My first post was a lot of information, facts, dates, and I wanted to post a little bit about the emotional part of this journey so far.
I have to start almost two months ago, when I wanted desperately to be pregnant and thought my swollen lymph nodes were benign and improving. I was struggling in many ways, and one day a friend gave me this piece of wisdom: “I find that when I start thinking ahead too much about things that stress me out or could cause me to fail, or when I look back too much on the things I regret, I can really lose it. But as long as I stay right here, right now, I’m okay. I can be driving to something really hard, but right now I’m in the car singing with my kids. Right here and now, everything is okay.” Her words tumbled around in my head for a couple of weeks, until we went on our parish retreat. There, I was able to let go of a lot of anger and hurt and fear, and truly realize that God is with me in this moment. He will be with me in the future, too, but I am not there yet and it will come when it comes. Soon enough, and often all too soon, but He will be there.
I have been living mostly in that emotional reality since the beginning of March, and with all that has happened, that miracle of healing has saved my sanity. Before, I would have been a complete basket case. I will not deny spending the Saturday between the missed appointment with the surgeon (SHE was sick!) and the one that happened doing some Googling…and feeling my heart start pounding and my ears start ringing as I found symptom lists that matched me and had the word “Lymphoma” at the top. I think I knew then, and I freaked out a little. I was able to come back to my center of peace, though, and while I still hoped the diagnosis would be better than I thought it would be, I had to focus on trust.
And in the days that followed, I had to take one thing at a time. I am pregnant. Yay! I will enjoy that for now. I am going to the surgeon today. Okay. I need surgery next Tuesday. Okay, but I have a life and pregnancy to enjoy before then. Surgery day. Okay, glad that is over! Waiting for results. They will come when they come and until then I am here and now and it is good. And so it went.
The hardest part of it all so far, and I wonder if this is fairly common, has been telling my loved ones and watching them have to deal with my diagnosis. My husband…his emotional story is his to tell, but to say the least this hit hard for him. My parents…same. My in-laws and our siblings. Friends, and friends, and more friends. I feel at times that I just have to DO this, but they all have to stand by and watch me do it and help me do it and go through their own journey with it. I didn’t want this for any of us, but here it is.
The other hard part that I have frankly avoided thinking about too much yet is how this is all going to affect my two boys. They are so young, and even though my 5yo understands a little bit that I had surgery and the doctors are trying to figure out what medicine I need, and he will understand somewhat when I start treatment, this will still shake up his world. We will do our best to keep things calm, to make my chemo days fun times for him to play with friends all day, to keep to routine as much as possible, and above all to keep him from the knowledge of what the word “cancer” means to us as adults–all the fear and danger and mortal sickness that the word carries–so that he will NOT have to associate the word “death” with my sickness. Someday he will know enough to realize what it all really meant, but not now. I would say “over my dead body” but that seems to defeat the purpose.
My hope and belief is that this time when I will have less of myself to give him, when everything is a bit strange, when he is playing more at friends’ houses and his grandparents are visiting more and Daddy is taking him grocery shopping even though Mama really likes to go to Wegman’s…all of this will be a relatively short disruption, and that this short time of less of me will allow for all of me to be there for him and his siblings long-term.
And that is my emotional state, generally speaking, at the moment. I don’t want to do this, but that is not a choice. I don’t want my tiny baby to have to undergo these risks with me, but I want that tiny baby to join us all out here and to have a healthy mother in the end, so there is not much choice there either. I know that all of this will get much harder before it is over, but I am right here, right now, with the sun shining through my window and my boys napping and playing, and right now is good.