Marathon of Fear

“Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.” -Pema Chondron

I still don’t know anything more about my cancer since the last time I wrote. Unless you count the Google searches I did which led me down a very black hole of misconstrued information and fear.

Note to self: Let’s not ever do that again.

I’m not myself, as you could expect. Besides the huge bags I’m carrying under my eyes, I think I just look . . . hollow. I’m pretty sure the worry is written all over my face and the stress is making my white hairs grow in faster. Vanity aside, it’s hard to feel so different from myself. Emotionally, I’m wrecked. I think the last time I was this fragile was during my breakdown of 2003. (I like to refer to it like that. Makes it sounds like I’m a character from a Woody Allen film.) Or maybe when I was 19 and my dad died.

I have cried a lot. This is, obviously, an understatement. Minor stressors have broken me into tears. Like too much downtown Seattle traffic to navigate which on a normal day just makes me pissed off but this time made me cry. Our dance instructor asked again about what kind of surgery I had so I just blurted out, “I have cancer.” Then I went to the bathroom to compose myself so I could come back out and dance with Mr. Darcy. Most of the time I can keep it together in public but it’s a tremendous effort and usually results in me crying in my car.

Maintaining that level of composure is very exhausting. People say I am handling it very well. That I’m brave. That I’m so strong. I don’t feel like I am. Inside I’m constantly having to talk myself off the tipping point of a complete freak out. Friday night I wasn’t so successful so Mr. Darcy came home to find me a crumpled mess on the bed, wailing about my fear of dying. If there were Olympic medals for being The Best Fiance, Mr. Darcy should win the gold.

The not knowing is making my mind think crazy thoughts. I’ve always had an over-active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Pair that with my impatience and my need to control everything and we have a recipe for disaster. I’ve started to doubt all the things I think I was told by my doctor. Did she really say it was small? Did she just reassure me that I’m not going to die because she felt bad for me? What if it’s spread? What if everyone gets sick of me talking about it and forgets about me? WHAT IF! WHAT IF! WHAT IF!

This is just a sampling of the thoughts running rampant in my brain that steal my focus and keep me from sleeping.

Besides the fears of, you know, dying and having to have a hysterectomy (or worse), I’m afraid of changing. It’s already happening. You can’t face this kind of news about yourself and not be changed by it. And while I am hoping the end result makes me a more together, compassionate, stronger woman, the process of feeling all this and having it shape me in a new way is so extremely uncomfortable. I have never felt more exposed, vulnerable, and not in control. I’m attempting to greet all my fears and get to know them instead of punching them in the face and running the other way.

I really want to punch them in the face though. (But I won’t.)

And so I wait to talk to the gyno oncologists. For answers I’m not sure I’m prepared to hear. For a plan that isn’t at all the one I’d designed for myself. Maybe once I talk to them, even if the news isn’t what I want to hear, I’ll feel better because I’ll have more concrete information.

I’m just waiting for the moment when I don’t have to walk around holding my breath anymore.

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27 thoughts on “Marathon of Fear

  1. Sizzle – We won’t get sick of you talking about your fears, it’s good to get them out and share them and have people support you. You are amazing. You are allowed to feel however you want about this experience – it’s yours. Cry, scream, get frustrated – but know in the end there are a bunch of people around you supporting you.

    Beat this thing, BABY!!! Kick its ass!

  2. I have been thinking a lot about you lately and hoping that you’re holding up. You ARE brave, not only for how your friends and family see you dealing with it; but, also for sharing it publicly and being real.

    I have seen so many friends beat cancer, including my best work friend who had a very rare type–she just came back to work two months ago (I like to brag about her – it was so awesome that she kicked its ass). You have Darcy and your family and friends, and the Internet is buffering here to give you some extra, special lovin’! I love you, Sizz!!!!

  3. you know, it might not be terrible if you punched the fears in the face just a LITTLE bit. i mean, they are kind of jackasses. some punching is understandable. (and THEN greet them & get to know them.) totally reasonable. 🙂

    ps XOXOXOXO talk about this every day, all day, if it helps. we are here to listen & enfold you in the giant-est internet hug there is, every day, all day, for as long as it takes.

  4. You can come and rant here as much as you want… we won’t get tired of listening to you. This is such a tough situation you’re facing and if one of us was in your situation, we would want a place to talk it all out as well… THIS here is your place!
    We’re here to support you! All the feelings and fears are so, so normal. Don’t feel like you aren’t allowed to freak out a little, because you are!
    Sending lots of strong and positive thoughts your way today!

