The other day I was taking the back roads home from town. I came upon a railroad crossing. The arms were up, the lights were off and there was no train in sight but I stopped anyway. I looked both ways, I looked again and then I almost turned around to take a different route without tracks. Panic ensued. I was seriously afraid that a train would appear out of thin air and hit me at 100 miles per hour. That’s what cancer did to me. I’ve seen too many friends and acquaintances get hit by a “train” out of nowhere. But really, none of us ever know.
Am I going to stop living life, stop going to the doctor, stop doing anything fun because I might get hit by a “train”? Absolutely not. I’m going to enjoy every precious moment that I can. I got hit by a train and I got right back up. No, I will never be the same, but maybe I’ll be better. I think of all the moments that I’ve missed before because I’d just rather be comfy at home. Not anymore! I’m going to go, do, and see. Home will always be here when I need a soft place to fall. Last night my husband and I stayed up way too late watching movies, we even went on a midnight drive just because. So, if anyone wants to jump out of a plane, race go karts or take an impromptu road trip, count me in. I’ve finally learned that it just isn’t worth it to sweat the small stuff. I hope I can remember this when the school year begins.
For the entire 7 years that I lived in Florida, I had moments where I just thought “I can’t believe I actually live here.” I thought that until the day I left. Driving home from the grocery tonight I was admiring the sunset over a cornfield and I thought “I can’t believe I actually live here.” It was a reminder that there is beauty everywhere.
I have been immersed in sorrow, pain, envy, bitterness and anger over the last several weeks. As I cleaned out my hall closet to make room for some recently bought toiletries, 2 pregnancy tests fell out. It broke my heart, I will never need those. I will never wait with bated breath hoping for that little positive sign. I will never announce to my husband that he’s going to be a daddy. But some woman, somewhere, some day will walk into the store with shaking hands and fear in her eyes to purchase a pregnancy test. She will go home and find out that she is pregnant. She will be immersed in sorrow, pain, envy, bitterness and anger but hopefully my prayers will be sent to her. She may choose me to love her child unconditionally, and there is beauty in that.
I feel like I’ve been laid bare for the world to see. I’ve been congratulated on my cancer free status so many times. And I am thankful for that but I’m still grieving. I have yet to find the beauty or joy in this situation. I can only hope that there will come a day that I don’t cry. A day where I can face any situation with a smile on my face. Right now, it’s still raw. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined. So tonight, I will pray for strength. Strength for me and strength for the woman who will one day make me a mother.
You know how every Grey’s Anatomy starts with someone coming in with some super rare injury, disease, growth? The Doctors get all excited and whisper and fight over who will get it. That shit actually happens in real life and I’m that patient!
Apparently I’ve been quite the topic of conversation at “Tumor Board” for the last 8 weeks or so. My cancer was extremely rare. No one really knows what to do with me. I went to a geneticist today, she’s curious and excited about me. I had some blood taken to see if I have Peutz-Jheger syndrome. She doesn’t think I do, and neither do I. I saw a radiation oncologist today. He’s not recommending any radiation but he is sending my tumor on the first plane to Houston, Texas for his mentor to look at. (I think it’s his way of bragging.) My tumor is quite the traveler. Then I saw my regular oncologist just for a follow up and leg measurements to check for lymphadema.
Two things happened at my appointments today that made me feel good.
1. The geneticist addressed my loss of fertility. She acknowledged that I am probably struggling more with that than with the cancer. That validated my feelings.
2. The radiation oncologist addressed that the hardest decision to make is to not do further treatment. He said that I am so young and they will be monitoring me so very close that he doesn’t want to jump into unnecessary treatment.
I feel very encouraged that they are being conservative and doing their research. Not one of my Doctors has seen a case like mine. They’re learning because of me. My body is going to teach them something. These Doctors are invested in ME.
I didn’t get many answers today and I feel like a human guinea pig with more tests and follow-up appointments scheduled. This will be my life for the next 5 years. This will be my new normal. I will become more immune to the feeling of walking into the Cancer Center. These appointments will become less stressful, I hope. Right now, it’s all so fresh. I left today’s appointments tired and reminded of what I’ve been through. I have 4 weeks until my next appointment, so no more worries until then.
