I don’t know what normal looks like anymore. I don’t know what normal feels like anymore. I know what normal is supposed to look like and feel like, but I don’t know if I can find normal again.
A and I put some normal back in our lives this week. We both started cooking again. It may not sound like much, but we’ve lived on take out, fast food, pizza, frozen food, and leftovers sent home with us by my in-laws after a family dinner since chemo began. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be eating healthy and all that. I know. I really do, but here’s the thing…when you work full time, when your husband works full time, when you have two kids involved in activities, when you have cancer, when you’re undergoing treatment after treatment and surgeries, something has to give. Or, it did for me. I know there are people out there who are able to do it all. I’m not them. I’m just not. Neither is A. So, what gave for us was cooking. If eating fast food and all that hinders my ability to deal with this cancer, well, I guess that’s on me. I don’t know what else to say.
As I sit here listening to conversations around me, I want to scream at the top of my lungs “I would love to have your normal!” I want to just gripe about my day because something asinine happened and not because I have a burn on my mastectomy scar that isn’t healing and keeps bleeding and I’m worried about infection. I’d like to vent about something silly like I’m hearing as I sit here outside my daughter’s dance class. And, go ahead, keep glaring at my son as he watches Super Hero Squad for the thousandth time. Say something to him. Watch how fast I’ll tell you that this is some of the most normal parts of his day because his mom is dealing with breast cancer and can’t do everything she used to do with him.
God, I crave normalcy. I crave not feeling like a failure. I crave not feeling like I’m the walking dead.
I saw a new commercial for Neulasta today and yelled at the TV screen “No one on strong chemo who needs Neulasta looks that healthy and happy!” But, maybe they are. Maybe they do look that healthy and happy. Maybe it’s just me who was unhappy and felt like death. I know there are some chemos that don’t make you look sick. I shouldn’t assume, but it’s a commercial, so I feel pretty confident in my assumption. I know it’s different in real life, and that’s something that gets me about the cancer narrative: the drugs and such directed at cancer patients show the best scenario. I’m not asking for the worst case scenario, but how about the realistic scenario? It’d be nice for something to seem realistic with cancer if it’s marketed towards cancer patients.
I’m obviously not at my best today. But, I am being honest and realistic. There are good days and bad days. I’m not having a bad day, per se. I don’t feel bad. My burns don’t hurt too badly today. I’m tired, but that’s because I woke up at 2:30 am with blood running down my tissue expander from the bleeding burn and had to deal with it. I guess my I Have no Cares to Give attitude has left the building tonight. Maybe I’ll find it again. Or maybe I’ll keep being mad.
I want to take my kids to the water park this summer. I don’t want to have surgeries this summer because I’m 38 with breast cancer. I want to go on a vacation with A where I don’t have to arrange it around infusions, tests, and surgeries because I’m 38 and have breast cancer. I just want some normal. I crave it as much as I crave chocolate, a Dr. Pepper, and seeing my children grow up.
I crave my normal life, and I don’t have it, and no matter how much A and I purposely do things we term normal, nothing will make things the way they used to be, and that’s what I want.
My life before breast cancer.