Courage /ˈkərij/ noun: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
Courage was (is) my One Word for 2016. Most days, I feel as though I’ve failed miserably at it. I think of courage as grand acts, not of everyday living.
There’s a scene in the movie Julie & Julia where Julie’s husband tells her to stop writing on her blog that he’s a saint. I kind of understand that sentiment. People tell me I’m inspirational or courageous or brave or they’re proud of me. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t feel any of those attributes. I’m just doing. I don’t feel any of those things just because I’m now living with cancer and cancer treatments.
I go to work because I need to. I have an obligation to my students, my principal, my department, my school, my school district…to myself. I struggle to put myself first on anything, but working is something I need to do. I was taught my whole life that hard work is rewarding, and teaching is hard work. It IS rewarding. If I can work, I feel like I should, not only because I feel obligated, but I love what I do. Teaching is my passion.
I don’t shy away from telling my students or coworkers if I’m having a really bad day, and if I am, I try really hard not to let it affect me too much. It’s no one fault if I don’t feel good. It is what it is. Should I take time off? Maybe. Am I going to do that? Probably not. Sometimes it’s more trouble to write sub plans than just to trudge through the day. If I feel really bad, I’d probably take the day, but I don’t feel bad enough to take off. I’m in pain from radiation, but I can deal with it. Or, I can deal with it right now. Maybe I won’t be able to deal with it in a few days, but today, I can. I wore a cotton t-shirt to work with black pants and my black casual suit jacket. It made a nice, if entertaining, outfit. My shirt is from Snorgtees with a black cat knocking over a coffee cup saying “I do what I want” (not an affiliate link…it’s where I bought my shirt…). I thought it was funny and a perfect description of Lucky…and my attitude sometimes, truth be told. A family friend told me I’ve needed this shirt since the day I was born.
I don’t disagree with him.
The thing is…I’m glad others find inspiration or courage or bravery in my ride on the cancer coaster. I hope my writing helps others dealing with cancer if for nothing else but because I’ve been honest about my journey…more honest than I probably should be, but as I’ve said before, cancer isn’t pretty. I don’t fit the Pretty Pink Narrative that breast cancer awareness promotes. Breast cancer is ugly. Cancer is ugly. Nothing about cancer treatment is fun. I guess attitude can be fun, but ultimately, getting stabbed in a port and having chemo drugs and targeted therapies drip into you for 5-6 hours isn’t fun. The side effects aren’t fun. Again, I guess you can make them fun, but the reason they exist isn’t fun. Sure, I could put out that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but those who know me in real life know that’s so far from my personality, it’s laughable.
I was supposed to have radiation today…what should have been radiation treatment 22. If I’d been able to stay on the radiation schedule I was originally on, today would be treatment 24. The burn is worse today. I woke up with new blisters. The skin under my arm is raw now, too. My entire left chest area and underarm area turned pink, red, and tan during my radiation break. So, I “earned” another radiation break. I asked my RO what difference 24 more hours is going to make when 72 hours haven’t made any difference. He told me he can’t predict anything, but it’s 24 more hours for my skin to heal or react. He also wrote me a script for a burn cream and told me to get some antiseptic wash to use with the burn cream.
I don’t want to miss more radiation. I’m so close to finishing and so sick of going. One more thing to trudge through on this coaster.
This part of the cancer coaster has been a protracted climb up a long hill. I’m hoping the drop is actually is nice slope and not a sudden drop that feels like you’re falling out of your seat. I hate roller coasters for that very reason.I’m just ready to have a stretch of track where the coaster is even and there’s no hills or valleys.
Right now, all I see is the climb in front of me, and it’s daunting.