Then vs. Now

I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t know how to write about this actively growing cancer. When I created this page, I didn’t plan for it to be a “cancer blog” so much as stories about life. Part family, part life in general and of course part cancer because with quarterly scans, daily medication and suck-ish side effects, it really can’t be ignored.

That’s part of the problem of living with metastatic cancer. You’re never quite sure how to balance life before and life with cancer. Unfortunately, there is never life after because treatment never stops. I guess in this case, life after cancer is also known as the after-life.

But still, you find a way to keep it from the forefront because it doesn’t feel as threatening. It can be pushed back. You know it’s there but the treatment keeps it stable and in some ways, it can be ignored. Until recently, that’s where I was sort of able to keep it as I wrote about family things or baked goods or donut porn. Yes it always crept back in, because all of my life is viewed through a slightly cancerous lens, but I could make it stay there. At least when I was writing more frequently and had more on my mind.

And now?

Now it is actively growing and I find that it’s coloring everything I do or think. I spent the weekend out of town with family and I realized that every time someone mentioned a future plan, I finished the sentence in my head with “if I’m here”. I hate that I do that. I hate that I think about Mother’s day and wonder how many more I have. Very likely I’ll have many but the unknown is driving me crazy. It has since January when my scan came back with new growth.

I can feel my family watching me and I wonder if they’re thinking the same thing. My mom asked me to put my glasses back on because she doesn’t like the way my eyes look. Moms can always spot illness in their children’s eyes. SG studies me when he doesn’t think I’m looking. I don’t know if he’s wondering if I’m ever going to do anything with my crazy hair or how much more time we have.

I wonder if I should write with less honesty because I might go a little soft and tell my family about this blog someday but then I know that if I do, I will bring the cancer filter that exists in real life into this safe haven I’ve created for myself. This place where few of you actually know what I look like or care if I’ve gained a little weight.

By the way, the weight is only my surgery buffer because I know I will shed quite a bit afterwards. Kind of like people who gain weight before Survivor. Yeah, right.

So where does all this leave me and how do I write about it? How do I balance topics when the scales are tipped so heavily towards the big C? Do I go ahead and purge it all here and hope that I don’t scare you all away? Do I bite the bullet and fully embrace the title of “Cancer Blog”? Is that a limiting name?

I kind of don’t think so because there are so many of us out there and truly, the idea is to live with cancer in all it’s forms. It will still occasionally take a back seat to something stupid that I do or say because well, that happens a lot!

I saw a photo the other day on the Humans of New York Facebook page. It was a picture of a woman who had recently lost her husband. The caption was something along the lines of “I wish I had spent less time sad that he was dying and more time happy that he was still alive”.

I’m not dying, I’m simply dealing with the same old crap I’ve been facing the last 7 years. The only problem is I’ve never written during this phase. I’ll do my best to try to find the balance but please bear with me while I work things out.

Sometimes I think of adding another blog dealing strictly with issues of the chronically metastatic. With all of the wonderful drug development we are a growing bunch. That would be the one where I come clean – no anonymity. This disease needs a face. One that says, “Hey, you know that healthy looking mom sitting down at the class party? She has cancer, cut her some slack.”

Something to think about I guess.

18 thoughts on “Then vs. Now

  1. You write what I think about. I have metastatic breast cancer. And when we talk about the future I always think “will include be there for that? ” “will i see my baby drive a car? See her in her prom dress? ” maybe. I like you hate when cancer seeps into happy times. A shut off switch would be nice. Jenn

  2. I had no idea that this blog was yours and yours alone (no family members know about it). I say write whatever you feel, need to express, dream about, bitch about . . . whatever! Use it for yourself. I am one of the people out there who has no idea what you look like ~ and I could care less. For all you know I may be a 4 foot tall punker, sporting a deep blue mohawk and covered in tats and piercings . . .(I’m cracking myself up.) Don’t worry about scaring me away. I’ll continue being your windy city cheerleader.

    • That’s so funny!! That’s exactly how I pictured you Julie ;) SG knows about it but I don’t think he has any idea what the web address is – or even the name. I think HE thinks of it as MY place.

  3. Hi Annie. I found your blog via Kelcey and really enjoyed your writing style and also connected with your situation — a family dealing with metastatic cancer. I know we’re only getting one little (filtered) piece of what’s really going inside that brain of yours, just as I know I only got a small piece of my husbands. I was the ‘SG’ in our family. I was the one who tried to study my husband when I thought he wasn’t watching. I was also the one who tried to ‘stay strong’ as I thought that was my job. I read stories like yours, stories like mine, and I SO BADLY want to fix the situation, just hit the nasty cancer right out of f*cking park. (This is my control freak coming out). But instead, I push my linear thinking hyper analytical mind to remember that tomorrow is not promised to anyone! Heck, every single one of us could be finishing our sentences with ‘if I’m here’! The old cliche is true … Every single day is a gift and should never be taken for granted. Darren has been gone for 11 years and my regret is that I didn’t open up more and LIVE more and be REAL more when he was alive, fighting his battle. I felt I needed to hold it together for him… But I was wrong. Don’t have any regrets… DO live like this is your last Mother’s Day (and for every single Mother’s Day to come). And if you ever need a pep talk on this, just throw on Tim McGraw’s, “Live Like You’re Dying’ lyrics (blast it through the house and dance on every free surface you can find – and grab your girls and SG along the way.) Works for me every time. ;). Blessing to you …

    • Wow Rhonda! From this reply I can tell you were an amazing support system for your husband. I am so sorry for your loss! I know my sweet Science Guy feels he needs to stay strong too but sometimes I wish he wouldn’t. I hate the stress I put on him. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Many blessings to you too!

  4. You might want a second blog to speak more directly to the people who are walking in your shoes, but that’s only if it would benefit YOU. For those of us out here reading, we love the whole you–the up days, the down days, the furious days, the loving days, the days that are all of those things mixed up together. I for one will be very happy to read whatever you decide to share, as often as you care to share it. Since I care about you, personally, I would probably read it no matter what, but the fact that you are a wonderful writer means that I will read whatever you write.

  5. I think you should write whatever truths you wish to share. People always want to read what’s in someone’s heart. Regardless, whatever you decide to write, I just know it’ll be worth reading.

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