. Autumn doesn't understand the gravity of my diagnosis, she's too young to know that cancer is something scary. She calls my tumor "the circle in your neck." She continues to be her normal self, loud, funny, spacy, smart, defiant. Nothing has changed for her. It's good, it's normal and normal is great. Then this little guy who I love so much. I haven't even met h, seen his face, but it's because of him I'm not totally in a funk. He is also the reason my cancer was diagnosed. My midwife was solely responsible for all the testing and such, even ended up being the one to tell me "it's cancer." If it wasn't for this tiny little boy who knows when this would've been found. I think he's going to save my life. He definitely gives me something to live for and look forward to. His presence is easing my fear of doctors, because not only do I have to see my midwife at least monthly now I have three other doctors whose offices I'll be in rotation through frequently.
So, how does it feel? It feels good. It's very humbling but I'm so grateful for the shift in perspective cancer had given me. It is what it is (as much as I hate that phrase, it's a long version of "whatever") and it is truth.