Thursday, December 18, 2008

cancer update

Give or take a couple of months, I spent pretty much all of this past year being treated for breast cancer. I had surgery, many months of chemo, and 33 days of radiation.

As it was going on, I didn't find it particularly hard.

When I was first diagnosed with invasive cancer I thought, like anyone in that situation will think, "why me?". Then I remembered others I've known, or others I've known of, like the moms of my students. And I thought, "why them?".

No one deserves it, or earns it. Cancer is not payback for anything that you did or did not do. It just happens. And when it happens, you deal with it.

I realized that I kept waking up every morning, feeling pretty good. It sounds cliche, but cancer does teach you to appreciate life better. I was happy, happy to be alive.

Now it's been about a month since I finished treatments. I am exercising again. Chemo is rough on the body, and in some ways I know I will never be the same. But I can do a lot, and I enjoy being able to do it.

Something else is also happening. Some of those feelings that I fought off during the months of chemo are coming to the surface.

My way of dealing with the rough treatments, and the endless hospital visits, was trying to have as much of a normal life as possible, and trying to enjoy the time as much as I could.

One doctor I met in late March wrote in his notes that I was in 'no distress'. True. I wasn't.

I was teaching classes spring and fall quarters, and I taught summer school in July. Just as I normally would.

I joked with the hospital workers. I made a point of being a really easy going patient.

One time in the summer when my friend Babs came with me to the chemo center we got a talking to from one of the nurses for being too loud. Babs has some good stories. It's true we were the only ones laughing, but laughing seemed perfectly normal to me.

Now, though. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I am tired in some weird way I've never been tired before. Not sleepy tired, and not exhausted tired.

Tired as in needing a break from being tough, maybe.


Barbro said...

Jag laeser din blogg varje dag. Den aer saa jordnaera.
Jag avskyr dessa bokstaever!! Byter till engelska: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, and is now fully recovered?! It's like being a recovering alcoholic, you keep recovering, but you are never quite there. I even had to forego my yearly visit to Finland (finlandssvensk). My son died two years ago and from then on I have "learned to live with it" - same with cancer scares; you never get over it, but you learn to live with it. Take care.
And have a realxing Christmas.

Lotta K said...

Barbro, I am so sorry for your loss. You are right, 'living with' is the key. I guess as humans we always want the security of stability... But the truth is that life changes. On the other hand, in some ways we stay the same too, right? I mean just because we have cancer cancer patients are not all that we are. Like that commercial says, "I have cancer but cancer does not have me." It's about finding a new balance, I guess. Thanks for commenting, Barbro. I am glad you read my blog! Happy recovering, and happy holidays!


cecilia said...

You have been through a lot, and you are very right: why anyone? It doesn't feel fair.
I wish you a very good, relaxed, beautiful 2009 - and every year after that too!!!

Lot's of love from SF!

Anonymous said...

i think "weary" is a better word than tired, and i think you are weary from having held a demon at bay for almost a year. It was almost as if you were throwing your weight against a steel-door to keep the bad guy out. The demon wasn't cancer; it was the terrifying thought that if you weren't vigilant, cancer would take over your life.

Now that you know it didn't, you can relax ... and surrender to the exhaustion of having fought the good fight (pardon the cliche) on many levels. And won.

You might give yourself a pat on the back as well. :) babsie

Lotta K said...

Hi Cecilia! Thank you! All the same to you, and your pretty family!

Babs, you are right about the door, and the terrifying thought. But I don't know if there is a difference between cancer taking over my life, or my body? My head starts spinning every time I try to figure it out. It feels as if it's the same thing. Then again to a science minded doctor it might not be the same thing.

Anonymous said...

the body, you have won. that's science. the life, you have won as well. that's all you. bk

Lotta K said...

hm. lk

Petra H said...

Åh Lotta, jag tycker absolut att du har rätt att vara trött på att vara stark. Jag är imponerad över hur positivt du har sett på din sjukdom och situation under det här tuffa året och du förtjänar verkligen att slappna av nu.
GOD JUL och hoppas att 2009 blir ett super år!!
Stor kram!
PS Jag är så glad att du tog dig tid att träffa O och mig i vintras - jag tänker ofta på vår improviserade lilla picknickfika vid fontänen på Stanford!

Lotta K said...

Tack Petra. Det är så underligt när man går igenom något stort, och reaktionen kommer efteråt. Aldrig att man lär sig...

Visst var det kul att träffas! Hoppas ni får en riktigt bra jul, feliz navidad till O! hahaha jag såg just ert pepparkakshus, min favorit är de fyra m&m-en!!

Ing said...

Det är väl alldeles fantastiskt, att du kunde vara så stark när du verkligen behövde vara det. Nu, när du fått något slags lugn i ditt liv igen, är det nog skönt att du tillåter dig att inte vara det. En stor julkram till dig, Lotta, var rädd om dig. Och vad härligt att du är ute och hikar igen!

Lotta K said...

Tack Ing! Kram tillbaka! Jag läste dina nyårslöften och blev inspirerad. 2009, best year yet. !!