WARNING WARNING WARNING: The blog you’re about to read has some very emotional content. Read at your own risk.
With Great Responsibility Comes Great Pain
Watching the new X-Men movie yesterday made me realize how very much I wish I were a super hero. Isn’t that something we all wish for at one point or another in our lives? That each of us is special and we’re meant for greatness. I just didn’t know that my special hero power was going to be fighting leukemia with a smile on my face while (hopefully) inspiring people to live life to the fullest. Just like the stories of our favorite fictional characters, there’s a breaking point. There’s the point where you fall and you don’t know that you can pick yourself back up. Some days I feel like Superwoman(n), some days I just, just…don’t.
I stand by everything I’ve said up to this point about maintaining a positive attitude and how failure is not an option. But damn, this is hard and the Kryptonite creeps up on me at unexpected moments. I am angry. I am sad. I feel alone. I don’t understand why this had to happen. I’m jealous of normal people. My moods change at the drop of a hat. I’ve questioned something I never thought I would at such a young age – am I going to live? And these are just emotions. This isn’t what I’ve gone through physically this year. But because I’ve kept a smile on my face and love laughing, you must think, “She’s ok.” I can tell you right now that I will be ok, but I’m not right now. I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person staring back at me. Not because my hair is gone, which of course doesn’t help. But there’s something missing in my eyes. A spark I fear I will never get back. I feel as if I’m slipping away.
I’ve been finding myself not being able to express my feelings lately to those closest to me, much less the world. We all have a thing. That which we talk most about. Whether it’s your kids, job, spouse, cat or dog (or sometimes in rare cases, both), or for those negative people out there – everything just sucks. For me, I’m the cancer girl right now. That’s what I got. And I find myself not knowing how to talk to people anymore. CANCER is like the elephant in the room. Obviously I have to talk about it somewhat because it is who I am right now but I don’t want to talk about it so much to the point where no one wants to be around me. So for the most part, I do what I do which is smile and laugh and act like it’s not a big deal. But it is and I have no idea how to find that balance right now.
I’ve always been good about reading people so I can tell when people don’t want to talk about my condition or maybe it’s them feeling uncomfortable. Cancer has a way of bringing out the best or worst in those around you. When I was in the hospital and recently out, my support network was amazing. Now that I’m temporarily feeling better and waiting (with the greatest nervousness of my life) for a bone marrow transplant, my support system has dwindled. I get it. People have lives. Out of sight, out of mind. I realize that that’s human nature. What can I expect? People aren’t living this every day like I am. I’ve asked myself a lot lately, how would I be if I were on the other side? The pre-cancer Michele would most likely be the same way. I’m finding though that I just about need more support now then when I was in the hospital. Let’s face it…I was so doped up, I can’t remember half the visits. The smallest gestures mean the world to me right now. My husband reminds me that people aren’t mind readers so I’m working on being more vocal. This blog being my first step to letting those who care about me know what I’m going through.
2014 – The year of the big suck
I believe the reason for my emo attitude of late has so much to do with the fact that we’re in the waiting period. The next step is a bone marrow transplant. I received what I thought was good news about a month ago. I was told I had 19 preliminary donors that match me perfectly. I thought, “19! That seems like a great number.” Come to find out, some people have into the thousands. I was then told that I have an odd genetic code. So I’m hoping and praying that my doctors find a donor before my leukemia decides to come back. Yes, I’m on a pill right now to keep the leukemia at bay but it’s a race against time. It certainly doesn’t help that the past few days I’ve been having intense pain in my legs. If you read my first blog, that was the symptom that finally sent me into the hospital. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it’s still scary.
I have faith and know that my team of wonderful doctors will find me a donor. But that’s the other hard part I’ve been dealing with. The fact that the worst is still yet to come. And after everything I’ve already been through this year. That’s hard to swallow and I’m scared. The entire process I still have to go through can last up to a year or longer. Curious to see why that long? Yeah, I was too. You can find more info on Be The Match.
Shout Out to Franklin County, VA
I do know that I am extremely fortunate with the support system I’ve had since this happened. My family, husband, close friends, old friends, and even complete strangers. My faith in humanity has been restored and I have a love for people more than I’ve ever felt before. I was blown away when I found out that my hometown of Franklin County, VA had planned a fundraiser for me. A few of my 2001 high school classmates are on the planning committee. I haven’t seen or talked to most of these people in 10+ years. I was touched beyond belief. My family and I decided to attend the event in June barring any unforeseen health issues. I contacted Tabitha Jones Eitner, my classmate who started the fundraiser, to make sure it was alright for me to be there. I want to be able to thank people in person for their kindness. I still couldn’t understand though why people would do something like that for someone they barely remember. Tabitha said, “You have a lot of support behind you and we are all praying for a full remission. You don’t have to thank anyone for this, we did it because we wanted to. I know if the roles were reversed, you guys would do it for me. That’s what makes classmates so special.” And that right there is the beauty and charm of growing up in a small town.
Light at the end of the tunnel
So now my secret is out. I have plenty of weaknesses even though I am strong. I am brave even though I’m scared. I have faith even if I have questioned God. I am happy even though I’m sad. I am happy because I am still alive at the moment. I am making my mess my message. (Stolen from Robin Roberts.) Thank you to those who have found me inspiring because you are a main reason why I haven’t just given up. You have given me a new found path in my life and that is what keeps me going.
|That’s me posing with Rick on one of my bad days.|
We’ve just finished watching the final season of Walking Dead, one of my favorite shows. Everything I watch now takes on more meaning and I feel like the show is teaching me. Like how to truly kill a zombie, you have to get them in the head. Or you must be ready to do whatever to protect your family and those you love. But something that Beth said in this last season really stuck with me. “If you don’t have hope, what’s the point in living?” I have hope. I have hope that everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. I also agree with Mika’s mom. “Everything works out the way it’s suppose to.” I have to believe that everything I’m going through right now has a purpose and I will see that one day.