Today I have a very weary heart. It happens sometimes. One day I'm waking up ready to charge into battle and face the world with courage and determination to make each day count! And then, suddenly, I wake up the next day and I am feeling worn down and lacking the strength to put on my daily armor that protects my mind and my heart from the wounds that fighting this battle can inflict. I find myself just wanting to rest, to take a break and let my emotions rise to the surface. I feel like my body, my mind and my spirit need these moments. It's an opportunity to rid myself of the emotions that refuse to stay buried because there are so many that eventually there is no longer any room. They burst back up to the surface like an explosion and knock me off my feet. It usually comes out in the form of tears, sadness and a feeling of isolation. These are the days when the reality of my disease hits really hard. My sense of dread, panic and desperation that I thought I'd successfully pounded down into remission finds it's way back to the forefront of my thoughts. Most of the time this happens when I hear of another MBC sister who has passed away. And other times it's because I see everyone going on with their lives with no interruptions and I feel like I'm being left behind already. I can't keep up. It's just too hard. So, I stay behind and try to find new ways to live my life to the fullest.
One place I have found a soft place to fall are in my support groups. I am a member of several wonderful support groups with 1300 and growing Metastatic Breast Cancer sisters... and a few brothers... because men get breast cancer too! In this group we can truly be ourselves. We don't have to hide behind our armor, we don't have to be happy all of the time, we can help each other with those deepest fears that we like to guard from those we love. We don't have to worry about keeping up with each other or being left behind because we are all racing in the same race. We look out for each other and we form a bond that is just as close as if we were family. So, each time we lose someone from the group, it's hard. Today is one of those days... we've lost another member. And even though I never met her personally, I felt this personal connection to her and a personal loss that is hard to put into words. Because her story is my story. Her family's sorrow will one day be my family's sorrow. It's becoming too common for too many people.
Just to give you an idea of how hard it is... since my diagnosis in June 2015 we have lost more than 60 beautiful souls from our group. It is a painful reminder of how quickly this disease can strike and spread and take someone from you. Cancer is such a bitch. It's cruel, and it doesn't care about your feelings or how badly you want to live. Cancer doesn't care how strong you are, it will bring you to your knees at any given moment. It is the most powerless feeling.
You might be wondering why I stay involved in these groups, why I would put myself through the torment. Loss is guaranteed to be a common occurrence in support groups like this. It's simple really... we need each other. We need to be with people who absolutely understand how hard this cancer journey can be. And, as much as everyone tries to be supportive, no one can really understand fully unless they are going through it themselves. I feel a sense of responsibility to help those who are also in my position. I feel a sense of obligation to honor all of those we have lost. It brings me a sense of peace knowing that at the very least I can try to do something to make a difference in the time I have left.
As I've said in earlier posts, the hardest part of this diagnosis is the unknown. When will it be my turn? How much time do I really have? Will I get to see my daughter graduate High School? Will I get to hold my first grandchild? It goes on and on and on...
I know that all of my friends and family want to hear good news, and there will be many times I'm sure that I will be able to give them what they want in small doses. It makes me feel good to be able to say: Today I had a great scan! But, then there are still times like today when I don't have anything good to tell you. Yes, I am doing okay for now, but so many of my sisters and brothers are not. My heart hurts for them, and it also hurts knowing that this is what lies ahead for me when my cancer decides to rear it's ugly head. This is a day where I feel very defeated knowing what lies ahead. Sure, I will shake out of it and find my happy place again. But, there will always be days like today when the weight of it all is too much to bear. Cancer is good that way... always reminding you of who is really in charge and who has the true power over your body.
I don't have any real words of inspiration today... I think today I am in need of someone to offer me inspiration instead. I have to remember that I can't always be this mountain of strength. It is okay to allow myself to grieve not only for those who have passed but also for myself.
If I had any words of wisdom at all it would be the same as always... love sincerely, pray sincerely, offer hope and comfort sincerely. Be truly present in the lives of those around you... it matters more than you know. It is the only thing that matters...