Sunday, June 27, 2010

Waiting for the good news to sink in.

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.


  1. You are not crazy. Everything you're feeling is totally normal and valid and you shouldn't feel bad about your feelings.
    Don't worry about making us feel better. It's not about us - it's about you.
    You are normal. And you don't have to be strong all the time. And you don't have to be happy because we expect you to be.
    Just be.

    You've been given permission by Heidi.

  2. Ditto to what Heidi said. From both a personal and professional (hey, I am therapist!) POV, you sound like you're processing this all just fine, and you're reactions are normal.

    I'm ecstatic for you, by the way.

  3. Shelly, you put into words that so many of us who have been seriously ill or have had another cancer,feel. Or even if you haven't been sick, we ask this question. You have the gift to share your feelings with the rest of us who know and love you. Nelly Petrock