Friday, July 22, 2011

Riding an Emotional Roller Coaster

(To my readers: This entry is about an event that took place in 2002. It is not happening now. I am currently cancer free per my latest PET Scan. My blog entries chronicle my cancer journey that started in 2000. I appreciate the emails, calls and notes I’ve received supporting my journal and also praying for my good health. Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement.) 
Surviving cancer is more than getting through surgery. It’s a lot more than dealing with radiation treatments. Or, as I would soon discover, much more than regular chemotherapy treatments. I needed to keep reminding myself to take control of my emotions. I was alive and still healthy. I was going to get better real soon. 
I was having a tough time right after my lung surgery and by mid-June 2002, I was still on that emotional roller coaster ride. I was unable to sit down and write my feelings into a journal I was given. When I did write, all I could express was that “I was very depressed. I am still in pain. I am so scared.” 
On June 18, 2002 I had a CT scan of my chest and abdomen. Go to:  Like so many nights since the surgery, I had not slept well. I was unable to get through the night without getting up constantly to use the bathroom or just deal with the ongoing pain. I cried constantly, sometimes for apparently no reason at all. Tears just formed and fell down my cheeks. I wrote: “I want to wake up from this nightmare. I want to stop being sick and feel great again.”  Prior to the surgery, I was getting my life back to some sense of normal. Being a cancer survivor before the surgery was basically easy. Now, I felt like I was “back at square one” and having to “take baby steps” again. 
I questioned God. I asked “Why?” Call it the billion dollar question with no answer. Being on this mental quest for answers furthered my depression. I would discover that it would get much worse before ever getting better.
I sat and watched lots of videos and DVDs. I had told Brian and Adrienne, prior to the surgery, to get plenty of funny movies and TV shows for me to watch. I knew that humor had healing powers. Despite the horrific pain I felt 24/7, I forced myself to watch some of the funniest films ever made. I laughed and cried simultaneously. Holding my “heart pillow” over my chest, I tried desperately to deal with the pain while laughing. Trust me, it was not easy but in retrospect I would recommend it. Laughter does provide a positive way to deal with pain and laughing itself is healthy for the body. So, as I sat in my recliner watching film after film, I held my pillow tightly -- screamed at times in pain -- but still never diverted my eyes from the screen and the funny images before me. I would survive this experience and maintaining a sense of humor was essential. Go to: 
I must add a small detail here. A neighbor of mine, at the time, stopped over to visit. She kindly offered me a pedicure. For a brief moment, I felt relaxed and happy. Pampering is a good thing. It’s therapeutic, just like laughter. 
A couple of days prior to my first chemo treatment, I went out to lunch with friends I knew from the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Lillian and Carol Ann took me to Red Lobster for a delightful meal and conversation. They were both cancer survivors, so they understood the emotions I was experiencing. 
Carol Ann had also sent me a gift via mail and inside the package was a mug, button and T-shirt. At lunch, she made me promise I would wear the T-shirt at my first chemo session. The hot pink T-shirt proclaimed in bold white letters - “Cancer Sucks!”  All I could think as I unwrapped the package and took a better look - while also laughing -- was “How true!”  Cancer does suck!

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