Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brian Dumping

So, I was thinking last night that I need to update the blog, then I realized that nothing very interesting has happened to warrant an update.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.  (I am also knocking on wood, praying, and hoping I didn't just make a mistake in saying that....sometimes, I can be very superstitious.)  

Here's what's been happening around here.  We've been fighting all sorts of nasties around here.  I had a wicked head/chest cold that took me down for several days, and it also knocked Levi down for a few.  We no sooner pulled around from that, had a few days of feeling good, and at the end of this weekend, he got food poisoning and I got a stomach virus.  

Really, in the overall scheme of things, this is nothing, but I would very much like to go back to being healthy again.  :)  

Finally, I think we are all recovered and on the mend.  This last stomach bug threw me for a pretty good loop.  I lost 6 pounds in about 3 days.  In the past, that would be reason for celebration, but now?  I really would like to stabilize my weight.  (Never thought I would be worried about losing weight....)

Anyways, this bug this week made me delay my chemo.  Normally, chemo would have been last Friday, but Levi and I had tickets to go see my Rodney in concert (!!!) and the doctor agreed that delaying the chemo wouldn't hurt anything.  Then, when I came down with this virus, I knew I couldn't a) go in and expose all my cancer peeps to whatever I was dealing with, and b) I didn't have the energy to get there and then to go through with the treatment.  So, I delayed it.  Today, I go in for another round of lab work (which has to be drawn within a very short period of time prior to chemo to make sure levels are acceptable), tomorrow to meet with the doctors, and Saturday for chemo.  No big deal....

What else is going on here?  Well, the Rodney concert was amazing.  Levi went with me, which was just such a treat.  We've been through so much, and at this time last year, I was ready to give up on our marriage.  To be at a point, just 12 months later, where we went to an event like this together, enjoyed our time as a couple, and spent the entire weekend together was just such a blessing.  

Cancer can be so difficult on relationships.  Friendships are tested.   I've found that there are people who you thought would stick by you, but they don't.  Then, there are people you wouldn't have dreamed would be there for you, and they are your biggest champions.  Other relationships are strained.  I know that our marriage almost ended because of the issues associated with cancer.  

One of the things I feel like I've learned over the past 5+ years is that you have to deal with the issues that you face, even if they are tough to talk about.  I had a discussion with my daughter last night; she is having some boundary issues with a friend, and while she doesn't want to hurt this friend's feelings, she needs to back away from this person for a little while.  She was looking to me for advice and guidance, and I think she wanted me to have some magical solution that would fix the problem without having to face it.  I told her that, point blank, you need to take care of yourself and make your own life a priority.  While it's important to worry about others, to nurture those relationships that you cherish, it is all the more important to care for your own well-being, physically and emotionally.  Long story short, I offered to talk to the parent of the other child, but Julia's concern was that the concerns would get back to her friend and hurt her feelings.  I had to be very honest with her - her friend is going to get hurt when Julia backs away, but sometimes, that needs to happen to make sure that your own heart is healthy and happy.

I think this is a good lesson for all of us, as I think about it more.  I know that, as a mom (and woman), I tend to put other people's well-being ahead of my own, and make personal sacrifices to benefit others.  While that is noble and wise and something to be proud of, I've also learned that it's even more important to care for myself.  Being selfish is something we, as women and parents, aren't generally allowed to do.  It's often frowned upon.  

As a cancer patient, I've learned that being selfish is what's gotten me to where I am.  Here's why.  I have had to back away from friendships that didn't provide me with what I needed from that relationship.  I've also learned to cultivate other relationships that have provided me with what, in some cases, I didn't know I needed.  I can only give so much - my energy is finite, and my time is precious.  If a person isn't willing to put the same amount of energy into our relationship that I am putting in, I back away.  I can't afford to be in a friendship that is emotionally draining.  

I feel like I am rambling, but I don't know how to put it any better.  I guess what I am trying to say is that, as I spoke with Julia last night, I realized that she was so concerned with making sure she wasn't hurting her friend that she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness.  Again, I think that's noble, but I wanted to reinforce to her that her own happiness is just as important as her friend's, and that sometimes, it's okay to think of yourself and make a decision that may make someone else unhappy, if it helps heal your heart.  

Selfishness has gotten me to where I am today.  That sounds awful, but I can't think of another way to say it.  Selfishness makes me fight for my life.  I realized a while back that, if and when something happens to me and I am no longer here on this earth, my family will be okay.  They will mourn.  They will hurt.  They will miss me, and they will be changed in ways I can't begin to imagine.  But....they will be okay.  Whatever that means, I know that my family will eventually be able to move on and live their lives without me.  I know that I have loved my husband and let him know this.  I know that I have taught my children everything I can up until now.  My family knows how much they mean to me.  They are my heart, my soul, my world.  

But, when it comes down to it, I don't want to leave them.  Selfishly, I am not ready to let them go.  

I want to be here to continue loving my husband.  We have too many dreams we want to see come true.  We have too much we want to do.  I want to grow old with him, see our babies grow up, see our grandchildren born and grow.  I want to love my husband more.

I want to be here to teach my children.  I want to be here to see Julia grow up, get her first boyfriend, help her through that inevitable heartache.  I want to be here to help her pick our her prom dresses, her wedding dresses, her child's clothes.  I want to be the one to help her as she struggles, as she celebrates, as the triumphs.  I want to be here to see Kevin grow into a young man, then onwards.  I want to be here to help remind him that it's okay to cry when you're sad, and that laughing is what will eventually win over that young lady's heart.  I want to be there to dance the mother/son dance with him at his wedding, and watch his wonder as his wife gives birth to their children.    

So, selfishly, I take care of myself and my heart, so that I have the physical and emotional strength to fight this battle.  

I only hope that, in teaching this to Julia, I've done and said the right things to make her realize that her happiness is just as important as the happiness of others.  


Natalie said...

I love this post!!!!

drj said...

I would love to chat with you! Sounds like we are in similar places. I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer (mets to liver) last April, at the age of 38. I have a 5 year old boy and 7 year old girl. Was in remission after liver resection in August but they found recurrence in Feb (last month). I've also struggled with low platelets, WBC, and anemia since last August. Ack!
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm so heartened to find another survivor in the same stage of life!


Michelle said...

Jessica, I am not sure how to do this without giving everyone in the free world my email address. Any idea how we can connect?