Truth.

Or… “Things I’ve Noticed/Observed as a Cancer Patient (In No Discernible Order)”. Or “Shitty Cancer Patient Observations”. Your choice.

Disclaimer: I’ve been compiling this list for a while. I’ve had 6 years so far and it’s not even complete. This is shit that courses through my head. Do not get offended. It is crap I deal with and think about. For me, it’s always good to vent and for people to know certain shit about things they don’t quite understand. So if you’re going to get butt hurt by this… stop fucking reading.

  1. People seem obligated to say “You look good” even if you look like you haven’t bathed in a year and you got hit by a truck and then placed in a kiln. (Future post on this particular subject in the works, to be published at a later date)
  2. Hospitals: People are always telling you to “get some rest” when you end up in the hospital. Anyone, cancer-y or not, who has spent any substantial amount of time in a hospital room as a patient will tell you this is virtually impossible. Someone is always coming in to do something to you. The MINUTE you finally get to start playing in La La Land someone comes in. Nurse to take your vitals. Phlebotomist aka Vampire to drain your blood. Housekeeping to empty your trash (why must they do this at 3 a.m.???). But when you need someone and you press the call button eight times no one can be found. Not even housekeeping.
  3. If you haven’t lost your hair, aren’t emaciated, or sporting a port in your chest or arm you will get the inevitable “but you don’t look sick” comment and they most likely assume you have been “cured” and make comments alluding to that even though you still have a cancerous tumor(s) lurking somewhere in your body and you’re at the cancer center so much for tests and scans that your calendar app already has predictive text for future calendar events. (Future companion post to the “you look good” comment also in the works to be released at a later date).
  4. Sometimes, you have to take blood thinners or your ass dies.
  5. Those blood thinners make you look like a Domestic Violence victim. As if being all cancer-y wasn’t shitty enough.
  6. You have too many doctors, too many surgeons and take too many pills.
  7. You want to have a mini funeral for each clump of hair you pull out of your head while in the shower.
  8. Omg my skin. What the fuck is up with my skin? Dry and itchy, oily and breaking out, sensitive to the point where I can’t be touched. Cuts and scabs will appear as if from out of nowhere. What the hell is that all about???
  9. You guys, my brain. It has stopped working. Seriously. I forget shit all the time. There are times I forget words. WHILE I’M TALKING. It’s like I’ve got Mom Brain, Cancer Brain and Chemo Brain rolled all into one times a million! Which makes for some pretty frustrating conversations at times.
  10. Netflix, Apple TV and Hulu are your best friends because you can’t seem to stay awake to watch a show when it’s on live and you have to rewind that shit several times.
  11. Needles/IV’s/MRI’s/CT’s/PET’s/ultrasounds/Biopsies… they all suck. Especially biopsies.
  12. So does waking up daily to nausea and stomach cramps.
  13. Speaking of biopsies, when a doctor tells you it won’t hurt, THEY’RE FUCKING LYING. They don’t know! Unless they’ve had a biopsy they have NO RIGHT to say that shit. I’m not going to lie to you. Fine needle aspiration biopsies and/or core biopsies… THEY ALL HURT. Fuck the lidocaine. That just numbs the top part of your skin. They go INSIDE you to get to the spot in question. No amount of lidocaine numbs the inside shit. Don’t believe the hype. THAT SHIT HURTS PERIOD.
  14. You’re hungry. But you also don’t have an appetite and you find you are forcing yourself to eat a lot because if you don’t you’ll pass out.
  15. Fatigue is your constant companion and likes to take you out without you knowing pretty much on a daily basis.
  16. You get really nostalgic for the days before cancer and find yourself saying shit like “Remember when” to yourself a lot or “that was BC. Before Cancer”.
  17. The Pharmacist now knows your voice when you call on the phone and immediately knows what you’re calling about and calls you by your first name.
  18. So does your oncologist’s nurse and scheduling person, people in radiology, and you find you are now best friends with the phlebotomists (vampires) and ask about their significant others and why they haven’t proposed yet.
  19. Not all cancer hospitals use butterflies when taking blood which perplexes me since all of our veins pretty much suck ass.
  20. Yes… I have a ton of tattoos. No… I do not like needles. Yes… I hate getting shots, IV’s, and blood taken from me and I’m afraid of needles. GETTING BLOOD TAKEN OR HAVING AN IV PUT IN IS NOT THE SAME AS GETTING A TATTOO!!! I don’t get anything pretty after ANY needle stick except for maybe a pretty gnarly bruise.
  21. These are the scans I prefer in this EXACT ORDER:
    • Ultrasound
    • Octreotide scan
    • PET scan (except for the part where I have to stay away from my kid for 12 hours afterward)
    • CT scan with contrast (I’m allergic to the contrast so I have to do this whole prednisone/benedryl protocol and sometimes the contrast burns like a motherfucker when pushed in)
    • MRI. MRI’s are the DEVIL.
