Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Side Effects Stink!

A few of you have asked how I've been feeling so just thought I'd be pretty honest and share my heart a bit.

Don't know why really, but I guess I haven't spoken too deeply on my blog here about my cancer journey. I mean, sure I've referred to it - just in the general context of the appointments and treatments - but not how I feel about it. I suppose it's because I DO NOTwant cancer to define "ME", if that makes any sense. I don't want to constantly talk, talk, talk about it. There is still so much more to me than that stupid word.

Frankly, I've really been struggling with the whole thing. I'm tired of not having hair and now simply having a choice between wearing a wig or a cap. The night before Thanksgiving I had to run out to the grocery store for a forgotten dessert ingredient. I had been in the middle of making the dessert and realized I needed another container of Cool Whip. I just had a cute little beanie cap on and decided to run my errand like that. Well, as soon as I got of my car and walked into the store, people were looking at me real funny. No, it wasn't in my head nor was I being overly self-conscious. I mean, unless you're totally dumb you can tell if someone is staring at you or not. I hurriedly got what I needed, then just got outta there real quick. I got into my car and just burst out crying. I cried for quite a while that night. Bobby & the kids weren't home that evening and I was alone. I cried for how very drastically my whole life has changed within the span of almost 5 months....For how I've gotta deal with all this crap now. Oh, you just don't know how sick I get of it every single day!

I think my way of dealing with it is to try to carry on as normally as I possibly can. I told myself at the beginning I wasn't going to sit around and mope. I was going to try to hold my head up high and deal with it. I was going to MAKE myself get dressed and avoid LOOKING like a sickly cancer patient as much as I could. But ya know what? Life hasn't worked like that. There have been some really BAD days.

The side effects of the chemo have been so awful. This latest drug I've gotta take brought with it unbearably achy joints, tingling hands/feet and watery eyes...my eyes constantly water! The achy joints (imagine like when you have the flu - THAT kind of achy) and tingling happen approximately 2 days after the treatment. The pain began Thursday evening when I was at Tess' band concert. There were so many people there it was standing room only and not one available seat in the whole auditorium. I honestly didn't know HOW I was going to be able to STAND along the wall for over an hour. But really, WHAT was I gonna do...tell someone I need a seat 'cause I'm undergoing cancer treatment? Um no, don't think so! I finally ended up sitting on the floor along the semi-circular stage (not near the performance - no, by the back of the auditorium) and all I could think of when I was sitting with my back slightly on the brick wall was this....I've GOT to make sure this stupid wig doesn't catch on the brick and get pulled OFF MY HEAD!

The watery eyes thing? I'm having trouble being able to wear any eye make-up AT ALL. Now, before you go thinking I'm all vain or something...imagine YOURSELF in that situation if you had dark circles and your skin just looked pasty. Um, I don't really enjoy going around looking like that. I LOOK SICK...who wants to go around looking bad all the time? Know what else? It's painful; my eyes really do hurt.

You may have heard someone with cancer say this..."I just want the OLD ME back!" And every word of it is true. I look at before cancer pictures of me; I think back to how my life was before and I just want to bawl. But I have to say this...I HAVE NOT used cancer as an excuse in my life. I don't lay around in bed or on the couch making everyone feel sorry for me. That is the VERY LAST thing I want - pity. Nope, don't need that. Not today, not tomorrow, not EVER!

But I think I would be very remiss if I didn't share the flip side of how I feel. Oh my goodness, I am acutely aware of HOW BLESSED I truly am. Things really could be sooooo much worse. The cancer could have spread. I could be confined to a bed. I could lose all my independence. (Shoot, I drive myself back & forth to chemo - I'm STILL so independent!) And for all that HASN'T happened, I AM VERY GRATEFUL! So many people have loved me and supported me and been so kind throughout this journey. My heart is full of thankfulness.

So, I take it day by day and - as my mother would always say - don't borrow trouble. Isn't that how we should be living our lives anyhow? Remember, we're not promised tomorrow. We've got to make the most of every single day! I, for one, do not want to live with regrets. This cancer journey has just reinforced what I've always felt anyway...TREASURE THE MOMENT!


  1. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. I have wondered how you are "really" doing and it's good to have specific things to be praying for. I am living each day intentionally right now. As you know it's not cancer I am fighting, but this illness has robbed me of my "old life". While I am waiting for some sense of normal - I choose to live. And you said it so well...to TREASURE THE MOMENT.

