I'm not even going to apologize for the language. Fuck cancer. Fuck fuck fuck.
I'm in a Facebook group for women who were diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. It's been a really helpful, really supportive group.
A few minutes ago, I learned a member of the group died yesterday. I didn't know her personally, just from the group, from reading her posts and us commenting on the same posts. She had triple negative breast cancer.
She finished treatment recently. She had a lot of pain. She saw her doctors. They found more cancer. Her cancer had metastasized, spread to her bones. Within six weeks, she was gone.
I'm sitting at my desk, a pile of overdue paperwork waiting on me, a schedule of sessions that's gone out the window now, because I'm in no condition to see clients right now. I'm sitting at my desk, and I'm sobbing.
I'm crying for her family, for her small children, her husband, her parents and siblings and friends, and all of the people who knew her joy and her wisdom personally and through the magic of the internet.
I'm crying in terror and hatred of this evil beast called cancer, which has taken so many people I love, which threatens all of us, which threatens me.
I'm crying for me. I'm crying because I cannot imagine the pain her family is going through, and yet I imagine it every day. I'm crying because I know the fear she must have felt when she received the news, because it's the fear that lives in my gut and springs up when I wake in the middle of the night and when I walk into my oncologist's office for yet another appointment and when I hold Finn close and tell him I will love him always and forever until the end days. I am crying because I am terrified that her fate could be my fate, and damitall, I want to live! I need to live.
Her story is not the same as mine. I know that. Her situation is not the same as mine. I know that. I am doing everything I can do to reduce the chances my cancer will come back. I know that. But my cancer has a 50% chance of recurring in the first two years. I know that. I am taking the oral chemo, which showed a reduction in recurrence of around 15% for triple negative breast cancer. I know that, too.
And then my office phone range because the parent for my forgotten family session arrived, and I had to quick pull myself together, wash my face, and then walk through the school with my bright red and puffy face.
The distraction was helpful though. Who knows how long it'd have taken me to calm down and recover if I hadn't been forced to in a hurry?
But cancer still sucks. Even worse than the fear of chemo harming the baby (although I knew the studies showed it was safe), even worse than the side effects of treatment: the hair loss, the pain, the exhaustion, the stomach issues, even worse than having to stop working before I was ready, even worse than the financial cost, even worse than the chemo brain, worse than all of that is the constant--and rational--fear that the cancer could return. And if the cancer returns, it could mean death. I'm just not ready for that. I don't intend to be ready for that for another fifty years or so. It's not that I'm scared of death, not at all. I'm scared of not living. What a place to be trapped.
I'm not proofreading. Excuse any errors you find.