  5. 1. Never apologize for talking about it and talk AS MUCH as you want about it.

    2. DO NOT Google, Web MD, or whatever they type of cancer you have or ANY cancer for that matter. Every case is unique and different. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go by statistics. So many people in my own family have been hit by cancer and this is one thing I’ve come to learn – each case is separate and so very different. HOWEVER, if you do want a second opinion after getting a first, then go ahead and get one for sure.

    3. Cry, get angry, laugh and do whatever you feel. Don’t apologize for it.

    And finally? You will kick cancer’s mofo’s ass. We’re here and will support you ALL the way. And always. Love you Siz.

  6. I have never been told I have cancer, but I can completely relate to the feeling you express about the “not knowing” making you crazy. In dealing with my own crises, I’ve found I can face up to anything but uncertainty.

    Hang in there. We are all here to “listen,” so please vent away.

  7. I typically fall prey to all sorts of anticipatory dread. For me it is not all that helpful, but I’m not great at avoiding a lot of What-If exercising when facing the unknown. The only trick I’ve ever managed is to agree with myself to hold it all together for just 15 more minutes (smaller or larger increments depending on the day, wind speed, barometric pressure..). Lather, rinse, repeat.

    My wish for you is that laying it all out here will provide some relief. Writing out the worst that you fear might happen, seeing the words, living past writing them. My hope is the naming will diffuse their impact over your here-and-now. Write it all out, take some of the power away from the what-ifs and keep it for yourself. That is what I wish for you for today. Or at least for the next 15 minutes.

    Waves of love coming your way.

  8. I’m glad at least you’ve already moved, one less thing to stress, can’t imagine this going on in the middle of that. Glad you have Mr Darcy too, and family and friends. I have been thinking of you as well, and just visualizing the best possible income. It’s hard to resist the undertow of negative thoughts, but you are working your way through it the best you can.

  9. You will not be forgotten. You are and will be loved. It’s ok to own your fear and cry and freak out. Just keep swimming, or dancing, or whatever it is that helps you get through each day.

  10. It’s stressful. I don’t know one single person who wouldn’t travel on your marathon of fear if they were in your place. Don’t beat yourself up for that on top of everything else, Sweet Sizzle. No one will forget you. Just keep getting up everyday and doing it. One foot in front of the other, one breath at a time. Those are the only things you can control, and that is scary, I know. You will find your way out of the totally normal and expected hyperemotional realm once a plan is set in place; then you can work the plan and make peace with whatever that may be. The information will free you to some extent, at least I think so. That has been my experience. Treat yourself well. Lots of love.

  11. ((((((((HUGS)))))))) There is no right way to process this information or to feel, except for however you need to. (also, I would totally punch that fear in the face for you, and then run after it an apologize. As is my way.)

  12. I am a colon cancer survivor so I can relate to your situation in a small way. You will survive this. Just put one hand in God’s and the other in Mr. Dracy’s and they will lead you through.

  13. long time lurker delrurking to say:

    i think you’re amazing. even if you don’t feel brave, i think you are. if i could be there in person, i’d let you punch me. because it just sucks. it truly, truly sucks. and i’m sorry about the suckage. i am overwhelmed in your words and i hope that writing is helping. know that many, many people are saying prayers for you. and that includes me.

  14. Sizzle, I just got back from Japan and started catching up on everything….oh, your post took me back a couple years. I was in the exact same spot as you. I had surgery and it turned out that the results were cancerous. There are many alternative to cervical cancer…don’t read the Internet. I had the one surgery, nothing else, and am fine. No further abnormal tests or anything. I’m keeping the best of thoughts for you, but am positive that no matter what, you will handle it with grace and strength. It’s ok to be scared, but try not to let it rule life…even for a little bit.

  15. Ugh, it is all so sucky. I am sorry. The googling, the worrying, the second guessing. You are totally normal for doing it, yet I know the feeling is totally abnormal and awful and wrong.

    I know you and I aren’t going through the same thing, but I want to share something we have been doing around here lately so that no one (read: me) loses her shit and/or freaks out about the future every day. (I was beginning to and, shockingly, I cannot live with that kind of daily stress on myself. Who knew?!)

