My fingers have ripples on the nail bed. My oncologist told me it was possible my nails would change, and before I exiled myself from reading about my type of breast cancer on the Internet (Googling…worst idea I ever had…should’ve listened to all my doctors, family, and friends), I read it was possible my nails would fall out. Thankfully, they haven’t fallen out, but I have a ripple on the nail bed for each treatment. They resemble rings on a tree stump.
This out-of-nowhere diagnosis caused ripples, physical, mental, and emotional for me, my husband, and our families. We have a new normal. Scheduling anything revolves around my treatment schedule. There are days when I just can’t anything, so someone else has to pick up my slack. More often than not, it’s my mother and my mother in law. A, my husband, has a demanding job and commutes an hour to and from work. I know there are days when he feels beaten down by my diagnosis because he feels like he should be able to pick up all the slack, but he can’t.
Here’s somethings I’ve learned on this journey: no one should do this on their own. I know there are people who do, and I’m in awe of them. I cannot fathom enduring this without my support system. I’ve learned no one person can pick up all the slack. I hate asking for help. A hates asking for help. But, we’ve had to suck it up and ask for help. When I can’t do anything and A can’t get home for over an hour, one of us has to suck it up and text one of our parents, or another family member, or a friend. I went awhile trying my damnedest to be the “model” chemo patient who never lets it show how treatment is affecting them, but then I had my third treatment and got bitch slapped (there’s no other way to put it) by side effect after side effect along with an infection and laryngitis to top it off. It wasn’t enough that I felt terrible, was fatigued, and had a horrible skin side effect, but one of the skin spots became infected, badly, and I couldn’t talk. That round of treatment taught me if help was available, I was an idiot if I didn’t reach out and accept it.
The day before we released for winter break, a coworker asked me how I was doing, and I broke down. It was one of those days where I felt sad and scared. My coworker let me talk, and when I finished, I apologized for becoming so upset. He said something that struck me. He told me I had no reason to apologize, and he was honored to carry some of my burden for me. He told me there were others at work who wanted to help me, to carry some of my burden, and when I was ready, I needed to reach out.
It’s so hard for me to reach out. I don’t want to be perceived as weak or needy or a burden. That’s been one of my fears since my diagnosis. I would become the burden no one wants. It’s been hard, and humbling, to show weakness.
My life has changed dramatically. I’ve changed…I don’t know if it’s a dramatic change, but I’m not the same person I was just six months ago. Every thing in my life has changed because of my diagnosis. The ripples show…physically, emotionally, and mentally. I wonder what my life is going to look like once the ripples stop (I’m not going to say if they stop…I’m choosing to be positive for right now).