This is where I write the thoughts of my heart. The things that my brain will not always allow my mouth to speak. Things that I can’t speak to anyone because they’re too dark, scary.
I went to the Dr. Wednesday. I’m cancer free. Those words should have brought a sense of excitement, joy, relief….and they did, but not immediately. My immediate reaction was anger, disappointment, extreme sadness. Why? Because this cancer stole something from me. It was fast, furious and it took something that I will never get back. No one will ever “ooh” and “ahh” over my pregnant belly. I won’t feel the kicks of my child or lay while my husband talks to our child growing in my belly. I am still in my child bearing years with no child bearing parts and more importantly, no child. This still makes me so sad that I can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t talk, think or function. Then I remember that I have a life ahead of me.
Six weeks ago I wasn’t so sure I’d see 35 or 40. I laid in bed at night and thought about what my funeral might be like. What stories would be told? Surely there would be vodka. People would cry, hard. People would laugh, harder. The music would be phenomenal. Really, it would have been a party. That’s what I would have wanted. I worried about my husband, my family. Would they go on and be happy without me?
Cancer has taken something from me. It’s taken my ability to carry a child. It’s taken my sense of security, invincibility. But it’s also given me something. None of us know when our whole life will change, when our plans will no longer be attainable. I will have bad days. But I do vow to love harder, laugh harder and enjoy every moment that presents itself. I will not sweat the small stuff. I learned that I am loved beyond measure by so many people. So here’s to the next 40 or 50 years. May they be happy and full!
The universe knows when I need a distraction. Having my in-laws here last week was a total blessing for so many reasons. I missed them so very much and just being with them was so good for my soul. It got me up and moving and being as normal as possible. It was a well needed distraction from thinking about Wednesday’s Dr. Appointment. I really don’t think I missed a beat last week. I may have overdone it a bit at first, but I hung right with the party! I’m kind of like that song….”Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride, Nobody’s gonna slow me down. Oh no, I’ve got to keep on moving!” (You’re welcome! You’ll be singing that the rest of the evening!)
I’m ready to get back to moving, walking, dancing, working out. I’m ready to get my life back. Everyone comments on how well I’m doing. I suppose they’re right. I am doing remarkably well. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hurdles ahead. I’m still extremely sad and devastated about what I’ve lost. I want nothing more than to be a mother and for Vedran to be a father. I still cry, often. The urgency is gone though. I can not hurry this along. In time, we will figure out a new plan, but right now, we wait for news. We look forward to small moments together.
So, I remind myself again. Wednesday’s appointment will bring news…good, bad, indifferent. It will probably also bring more waiting, but I’m learning to be more okay with that. I have 4 more weeks of summer to enjoy and I intend on doing just that!
Almost 3 weeks out and I’m feeling pretty darn good. I’ve kept up with company. I’ve floated, without getting wet, on the lake. I can’t complain too much. I’ve probably overdone it and I’m quite uncomfortable. I’m not sleeping well at all. Lack of sleep caught up with me today and has made me a little weepy. I’m still sad for my loss. Sweatpants and dresses are more comfortable than real pants. I’m anxious for Wednesday to find out what the next step is. Hopefully the next step will be moving on with life and waiting the 5 years to say I’m cured. But, if chemo and radiation are prescribed, that will be okay too.
I’ve wondered a lot about being a cancer “survivor”. When does that happen? Am I a survivor now? I suppose I am. I don’t think the Dr. taps you on the head in front of friends and family saying ” I dub thee, Jennifer Mesanovic, a survivor.” LOL That thought makes me laugh. This is how I know that I’m okay. I still laugh and I laugh hard. I think I’m hilarious and I thoroughly enjoy a cheesy joke or pun. So, I’m not just surviving, I’m not just putting one foot in front of the other. Most days, I’m living just like I did before the big C.
Everyone enjoy your holiday weekend. Hug your families tight and laugh. Laugh hard! As for me. I’m going to try and enjoy a quick nap.