    Anyway, we have been saying “Let’s let Future Lesley handle that.” Or Future Eric, Future Mom, Future Sister, etc. For instance, when I stress out about not being able to handle something that is going to happen next week or next month or next year, something not in my control, I say “Alright, I’ve done what I can, now it’s Future Lesley’s problem.” You know, it’s not a perfect solution all the time, but it has worked quite a bit. It kind of keeps you sane in the moment. It’s kept me from breaking down or pouring too many drinks a few times.

    I realize this may not seem like it applies, and you can silently or out loud roll your eyes at me (which is what I did when this was first suggested to me), I will understand. But I had to share just in case it might help you even once. You really are doing all you can, and doing everything right in a sucky, sucky situation. And whatever gets you through will be right. I promise. You can’t screw up emotionally dealing with cancer. And I will NOT get tired of hearing from you about it or anything else.

    xo

  16. You could get hit by a drunk driver or worse an idiot texter while driving and you could die tomorrow. Do NOT make yourself sick with all this worrying. Take one day at a time. And pray. The power of prayer really does work if you believe. It has worked amazing wonders for me and my former worriness/paranoia/fears when I was diagnosed with a deadly disease too in 2008. And I’m still alive and now am very proactive about my life and my health.

  17. I have a terribly overactive imagination. Case in point, I had a tender bump on my head last week that popped up overnight. I rubbed it silly for 24 hours (“Yep, still tender.”), convinced I had a cyst or a tumor. Two days later it was COMPLETELY gone. I have no idea what it is was or why it came and went, but I didn’t need to worry excessively about it. And still I did.

    I realize cancer is entirely different and I can only imagine where my mind would go with that diagnosis. Still, I would remind you that you only know what you know. So try to refrain from speculation about all the things you have yet to learn and/or experience as a result of this diagnosis. Worry won’t change anything except your ability and stamina to deal coherently with facts as you learn them. Think of it as keeping yourself strong for the real fight, not the pseudo fight that wants to kick your butt before you even get in the ring.

    And the crowd? We are totally behind you, shouting Sizzle! Sizzle! Sizzle!

  18. I’ve learned from experience that in a crisis Google is NOT your friend. I’ve also learned from experience that doctors will not say anything with certainty (particularly something positive) unless they are 100% confident they’re right. Hang in there.

  19. Ugh. My heart is heavy for you. I wish somehow I could take the next shift of worry and stress so you could have break. It would be nice if we could hand this stuff off like that. I’m sure you’re completely exhausted.

    As I was reading this and thinking about all these doctors I wondered if you had talked to your therapist about it all yet. If not, I bet she could help you navigate it.

    Love and hugs and kitty snuggles to you, friend.

  20. Thinking of you, Sizzle. Here is a video to cheer you up: http://www.raincityrockcamp.org/index.html (go down the page to the Animoto video). This is an organization that I volunteer for. There is also a Ladies Rock Camp that might be just about the perfect thing for your right now (it’s Sept 7-9), so check it out. The amount of positivity I receive from participating/volunteering with this organization has changed my life.

  21. Your dance instructor is either trying to be thoughtful (but really misguided) or is just a clueless idiot. Maybe she needs a punch in the face. If you don’t want to punch your fears, it might take the edge off. 😉

    Seriously, You are allowed to have meltdowns, so don’t even sweat it. I suspect once you have talked with the Oncologist you will feel more in control of things (as much as is possible anyway). Once you have all the facts you will be able to participate in your care plan and make decisions with your doctor. I think that will help your emotional state A LOT. And I’ll bet you already have a list of questions to ask her at your appointment, because, well, you rock. 🙂

  22. This is the time to be angry, worried, resentful, touchy, and generally pissed off. It’s unfair and sucky and you get to talk about it and feel about it until you say when.

    Once there’s more information, once there’s a plan, your Fighter self will take over and rise up.

    For now, I say cry, cuddle Mr. Darcy, and be angry. Together.

    The rest will come.

    I love you. We’re all here watching, waiting and wanting to help with anything, anything at all.

  23. Sizz, gosh, I want to reach through this stupid computer and give you big hugs and cry with you, because if I were able to give you a hug, I’d totally cry with you, too. I’m good like that. But, because this stupid computer just stares at me, it makes me want to punch it in the face. =) I’m thinking of you and returning the favor by sending major juju back to you. Fireworks over Montana, here we come! xoxo

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