Today I sat through another set of labs, my monthly shot, oncology visit, and Zometa infusion. I sometimes forget how sitting in the hospital for hours on end can be so triggering. That’s the thing about grief though, you never know when it will strike, or what will set you off. I sat in the Buffet Cancer Center infusion waiting room, looking around at all the different people. We all share a common bond, but we are strangers, passing by one another on our way to treatments we didn’t ask for. I was examining the pain, heartache, fatigue, and stress in the faces of my fellow cancer fighters around me. I felt the familiar sting of tears welling up in my eyes. It was a combination of sadness for others that are currently in the trenches of active treatment, relief and thankfulness that I am no longer in that spot, and also mourning for the person I was before. I sat deep in my thoughts when I heard my name called to go back to my room. The same old drill: vitals, reviewing meds and allergies, and verifying what I would be receiving that day ensued. I felt relieved to be back in my own room and out of the waiting area because for some reason the waiting room felt heavy with sadness. I was having an emotional day and the nurse asked a question that she is required to ask and it just sent my heart sinking into my stomach. A simple question like “any chance you could be pregnant?” wouldn’t make most people even blink an eye, but for me sometimes it is like a sucker punch. Hearing the familiar beep of IV pumps, the smell of alcohol wipes, the taste of saline as the nurse flushed my IV, and the deafening silence of the infusion room made me anxious. It felt as if I was back in the thick of it all for a minute. I remembered knowing that I was going to feel awful the next week after each treatment, dreading going in because I was going to be willingly making myself sick to get better. I had to take a deep breath and remember that I have already overcome so much and I’m on the journey to the top of the mountain, to one day be completely done with the pills, shots, and visits. I am so thankful this program has taught me to move forward in life and re-emerge stronger, more grateful, and full of life; but there are also hard days. Yesterday was just one of the hard ones.
I am a pretty straightforward person and I don’t like to just pretend everything is fine and dandy when it isn’t at that moment. That my friends is called toxic positivity. How can positivity be toxic, you ask? Well, if I never express when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the waves of grief or frustrated by the seemingly never-ending medical appointments, pills, and procedures; then I’m not being true to myself. It’s not fun and I don’t enjoy it. I don’t think anyone does! If I’m overly positive and act like nothing in life ever gets me down, eventually I am going to burn myself out and have a crash landing right into a big pile of depression, anxiety and stress. Being a cancer survivor and a thriver doesn’t mean there won’t be bad days, it means you embrace the bad days, use your coping skills to get through the emotional roller coaster that some days bring, and thank God for each moment you get. I was able to snap myself out of my funk and remember how fortunate I truly am, while still validating my emotions. We aren’t all promised another day, hour, or even minute. I am grateful for the life I have and that I am able to express my frustration with the bad days. I am thankful that I get to have excellent medical care and there are medications and treatments that have saved my life, even if they cause frustration and sadness some days. I am thankful that I get to have hard days because we have so many sisters that have been taken from us because of this ugly disease. I know their family members and friends would do anything to be with them again, even on a bad day. Life is tough but so am I. My track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and I’m pretty grateful for that!