It’s safe to say that on any given day I’m a very anxious person. No matter what situation I may find myself in, I’ve, most likely, already convinced myself that this or that will happen and then focus on that ultimate outcome and harp on it for who knows how long. I think it’s also safe to say that the last 7 years has given me reason to do so; since 2004 my family has had to say entirely too early goodbyes to both of my older brothers; we also had to watch my grandma’s memory slowly slip away day by day until she too passed away - so I think I should be allowed a little buffer room to be anxious about life, even more so since April 28, 2010.
I’m thankful that the first six weeks of treatment were pure emotional & physical chaos - it managed to keep my mind off the eminent surgery I would soon be facing, but no matter what I did, August 19, 2010 was steadily sneaking up on me. I remember the first mention of surgery - It was the week before I started any treatment and we were meeting with my surgeon to digest the previous three weeks and prepare for what was ahead. This was the day I would learn just what surgery would entail - the removal of my tumor, the removal of my entire rectum, and a permanent colostomy. Wow. My mind ran in every direction possible. When we got home, I tried my best not to play internet MD & start googling rectum removal and colostomies, but my curiosity of course got the best of me and soon enough, I gave in. I was mortified, and to be honest, yes, it was mostly the vanity aspect of it that got to me. For years, my body was my instrument - I was a dancer since I was 2-years-old and, in order to live, I would have to give up a body I had for 26 years; but of course it was “no-brainer” - I knew what I had to do to live & I was going to do it…in due time.
Like I said, thankfully the first cycles of chemo & radiation gave me more than enough to cloud my brain of surgery, but eventually those six weeks came to an end and I found myself in the final weeks & days before surgery. Within those last weeks & days, my mind wandered from here to there to beyond & back; every possible surgery-mishap crossed my mind. What if, for some unknown reason, I found myself in a situation like the movie “Awake” and I was aware and able to feel what was going on but unable to speak or do anything about it?! What if some sort of surgery tool was unknowingly left in my body and wouldn’t be discovered until it was too late?! Crazy, I know…but this is how my anxious mind works. I would literally lay awake at night, stare at the ceiling, and have various scenarios rush through my mind - one after another after another. I did my best to keep my fears to myself; looking back, I wonder if I did that to protect my family just in case one of those “what if’s” did come to be. In life, things happen that aren’t necessarily fair or what we expect and I think my family & my life are proof of that. The truth is, I was scared as hell & I was mad as hell, but I tried to never let it show. In my head, allowing the fear & anger to show meant that I was allowing cancer to control my life so I became very good at keeping it mostly between my husband, my journal, & myself…and now you.