    Love ya,

  2. Michelle, if I could stop crying I could just maybe type something here that makes sense!

    Like Sheryl stated, I'm so glad that you have really given us an insight as to how life is for you these days because yes, it gives us a better knowledge of how to specifically pray for you...and pray I do, regularly!

    I could so picture myself in your place while you were at the grocery store and then crying in your car. I can just picture you holding it all back until you were alone. I'm so sorry.

    I know you've just had chemo so I hope and pray the next few days will be joint-pain free!

    Take care and talk to you soon.

  3. Oh Michelle,

    It couldn't have been easy for you to finally tell us how it "really" is with you. But, now that it's been said, we'll be able to pray more specifically. Just remember, we all love you here...and we're here for you any time you need us...anytime you need to "vent"...anytime you need someone to listen.


  4. Michelle, Thank You for sharing your heart with us tonight. I wondered how you did with your treatment today and even how your crockpot of dinner turned out lol... when it was time for our forgotten dinner to be ready...

    As I haven't any true color to brows or eyelashes and I guess I am vain also beacuse I'd feel pretty bad not wearing makeup and the wig thing would itch.

    Please know next time your are in the grocery store and people are staring at you, you have the love and support of hundreds of friends here in blogland. (People are curious and usually are staring out of concern.) But most specificly your Heavenly Father loves you and will never leave you alone. He understands your pain like no other can. Through yours and our prayers together, I pray you find relief and healing.

    You inspire us all with your desire to be normal and want normalcy for your beautiful family.

    with love and lots of hugs,

  5. Wow. I just don't have words at this moment except to say that you have just put me in my place. Cancer sucks. I am so blessed to know you - a strong survivor, not willing to give up.

    I'm praying for you. Every single day.

  6. What great blog ladies there are, I could not have said it any better then any of them, we love you, and are here for you, but first and foremost God is too!
    And yes we should all treasure every single moment!

    love ya

  7. Hi Michelle ~ I agree with Linda..I need to stop crying so that I can finish typing with errors! Thank you so much for the insight into what's been happening and going on inside you. You are such a strong woman and I admire you so much.

    Take care and hope that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!


  8. Well said. All I can add to that is that all you will ever get from me is friendship, love, admiration and ,if I had a set of pom-poms, a really cool cheer. Everyone should live their lives treasuring the moments that we are given..they are gone all too quick! Now, where is that dessert you were talking about :-)

  9. Oh Michelle, it is so hard to hear what you are going through. Thank you for being so honest. My heart breaks for you and I know I could be hit with the same news any time, any of us could. I pray that you will have a full recovery and you will get YOU back. God bless you as you are going through this journey. You are such a dear person.

    Big hugs, Sharon

  10. I don't know where to start. I wish I was there to give you a big hug. I have to tell you that I find you are the nearest thing to Superwoman that I think there is. I don't know how you do all you do. Heck, I can't do 1/2 of what you do and I don't have cancer!

    You have every right to cry at times. You are going through a lot. Yes there is a lot of wonderful things you have in your life but come on! You have been dealt a hand full. No one could get through it without a few tears.

    I think you are a wonderful mother, a wonderful wife and a wonderful friend. I really look up to you.

    I don't always post a lot but I do read your posts. I've also kept you in my prayers.

    You are a very special person and are dealing with this cancer like such a classy lady!

    You make me smile!


  11. Dear Sweet Shell, Thank you for sharing your heart. You are a dear sweet person. I am so sorry you are going through this. I am just now reading this that you wrote last week. How dare I have poured out my silly struggles to you when you were going through this. I'm sorry. You are so precious. I pray this gets over with very soon and that all health and more health is restored to your body. I pray you are feeling better today and that very soon you have all your hair back and your glowing pretty skin too.

    Thank you so much for cheering me up during my dark moments. Mine have no validity though.

    I'm so glad we are friends. You are so dear. Hugs, Kathi

  12. I am so blessed by what you have shared. I am in my first round of chemo and there just aren't too many answers in the healthcare community for how this is all going to go. Reading personal journeys like yours has been the most informative...and encouraging resources to help me navigate the unfamiliar territory. Thanks for posting so honestly. It helps girls like me!!!


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