  22. My cancer is not your cancer.
    • It is also not the same as your friend’s cancer, your mother’s, father’s, sister’s, brother’s, aunt’s, teacher’s, grocer’s, neighbor’s, or that one dude from that one show… you get the idea.
    • Everyone is different. What worked or didn’t work for one person may or may not work for me. I am always up for suggestions but it won’t necessarily work for me and you shouldn’t be offended when I tell you I’ve already explored that option and that my type of cancer is resistant to that treatment. It’s not an insult. It’s a fact. Stop being butt hurt. You have no right to be butt hurt over MY disease.
    • That “one guy’s” cure may not be mine. I’m hoping to find mine soon.
    • My pain isn’t the same as theirs. Don’t think I’m “milking’ this shit. This shit is real and I don’t want any part of it but for some reason I need to go through this so stop thinking I’m trying to get sympathy from anyone. I’m just trying to live my fucked up cancer-y life with no judgements from people who (hopefully) have no idea what the fuck I’m going through. And will never ever have to have an idea of what I’m going through. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst fucking enemy.
  23. THERE IS NO MIRACLE CURE. I don’t care what is in the deepest darkest jungles of the Philippines or Africa or wherever the fuck the special melon, herb or plant grows that “cures” cancer. It doesn’t exist. And as I said before, what works for them may not work for me. Thanks for the link, the book and the five hour documentary. I have no idea how to get that shit in my body or if it will help or kill me. Call it many years of living with this shit. I’m a little jaded now.
  24. I will take any and all well wishes, thoughts, prayers, healing light… whatever. I want this cancer GONE. For me and everyone else afflicted by this shit. I believe in a higher power. I appreciate everyone who has their beliefs and wants to practice those beliefs by doing what they can to spiritually push my being to wellness. I am so thankful for that and for those who do that and pass that on to me. But PLEASE DO NOT push your agenda on me or preach AT me. I take issue with that. I don’t force what I believe on you. Please don’t force me to believe in what you do if I’m not into it and then don’t get all judgey on me when I don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell me I’ll end up fucking DYING because I don’t pray like you pray (yes… that has been said to me). Allow me that same curtesy I’m extending to you when it comes to your beliefs.
  25. Kids are fucking resilient. But it sucks that kids with parents who have cancer have to deal with any of it. I see what my kid goes through. I’ve watched her handle my illness HER WHOLE LIFE. She is so thoughtful and caring and protective of me. But I know it fucks with her too and the thought of losing me has done something to her innocent little spirit that just makes me cry on the daily. I hate that I can’t be as present for her as I would like. That I don’t have the energy to do a lot of the things most healthy parents do with their kids. I hate that she freaks out when she hears I’m going to the hospital or hears I need another PET and have to stay away from her for hours. It’s heartbreaking to watch her call out for me and not be able to comfort her for fear the radioactive shit coursing through my body will harm her still growing body with it’s rapidly reproducing cells. The whole thing just sucks.
  26. Caregivers get the shit end of the deal. I have the best husband and partner ever. I constantly grieve over the loss of what we had BC (before cancer) and the fact that he has to not only pick up the slack I leave with our child but also deal with my many moods as I go through treatment and/or depression. He didn’t deserve to get sidled with a sick partner. But the fact that he married me despite the cancer and that he is still here even though I can be a major bitch ass some times speaks volumes about the man that I married and the father of my child. I thank my lucky stars for him every day. It takes a rare person to stick when they’ve been given an out many times (which I’ve done).

I’ve been compiling this list over many years. I’m still alive so you can bet your ass I’m not done. There are some things I’m sure I will discuss further. Others are pretty much “yup, that’s it, nothing else to say here”. And I’m pretty fucking sure I’ve forgotten to write other things down (that’s the brain thing). But for now… this is my truth. And my daily.

 

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2 thoughts on “Truth.

  1. Chris, please keep writing, please keep venting. You may not think it does a whole lot of good for anyone but you, but there are a whole lot of cancer-y people out there, that won’t write what you do, because they don’t think they can and they think they’re alone. It isn’t just that, but it gives us that don’t have cancer-y problems, at least not now and hopefully never, a better understanding of what you have been through. We’ll never know entirely how you feel, but we will keep praying, we will keep thinking of you and your family and your little girl, Autumn. I love you my dear friend. I’ll have a Sunday for you from Friendly’s. 💜

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