This is normal for me. For a few days post-chemo, I’m down. I’m really down. Part of it is because I don’t feel well. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t feel terrible. I really don’t. But, I don’t feel great. The taste in my mouth came back quickly this time. I feel run down. My nose runs. My eyes water. I’m fatigued. I just don’t feel good.
But, it’s the holidays, and it’s not my kids’ fault I have breast cancer. So, on Sunday, A and I took them to see Santa. AJ knows exactly what he wants: a robot. He loves to build and to create. So, a robot it is for our little man. We know he’ll love it.
S is a little withdrawn this year. She doesn’t know what she wants. All she could tell Santa was she wants something blue. Our girl loves the color blue, and she loves Boo, The World’s Cutest Dog. So, her Daddy went to Nordstrom and bought her the oversized Boo we saw a few weeks ago. I found her a blue scarf we’ll wrap around Boo, and it’ll be her Santa gift. I think she’ll love it. I hope she loves it. I hope it brings her some comfort and peace. S is a child that internalizes her struggles, much like her daddy. When she’s ready, she’ll open up to us. We know she sees and hears more about my illness than we want her to, but at the same time, we don’t want to hide things from her and her brother. It’s a delicate balance of answering her questions and protecting her.
I spent a good chunk of yesterday in bed. I ventured out to the mall for a few hours to find something else for S. AJ has been so easy to buy for this year, but not S. So, I went to wander. The mall was its usual pre-Christmas chaos. I found a few more things for S, and a couple of hours was all I could handle. When I got home, I went back to bed and drifted. A says I napped, but I don’t believe him. The blues hit me hard last night. I cried some last night. A did what he does and held me until the tears stopped. Then, he sent me to bed with Harry Potter on the TV because he knows I sleep better with noise in the background and something soothing.
This morning, I woke up around 1:30 am and spent the rest of the early morning tossing and turning. I couldn’t go back to sleep because I couldn’t stop the horrible merry-go-round “You have breast cancer…you have breast cancer…you have an aggressive breast cancer.” I hate when I can’t get the merry-go-round to stop. I know I have breast cancer. I know HER2 is aggressive. I know it…I KNOW it. I don’t need to hear it in my own head.
A woke up around 8 am, and we talked. He asked why I’m struggling so much this time when Dr. O was so positive. He knows, though, why I’m struggling so much. I don’t feel good. I’m scared. I’m a pessimist. So much out there says HER2 doesn’t stay in remission. It comes back. It responds to treatment, but it doesn’t stay away. And, that’s my fear. This morning, I asked A, “What if this is my last Christmas? My last New Year’s?” And, he responded, “You don’t know that it is, you don’t know that it’s not, and if it is, how do you know it’ll be the fault of this cancer? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in fear and depressed?”
Trust A to hit the nail on the head.
I spent a lot of the last several years worried about melanoma because I’m at high risk for it. I fretted over every spot. I ran to the dermatologist anytime I found something new or thought something had changed. I never gave breast cancer more than a passing thought because no one in my family has ever had it. Yet, I find a lump in my breast, and what did I do? I ignored it. For months. And I worried about it. But I didn’t run to the doctor about it until my gut told me something was wrong. I lived in fear for months. Fear of the unknown. Fear of it being cancer. And, it is cancer. Just not the one I feared…it’s one I never knew to fear.
I’ve been thinking today about the line from Better: “Don’t die before you die. We’re all terminal cases.” I don’t want to die before I die, but right now, I feel like I’m dying, which is ironic since we’re all dying simply by living. I can’t find my optimism. I can’t find my happiness.
A asked me to do one thing today: Make cookies.
I always make cookies before Christmas. I like making cookies. I like baking. I like cooking. No one is more surprised than me that I like cooking and baking and am fairly good at it. By now, I’ve usually made several dozen chocolate chip, butter cookies, chocolate crackle cookies, peppermint rice crispy treats with chocolate chips, and pumpkin spice cookies. This year, until today, I’d made…none. I hadn’t felt like it. And, truthfully, I didn’t feel like it today either, but I made some. I made several dozen chocolate chip cookies with S acting as sous chef. And, I made the dough for the butter cookies. We’ll do those tonight or tomorrow. The kids look forward to making those, and while my not-so-itty-bitty-cookie-decorating-committee will not win any cookie decorating contests, they love making them and decorating them.
A tells me that forcing me to do little things like baking cookies is forcing me to live. I guess he’s right.
I just want to get past this case of the blues and find my happy again.