Category Archives: Cancer

Circle of Sisters


Photo courtesy of Morguefile

I look beyond the horizon of my soul, searching
for connection in the vast wasteland of my being.
Restlessness, agitation rule my waking time.
Dreams, insomnia tick away the hours until dawn.
The tears come suddenly, frequently.
They anger me, these unbidden rivulets
of misery and weakness.
I have no right to wallow and complain.
I did not lose my hair.
I did not lose my breast.
I have a scar – not enough to bear the title
of “Survivor.”

I bottle up inside the negativity,
watching helplessly as it seeps across the barriers
I carefully construct. These promises of safety failing
miserably, leaving me exposed.
A year has passed.
Get over it you drama queen!
Are you simply vying for attention
with your sudden outbursts of rage and anguish?
You don’t need anyone. You have the tools to rise
above this. You studied this, this disease.
You know it well,
all its intricate, poisonous traps and evil intentions.
I spin my wheels helplessly, hopelessly unsure of myself.

The Noble Circle
The what?
A cancer support group. Just try them.
I think you’ll be a fit.
I agree with hesitation, convinced that it won’t work.
I don’t need anyone. I have the tools to rise above this.
I have studied this, this disease.
I know it well, all its finest details.

The time has come to meet them, this group of survivors.
A weekend retreat- but I decline…knowing I’ll be fine.
A season passes.
Desperation and despair permeate my being.
My spirit leaves and watches from the distance.
I fear it’s lost for good and spend the days disheartened.

Another call. We have a spot, a September retreat.
I cry and grasp the opportunity but worry I won’t fit. They’ll have more in common
with each other than with me.
They’ll have lost their hair, their breasts, I think, but
feel relief to see they don’t look any different than me.

I feel guarded this first day and hide behind a collage of images, creating who I am, or who I think I have been.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I lose control and cry.
Angry at my weakness, internal punishment and promises of control rein emotion in.
Benevolent gazes cause discomfort,
unfit for the attention.

A day of meditation, of food and interaction.
My essence hums with energy and excitement,
embraced with positive acceptance, fortified with
vows to dominate emotion.
A sharing circle brings epiphany.
I chew my tongue to focus on the physical,
refusing to break and bow to humiliation.
A woman speaks my heart,
and restraint buckles beneath a wave of hot tears
filling my soul with shame.
Soft touches and kind words of consolation
caress the pain away.
Sisters, they say. I squirm, unfit for the attention.

Drums pounding catch me in their beat, beat beat.
l play and dance in rhythm, two steps away from freedom,
not quite leaving memory and pain.

A final meditation,
the sharing of a story in poetry and art.
I look at those who came before me
and wonder who has passed and who I’ll meet.
A final day begins my transition to a sisterhood
and long-deserved attention.
Sister.
I practice the word, testing its boundaries
and fine lines, embracing long-awaited peace.

 

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com.


Easier Navigation


There has been increasing interest in my cancer posts from several folks. To make navigation easier, I have subcategorized the archives of these posts in the order in which I originally posted them. They can be found under the categories to the right.


One Year Cancer Free


Today is my anniversary. One year ago, they cut out a 1.7 cm malignant tumor. I have been cancer free since then.

I feel good overall. I am physically able to do normal stuff. My mental state, though, has been a bit more affected. I wonder how long it will take me to stop freaking out when the doctor wants to run tests. I still haven’t found my new “normal” state, but I think I am getting there.

At least I know I am not alone with that. I was talking with a co-worker who survived cancer and he tells me it’s always there, flitting around in the back of your mind. My doctor saw me last week, and she told me it takes about two years for her patients to finally move the fear of cancer from the foreground to the background.

So I have two goals this year. One, I want to start trying to push thoughts of cancer from my every waking moment to occasional musing. Two, I am not going to beat myself up if I can’t do that. I will remember it’s a process that every survivor goes through.

I have my one year. That’s really cool.

©2010 Copyright frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com.


Drumroll, Please


The verdict is in.
I listened with no reaction as the nurse said,
“It’s benign.”
I hung up the phone and nonchalantly told my family and friends,
“I don’t have cancer.”
No emotion, little reaction, apart from a texted “Yea!”
But there are not enough smiles to express how I feel inside.


Trepidation


Photo courtesy of morgueFile

December 9, 2010
“This is not normal. I’ll need to do a biopsy.”
A fear washes over me. Is it more cancer?

The doctor makes no promises.

I make my next appointment and leave the doctor’s office numb. The biopsy is Monday. The weekend looms before me.

On Friday the numbness gradually turns to fury. I try to contain it, but it slips out occasionally. I look for a distraction, but everyone is busy.  I take a sleeping pill and go to bed early. I just want the days to pass quickly. I need to know.

On Saturday I work. Depression sets in. I don’t call anyone. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. I stare at Netflix all night, then go to bed.

Today is Sunday. The rage returns. I want to throw something, hit something, break something, whip my body around in a frenzy until I drop exhausted. I want to roar my pain.

Instead I stare mutely, looking for distraction.

Tomorrow is the biopsy.

 

 

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com


Walkers for Knockers


I was part of a team today walking in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K fundraiser. More than 8000 people walked today, plus babies and some dogs (my dog Susie accompanied me).

We were the “Walkers for Knockers” team, with our team name in hot pink on black t-shirts. My shirt had a hot pink bar code on the back that said “Surviving Cancer…Priceless.” My co-workers bought it for me.

I think the red eyes give this picture a nice Halloween touch. I plan to grow some horns and a tail before the end of the month.

©2010 frayedges and http://www.frayedges.wordpress.com


Small Victory


Let me start this post by saying the following:

Yiiipeeeeee! Wooooohoooo!

*finish line dance*

Attention ladies and gentlemen, for the first time since my cancer treatments, I not only led my hiking group most of the way, I finished first! It’s a brisk-paced conditioning hike on a narrow, rocky, steep-in-places, rough-terrain trail of a little over 3 miles (5K).

Ok, now you probably need some background to understand the significance of this. Up until I got cancer I was always able to hike quickly over rough terrain and walk forever. Then, of course, surgery and radiation treatments weakened me. As a result of the surgery, I ended up with lymphedema (fluid build up), which swells up painfully when I exert myself to any degree. I was still trying to exercise all through my treatments until my doctor told me I needed to stop until after my radiation treatments were finished. So I did.

After I finished my treatments on April 19, I started exercising again, and shortly after joined the hiking group. I couldn’t keep up. I was in physical pain and very weak. I was unable to walk the 3 miles. So I walked the track in the gym instead, increasing my speed and distance slowly. I returned to the hiking group about 8 weeks or so ago. The first time back, I was able to walk the 3 miles, but much more slowly than the others. I almost didn’t make it. I was still weak, and the medicine I take to keep the cancer from returning left me nauseous most of the time. The lymphedema also swelled painfully. I hiked anyway. Every Tuesday I have hiked, and every week I have gotten stronger, and the lymphedema has gotten easier to manage. I have learned to ignore the nausea. And every week, I trail behind the others and get to the end of the trail last.

Today I was tired and nauseous, but I went hiking anyway. When I got there, something came over me, and I had a super amount of energy. I started off before the others, which I often do so that I don’t end up so behind, but this time I stayed ahead of them (about 10 people). I jogged portions of the trail, I ran up steps carved into the hills, and I stayed ahead, with only 2 people in front of me. The last part of the trail is straight uphill. As we neared the hill, I looked at the two people, assessed the trail, and took off running. I ran past the two people in front of me, straight up the hill to the trail head, and did a little jump to the cheers behind. I smiled in delight and have been smiling all evening.

Victory is sweet!


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