Oddly enough, just after I got the best news of my life ("cancer's gone!"), I have this sort of dark post to make. Not sure why, but I'll go with it because I know that no matter how I'm feeling, it's just part of the process and it's ok. (Look at me! A therapist would be proud of that statement.)
Ever since I got my "all clear" results, I've been sort of holed up in my house, enduring the chemo. I have not been partying like you might imagine. You know how, when you're sick, everything is just harder to handle? Little decisions suddenly become difficult to make. "Do I want a glass of water or not? I CANNOT decide.... hmmm... Well, maybe a small glass. No, no. Definitely not." Tiny hurdles can almost feel insurmountable. "Oh my GOSH, are you KIDDING ME? I forgot to run the dishwasher last night? HOLY CRAP. Now I have to run it this MORNING." So being a little under the weather (chemo) has sort of stunted my ability to think about what has happened in the last few days.
I think I am just really backlogged, trying to process all these emotions. I haven't even touched the "YOU'RE IN COMPLETE REMISSION" yet, and all that that means.
Here are the ridiculous thoughts I'm thinking, all at the same time.
-Part of me still wonders if the cancer is REALLY, TRULY gone. I mean, this is my life we're talking about, I really don't want them to make any mistakes here. If there are still a few bad cells hidden in there somewhere, they BETTER be sure they've found them and are going to get rid of them.
-I never can completely forget the fact that, statistically, this sort of cancer sometimes tends to come back. Even though my recovery has been remarkable and I really seem to be beating all the odds and statistics, my vivid imagination does not serve me well here. I envision scenarios 6 months out, 1 year out, 3 years out, where my doctor has to tell me that bad news, "It's back, Shelly. 8 more months of chemo." I then do the math to figure out how old my kids will be by that age, and what I will need to tell them so they can process the terrible news of mommy being sick. (Torturous, I know! And stupid!) Usually I am able to squash this line of thinking before it gets too far developed, but not always. I think that's just a natural part of coming to grips with all this, but it still aint fun.
-I wonder why I'm not more overjoyed about hearing the words "You're in complete remission". Is it because I've spent so many months getting used to the idea that I was "sick", and that now it's hard to just instantaneously erase that? Is it because I don't really believe it could be true? Is it because I feel like it's potentially only temporary? Is it because, now that I feel like the real danger is more or less gone, I can finally feel sad and angry and scared?
-Amidst all this, I know that tons of people would KILL to be in my shoes. From stage 4 in December to ALL GONE in June. That's insane! I'm so lucky I should get some sense slapped into me. (quick! someone slap me!)
I'M SORRY, I KNOW, THIS IS ALL SO NEGATIVE! WHAT THE HECK, SHELLY? This is so unlike me! Bear with me folks. I will come around. This is just how I'm feeling right now, and I'm not totally sure why.
p.s. It is now one day later, and for some reason I feel incredibly hopeful and happy. I considered deleted the above post, but I figured it might be interesting to you, to see the ups and downs that A SURVIVOR goes through. Moving forward, I can see myself being in the "hopeful, happy" camp more often than the "dark depressed" camp.
What a crazy experience this is.