No, not that C word. The scary one. Yes, I mean Cancer.
Yes, the big scary C word has become part of the daily conversation around here.
Most of you know by now that I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. After months of unexplainable, and unresolvable stomach pains, I finally was checked into the hospital for a week, tested like a lab rat, and diagnosed with a b-cell lymphoma. I had a tumor blocking 90% of my colon (the width, not the entire colon) and two grapefruit size tumors, one on each ovary. I was blessed with a team of incredibly intelligent doctors at Evanston Hospital who had the foresight to stop and think before cutting me open and performing an intense surgery that would not have completely solved the problem. I would’ve lost a foot of my colon and potentially both ovaries and still needed chemo. So a big shout out to Dr. Kirschner and Dr. Linn of Evanston Hospital for saving my organs!
So where did we go from here? Chemo of course. My tumors, in true fashion, have slightly aggressive tendencies so I needed a more aggressive treatment. I got a week long, 24 hour a day, infusion of chemo via my port and a little portable pump. Apparently the fatigue is greater, as is the risk of infection being around people, so I was on work leave until the end of January.
Let’s be real. Cancer really sucks. There’s nothing fun about the amount of pain I was in, the utter exhaustion I felt after the first treatment kicked in, the 10 different kinds of pills I had to take in addition to treatment, the odd mouth pain, and the fact that I lost my lovely hair in the first few weeks. I hate to be slowed down in life so this really tested me. I hate that I wasn’t able to work because this year was supposed to be epic. I was supposed to really kick ass this year. My first year of teaching, my learning year. I was so proud of myself for getting a teaching job right out of school and I barely got my feet wet before having to leave for five months. I didn’t even get to know my students and by the time I got back, I had a whole new group. I feel cheated. On top of that, I had never not worked (especially that long) since I was at least 15 years old. Maybe younger, in a less official capacity. Now I had unlimited free time and no idea what to do with it.
But here’s what I learned in the first few weeks. People sure will rally for you in your time of need. In a matter of a few short weeks I learned just how much love people can give when you’re hit with something this serious. I had coworkers send care packages, people drive me to appointments, friends offer to sit with me during chemo, friends parents send home fully prepared meals, and more. And the endless amounts of positivity coming from everyone is what made this process just a little bit more manageable.
It’s hard to ask for help. For people like me who are fiercely independent and thrive on being the one to take care of others, its extremely hard. We don’t know how to, we don’t want to be a burden, and we don’t want anyone to feel bad for us because we pride ourselves on being strong and unshakeable. Sometimes you just have to force it upon us so we can swallow our pride whole. I’m thankful for people in my life who won’t take no for an answer and have shared their love in so many ways. I’m blessed to so many people who supported me and wanted to see me get better.
So here’s to kicking cancer’s ass this year. Join me in this journey will you?
Til next time,