Monday 10 March 2014

Pity Party

There are some days when cancer kicks my ass. There are other days when the treatment of cancer kicks my ass. Then there are days that are both. When those days come the difficulty is compounded by the fact that many of the typical stress relievers that were sought in the past are no longer an option. What's a girl to do? I ate a whole pie and watched endless episodes of the Kardashians.

Since I started writing this blog I've been overwhelmed by the positive response. People have gone out of their way to send me private messages, emails and cards. If I have inspired or educated anyone I am humbled and happy for that. However, if I've given anyone the impression that I don't have a good old-fashioned pity party every once in a while then I apologize. I have definitely misled you.

I don't have them often and when I do I try not to make them last long, but damn I get the most out of them. I crawl into bed and sleep for hours. I wake up to cry, sometimes eat (pie), watch mindless TV (see paragraph one) and then go back to sleep. My diagnosis and prognosis suck but I think about that as little as possible--until the limitations of it smack me in the face and prevent me from doing things I need and want to do. Then I get frustrated. Then I get angry. Then I cry. An ugly cry. Lamenting about how much I just want to be normal and do normal things. There are so many days when I feel normal, when I forget I have cancer, and I try and do those regular day-in and day-out tasks only to realize I can't. That's when the party invitation goes out.

For example, when people I love and care about need me, I want to be there for them and with them. But that sometimes means driving distances that I no longer feel comfortable with due to the metastasis in my eye.  It means trying to be supportive and not feeling authentic because I'm not feeling 100% myself. It means giving a hug, that if returned too tightly, can leave me with back pain for days.

As unbelievable as it might sound I also get upset when I can't do normal housework and chores,like bringing in firewood. We rely on a wood stove for our main heat source in the winter and there is nothing I love more than starting my morning off in front of the fire with a tea and the newspaper (or my Twitter feed). On days when I can't manage to carry in wood it means letting the fire burn out. The sound of the furnace coming on is like a mocking voice purring out my failures.

I need to stress that I have no lack of people in my life who would be here in a heartbeat (and have been) to bring in wood or drive me where I need to go. My husband spends all his days off ensuring I have everything I need and more. What I struggle with is the fact that I need the help. If it hasn't been obvious in previous posts, I am a controlling, fiercely independent and private person. I'm not so vain or stupid that I would suffer rather than ask for help but it's the fact that I'm in a position that I need to ask for that help that brings out my inner Bridget Jones.

Before cancer, if I was having a bad day, I would pour myself a big glass of Pinot. Hell, I'd do that if I was having a good day. Alcohol and chemo just don't mix and for the most part I'm okay with that. I've come to acquire a taste for the fake beer when I'm socializing with friends. I was able to keep down champagne on New Year's Eve and even a few shots of tequila when I was on holidays, but wine, or any alcohol on a regular basis is a no-go. It's hard to describe the feeling that even a less potent, oral chemo drug leaves you with but I liken it to being in a constant state of feeling like you might be getting the flu. Not quite down for the count, but slight nausea, irregular bowels and a general feeling of achiness and exhaustion. So wine is out and I have to say of all the things I've lost to cancer, including my hair and my dignity, I miss wine the most.

Then there's smoking. I haven't been a daily smoker in years and years and quitting smoking was probably one of the hardest things I ever did. I remember once having a conversation with someone about smoking and how it continued to be a regular craving for me. I boldly said that if I was ever diagnosed with a terminal disease and was assured there was nothing that would cure me then I would start smoking again. What would I have to lose, right? Cut to 2014 and while I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted I just can't do it. I've taken a few puffs and even smoked a full cigar on my wedding renewal night, but if I picked up the habit again I know the guilt would kill me long before the nicotine.

So what stress relievers are left? I'm trying to eat as healthy as possible so that eliminates a junk food binge. I don't like talking on the phone so that takes away endless chatting with friends and family. The metastasis in my bones makes long walks and the treadmill things of the past. The eye tumour makes reading for longer than 15 minutes a struggle. Wow...we got this pity party started now!

Then I remember music. Music has always soothed my soul. And I remember Skype. The miracle app that makes it possible to see and talk with the ones I love even when I can't be there physically. Writing this blog helps. My son and daughter-in-law have managed to find me some half-decent fake wine. And there's pie (the healthiest, non-healthy junk food I can find) and the Kardashians. 'Cause there's nothing like watching a train wreck that makes you forget about the wild ride you're on.

I'm glad these pity parties are few and far between because they are emotionally draining, but I've come to accept them as a necessary evil. These are the days I allow myself to not be so tough. These are the days when people say, "Hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!" and I respond with "No, sometimes what doesn't kill you, just doesn't kill you."

Until next time......carry on.


  1. Hi Cindy,
    This is the first time I've read your blog. Deb Flynn just shared a link to it with me. After reading this post, I just want to say "thank you." The honesty in your words rings so true. FYI - I find watching Game of Thrones to be quite therapeutic. I often marvel at the harshness of the Middle Ages - at least for those who had little to no money, which would be most. You are in my thoughts nightly, Cindy.

  2. Thanks, Tamara.....I will have to check out that show! I appreciate your words and thoughts for me.