A Letter to My Cancer
Dear tumorous cells that continue to make a comfortable home within my abdominal cavity:
We’ve known each other a long time now…It’s been almost 7 years since you first made yourself known during a game of tennis at our friend’s wedding in Scottsdale, Arizona.
You’ve been more or less a big part of my life since then. You might leave for a few months at a time but you always seem to return. I admit that I’m probably a pretty fun place to hang out…I have a great life, tons of friends, a great family, I laugh a lot and I feed you well.
Well, we’ve never had a hard-core negotiation and now’s the time. I’ve tried all kinds of different approaches with you. At first I was angry and tried to beat you out of me…not just medically with tons of toxic chemotherapy and invasive surgeries but with grueling workouts that I was hoping were too tough for you to handle. Recently I switched my approach. I’ve tried to partner with you and be reasonable. I’ve tried to nurture you out of my body, providing you with peaceful meditation, reiki and acupuncture. But no, you don’t seem to be content with that either.
What’s it going to take?
Hindsight is 20-20 and I’ll admit that the first few years you announced yourself I was grateful you came along. Don’t get me wrong, I never wished for you and it was never easy, but you undoubtedly helped me take responsibility for creating a richer, more meaningful life. I truly found my life’s purpose and stopped spending time with people and places that weren’t true to my mission. I started to realize how much time I was spending with activities that weren’t truly fulfilling and I changed my lifestyle and my attitude to reflect my new learnings.
I founded a charity that has not only given back to me, but to millions of others. So, if you’ve been waiting 7 years for a thank you, here it is…Thank you for helping me take account of my life and changing it for the better.
But now it’s truly time for you to rebalance yourself in my body and find the exit door. I promise you I will not forget all of the lessons I have learned from you if you leave forever. To be clear, Cycle for Survival will STILL thrive whether or not I have cancer. I don’t need to keep you to be “successful”. And I’m not going to resort to my old ways without you in my life. And I’m pretty sure my friends will stick around too…even if we get rid of some of the drama.
What I’m trying to say is that by choosing my body, you have truly met your match. What you don’t realize is that just as you have become more resistant over the years, so have I. You’ve had seven years to learn how to handle different chemotherapy regimens and adapt to them. Well, I’ve had seven years to learn how to handle you. What at first was overwhelming is now the “new normal”. If you think I’m giving up after this much time, you don’t know anything about where you’ve chosen to live.
I don’t think I am being unreasonable in asking you to leave. Some of you can stay. Healthy people can absolutely function well with a certain level of cancerous cells in their body…most people don’t even know they have them. But, you don’t seem to understand the word BALANCE. It’s time for some of you to leave. We need to re-balance between the benign and tumorous cells and find a happy medium.
I am asking nicely…let’s help each other find the balance we need.
Your compassionate yet getting-to-the-end-of-her-rope hostess, Jen.
This week has been a bit tough but looks to be turning up. The few days after starting chemo were tough. I had constant fevers and stomach cramps. The good news is that these symptoms all dissipated by Monday and when I had chemo this Friday (we increased the dosage and added another pill), I seemed to tolerate it much better.
That being said, I am starting to swell which is very concerning…both medically and mentally. I gained 7 lbs this past week which we know is water weight (unfortunately the chemo has not made me grab burgers but rather saltine crackers). If the weight gain continues, we need to figure out another plan. I can’t swell because it’s dangerous.
It’s also terrifying to me because I am so thrilled that I am still able to walk comfortably, get to the gym a few days a week etc. The minute I become immobile, it’s very hard to stay positive. Please wish for a swell-free week. Wish the fluid away.
I am getting a blood transfusion on Sunday because my energy has been a bit low. They always make me feel better so I am looking forward to the little “kick” that will provide!
I will write in a few days and tell you about the book I am working on that I am so excited about, I Know You Mean Well But...