I went for a walk this morning. Indoors on a treadmill, intended only to be a short one-mile walk, but more than I have been doing lately. The heatwave kind of killed my intentions to walk 8 miles a week.
I ended up doing almost two and a half miles today, even jogging for a few short segments because it felt good to move and focus on the air going in and out of my lungs, on moving, doing something, even if it was as nebulous as exercising to improve my lung function as those lungs fill up with tiny sarcomas.
See, I have a scan tomorrow and I get the results on Friday. I’ve been telling myself that it’s okay that I don’t get the results right away. It’ll mean that they have more time to come up with a definite plan before seeing me. That’s true enough, but to be honest, I hate the idea of waiting 24 hours between my scan and my appointment. It was the result of some screwed-up scheduling, a strange aberration since Hopkins otherwise has been great about making sure I see a doctor to hear my results and view slices of my scan the same day.
I remember before I knew that the cancer was back. I asked a friend who had gone through cancer and was in remission if she ever stopped being afraid of her scans and what they might show. She told me that she was still afraid of her scans and thought she always would be. It helped, knowing that I wasn’t the only scaredy-cat.
I am scared of a lot. I’m scared the chemo pills, alternating between 3 and 4 pills daily, haven’t been enough. I worry that maybe if I’d been stronger I could have taken 4 pills every single day and maybe that would have been enough to stabilize my sarcomas. They weren’t stable at my last scan — I can’t imagine that they’re stable now.
And of course I’m afraid of what the new treatment will entail. I already have so many days when I have a headache because of my meds or go to sleep absurdly early. Yesterday I was bound and determined to go to the July meeting of the Unofficial Handlettering Society of Silver Spring. I napped beforehand and picked out what I’d wear so I wouldn’t get nervous at going out and being social. I was excited to play with watercolors and learn from the far more talented attendees.
Then, less than an hour before I needed to head out, I got so horrifically and intensely nauseous that I needed to take one of my prescription anti-nausea drugs. It helped, but I still felt queasy enough that leaving the apartment was out of the question. I read and wrote and it was ultimately not a bad evening, despite my stomach feeling uneasy, but it wasn’t the evening I had planned. I haven’t made it to a damn handlettering evening in so many months I’ve lost count. If I can’t go when I’m only on chemo pills, how likely is it that I’ll make it when I’m on infusions and/or radiation?
I hate not living the life I want to live. I know how spoiled that sounds. A lot of people aren’t living the life they want to live. For many of them, they’re like me, and the reasons are completely out of their control. All the same, I’m afraid of losing more of what I enjoy.
Monday was good. Despite a nap and not getting done everything I meant to do, I got to the zoo with my husband and then we went to pub quiz with friends from church. Our team even managed to somehow win! I’m afraid of losing those evenings and not feeling well enough to attend those on even an irregular basis.
I’m afraid of my cancer leading me to not be as involved politically as I’d like. I’m afraid of a time when my cancer might keep me from advocating for the issues I care about and raising holy hell against those who want to control women, take away the ACA, or treat immigrants and asylum seekers like criminals. For goodness sake, we have a government that doesn’t know how to reunite parents with the children our officials and agents tore from their arms! I don’t want to waste time being afraid of my own body when I’m afraid of and angry at our government and at those citizens who support such heinous actions through willful ignorance and both open and denied racism.
So many people have so many more reasons to be afraid than I do. It feels selfish to be afraid, but I am. I’m afraid and doing all I can to work through that fear and stay standing and ready to fight. I don’t know if that’s perseverance, grit, hope, or some combination. Maybe it’s faith in the face of fear. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I have faith that somehow I’ll face it — no matter how afraid I am.