Ugh, yet another reminder that my brain is filled to the brim with cancer ca-ca. I mentioned a few examples of the ca-ca recently, and here I am once again, consumed with it. The latest: while browsing on etsy, I came across a “store” called ETC Chest. My first thought was, hmmm, wonder what kind of breast cancer stuff they have in that “store.” Guess what kind of breast cancer stuff they have? NONE.
ETC Chest stands for “Embroidered Treasures and Crafts” Chests. It has nothing, nada, zilch to do with the human chest, flat or reconstructed.
Thank you, Gary Larson.
This little exercise in idiocracy (I think I just made that word up; I like it. No, wait there was a movie by that title. Never mind.) reminds me of how pervasive the cancer fatigue can be. Lots has been written about how a cancer diagnosis wrecks your life, and even when the cancer is vanquished and you end up with the best-case outcome, it’s always there. The fear, the weariness, the unseen scars.
My blog friend Lauren writes an incredibly eloquent blog called After Five Years. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re curious about what it’s like to live with cancer. She recently wrote a post about going back for a mammogram and it so perfectly captured the fear, the anxiety, the all-around shittiness of living with cancer. I held my breath throughout the entire post, then was gasping and sputtering and although it was only 9:30 a.m., felt like I needed a nap.
Lauren is a lot farther along in the “cancer journey” than I am, and in fact I can’t even comprehend getting a mammogram right now. Of course, having no breasts, it would be a physical impossibility, but still. I’m not yet to the point of having the routine scans that every cancer survivor endures at regular intervals. The stress and anxiety of knowing that there’s a (hopfully) comprehensive sweep through your body to sniff out errant cells is all-encompassing. I can imagine people all over the world watching the calendar, knowing that an appointment is upcoming. The anxiety of waiting for the appointment time to approach is nothing compared to the feelings that course through one’s body during the actual scans (or blood tests, as the case may be), and even that is a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer terror of waiting for the results. Talk about PTSD. It’s a wonder each and every cancer survivor isn’t a raging alcoholic. Or seriously addicted to Twizzlers. I can see myself going down either path, maybe both. And I’m just getting started on this “cancer journey.”
Life goes on for survivors. That’s a beautiful thing, and it becomes all the more precious when a serious illness rudely interrupts your life. But it’s not easy. Cancer is a sneaky beast. It invades your body, and even when it’s caught early, small, and contained, it has a unique ability to rattle your cage, big time.