I think I’ve hit what so many cancer patients hit. That little annoying depressive state. How the heck can I or other cancer patients be depressed? Well, let me share with you why.

  1. Our bodies are no longer how they used to be. We don’t look the same. Some of us may have lost a lot of weight, or gained weight. Some of us lost our hair, we’re bald (and beautiful of course), or we have shorter hair that we’re just not used to. We might have bags under our eyes, or have skinny arms and legs, or we might look sick. Some of us have ports in our bodies, a constant reminder of not being normal. In any case, we don’t look like we’ve always looked. I wore a wig for a long time until my sister convinced me not to one night when I went to a cancer charity event. I was treated like a celebrity there! After that, I decided to show off my bald and beautiful head. That wig was scratchy anyway. But, it was blond, so I’m going to keep it! I figure I can pull off the “blondes have more fun” and give my number to some hot cutie and then pretend I don’t know who he is when I see him again. I have black hair, I don’t know who you’re talking about… 😉
  2. We have lost that innocent thought that we’re immortal. We all know we’re going to die sometime, but with cancer you’ve got the grim reaper on your mind, sometimes staring you in the face. That’s not a pretty sight. Who wants that dark menacing figure hanging around? I sure don’t. I’d much rather give him a drink, and tell him it’s 5 0’clock somewhere other than here.
  3. Finances keep us up at night. Medical bills, loss of a job or career, etc. I recently took a gander at what my medical bills were – for that kind of money I could’ve gotten a second law degree or bought a sweet house with a pool. Damn. I shut down my law practice with my law partner because I had no idea when I was going to get better. Now I’m building up a business again, thrown back into the workforce and have to get a job working FOR someone else to pay the bills. As an entrepreneur, that’s pretty painful.
  4. We’re scared the cancer might come back. Now, I’m all for positive thinking, but that little nugget in the back of my mind is there. I ignore it a lot, instead choosing to say, it’s never coming back. But, sometimes that little nugget is like a rock in my shoe, just bouncing around and irritating my toes and scratching my neatly manicured feet. Just get out of there and go bother someone else. This chick is now wearing flip flops with feathers.
  5. Treatment has changed our brains.  We’re forgetful, we can’t concentrate and we forget the words to things. Chemo brain is real. I feel like some of that blonde has seeped out into my brain. I’m so super ditzy I feel like a valley girl with a spoon in my hand. Like gag me. People have begun to finish my sentences for me because you know, like, that thing over there, that thing you use to write electronically and communicate with people.. I forget what it’s called.. I need it to write this blog post. What was it that I was trying to say? My son came over and hugged me and now I’m at a loss.. ooh, squirrel!
  6. We feel so much and are very emotional. We’re like pregnant women on 8 cups of espresso. Little things can set us off crying. Cute little dog who gets hurt. Babies. Goodness gracious please do NOT show me pictures of innocent kids who are starving. I remember once when I was prego I spent 45 minutes in the car with my ex bawling over the leftover pies that the staff at Marie Callender’s were going to throw out that could’ve been eaten by homeless people. It was so bad he went back in and offered to buy every pie in the place. Yeah, it’s like that. Except now I want everyone’s leftovers to give away and someone to deliver them. I can barely talk about my ordeal in person with people without tearing up. I can’t imagine what I’m going to be like when I have to make a presentation at a conference. Bust out the tissues and beach towels, this chica’s getting wet. If we’re not crying we’re angry. Angry at the world. Angry at having to go through this. Angry that we’re not us anymore. Angry we were dealt this awful hand and can’t ask the dealer for a different card. We just have to play it and make the most of what we were dealt. We have to count our money at the table because we might not get another chance. So when we go into a rage, just let us be. We need to get it out.
  7. We’re excluded from things. Because we are no longer considered “normal” or “healthy” even when we are in remission, we no longer have access to things like life insurance. We have to wait five years to get good life insurance if we’ve had certain cancers, and even then the options are limited. Some cancers cannot get any life insurance at all. Thank goodness with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we can still get health insurance. I feel for those before me who had to face the reality that after a cancer diagnosis they were dropped from their health insurance. Hopefully someday we’ll have the same for life insurance. I’ve got no humor for this one, folks. I’m glad that there are other strategies out there for us, but many of us don’t know what to do in order to leave a legacy besides bills for our loved ones.
  8. Our health is at greater risk for getting a second cancer or other health conditions. Once we’ve been exposed and our health deteriorates, we develop other issues. We’ve been drugged, burned and are “radioactive.” I remember my oncology nurse telling me that if I flew I had to tell TSA that I am radioactive. I used to actually sing that song by Imagine Dragons..”I’m waking up I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system blow, welcome to the new age, I’m radioactive.” Just slap a sticker on me. But, seriously, we’re damaged inside and it’s going to take a while for us to heal and our bodies might not ever be the same. We’re scarred, and set up to take a possible hit. Too bad it’s not a home run or a pop song with lifetime royalty payments, we’re more like a steam ship trying to navigate through icy waters and not end up like the Titanic.
  9. We’re vulnerable and tired, but no amount of sleep will make us feel better. Fatigue from fighting, drugs and radiation takes everything out of us. Our muscles and bodies ache. Our minds ache. We just want to lie down and have it all go away. Everything makes us tired, but we still soldier on. Our poor bodies need a rest and we need time to heal. We deal with pain everyday.  I’m fighting fatigue and insomnia at the same time. I feel like a zombie somedays. I’m lucky if I can get to sleep before 2 and actually staying asleep for a full 8 hours is as predictable as riding a unicorn.
  10. It’s hard to be the hero. We all love superheroes and look up to them as paragons of awesomeness. When we’re fighting we become the superheroes to our support group. We hear “YOU GOT THIS!” “KICK IT!” “STAY STRONG AND FIGHT!” These words of encouragement are wonderful to hear. But, it’s hard to stay strong all of the time. Like I said in my previous post, while we’re going through the fight is like we’re at the party of our lives, the toughest boxing match kung fu kick butt fight we’ve ever been in. We have people cheering us on, screaming, yelling, giving us gifts, food, etc. Once the fight is over, everyone goes back home. But, there we stand, alone in the ring bloodied and swollen, eyes half swollen shut, cut up and bruised with our hands in the air. WE’VE WON! We look around and we see the empty stands, discarded popcorn boxes and flyers on the ground. What happened to our posse? When we’re better people still check in on us and we put on that brave face. Yeah, I look great with this short haircut that makes me look like a boy. Sure, I’m doing fantastic. But, really… some days I’m not. Some days I cry all day. Some days I’m scared and some days I’m really pissed off. But, I remain the hero to my support group, so like Wonder Woman so I shall be. Give me that lasso of truth so I can whip up some rainbows, unicorns and glitter.

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