Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Dog Cancer

The day to day living with cancer is an interesting thing. While I was in chemo and “rocking the bald” I could not really hide from it. It looked me in the mirror everyday, and people asked me dumb- ass and/ or curious questions about it all the time. I had no choice but to pay attention to the physical reality and side effects of chemo.
Now, I have hair and I do not have the shiny skinned, bug eyed and bloated look that chemo so graciously creates. So for the general public I am, to quote Tim “the old lady with funny boobs” or for the most part a “normal”. Even though being bald and bloated and sick was awful it gave me a look that allowed me to be the cancer victim. Now, people still say things to me that seem odd, but they are different from the chemo/ cancer comments and questions. The other day at a restaurant it went like this “I like your hair”
I said “oh, this hair-do happened by accident” (what the hell else could I say to this stranger in a Vermont restaurant “restroom”on a Wednesday morning?) She said “I have had lots of haircuts I got….blah blah blah.” By this point I had tuned out wondering whether to bring cancer into the conversation…
I left the bathroom feeling kind of dejected. I am not special anymore. I am just the same as everyone else. Strange I know, because being “normal” is all I ever wanted during treatment. But now I know. I know that I will never be ‘normal’ again; I will never not have cancer looming over my head. I may get cancer again. I may never have gotten rid of it. I have a better chance of having more cancer than anyone who has no had it before. At this stage I am not sure if I will ever forget that. Not many minutes go by without thinking about cancer, talking about cancer or doing something about ….. cancer.

While you may think I sound like I am depressed by this you are incorrect. Getting cancer for me was not depressing, it was annoying and hard and scary and stuff but not depressing. I got through the treatment with a kick ass attitude and nothing will change that. But now cancer just won’t ever go away….Won’t go away like having a dog on a permanent leash attached to you won’t go away. Some days dragging this stupid barking mutt around is harder than other days. Some days, it is like having a little puppy- a lighter but still yappy and annoying.
Last weekend in Vermont it was a puppy. Today it is a big, but kind of quiet dog.
I just hope sometime soon I can drop the damned thing off at the pound.


TigereyeSal said...

Fantastic post, Noelle.

Tracy said...

Re: "I am not special anymore."

You are absolutely entitled to feel this way - and I say this not out of lack of empathy, but those of us who have not personally experienced cancer have little idea what the true physical, emotional, and psychological impact of cancer can do to a person. But one thing I do know is this: you are special, very, very special. You always have been, and you always will be...even if you do have bad dog daze...

T xo

Anonymous said...

I can empathize ... and agree with you Noelle.

There is a certain "sick/weird" comfort about being in treatment. When you are, you and the doctors are actively fighting the disease.

Being out of treatment can leave you with a weird sense of loss. Yesterday I finished 5.5 weeks of daily radiation (after 4 months of dose-dense chemo), driving in (alone no less) every day from Burlington to Juravinski. Parking, gas etc., YIKES and I thought chemo and a mastectomy were a kick in the pocket book! People asked me if radiation was draining (on some days it was), but being treated every day was more draining. Physically being there, talking to the care team every day, the oncologist & nurse every week ... and so on ... that was draining!

Now I am "done". Now I get NEW stupid questions, like "so now what?" "What tests will they do", "how will you know if the cancer returns?" I don't have to answer those for you, I'm sure you know what I mean about that being so annoying Noelle.

My hair is growing in now too, a few weeks behind you. It looks nothing like it used to (but ironically looks a great deal like yours ~ colour and texture!) and I feel nothing like I used to. The day I suspected I had cancer, I knew to prepare myself for the diagnosis ... that I would have to find a "new normal now". And in my wisdom, I am doing my best not to look back and compare myself to the woman I used to be. I was challenged and rose above of it and in some strange way, have become rather empowered by this big dog chained to my leg.

We all have our dogs, and you are not alone ... some days they are tame, most days they are loud and yappy !!! I look forward to the day that the chain goes a little slack.