“How are you feeling?”, they ask quite often lately.
I visibly squirm while searching for the most honest answer, tip toeing on the line between encouraging positivity and the frustrating reality that is my physical deterioration. What do you MEAN by “FEELING”, goes the dialogue in my head. Are we talking about physically? Are we talking emotionally?
Either way, I could answer as positively as I could negatively, and in that I don’t know where to go…or how to best answer.
I don’t want to be a downer or seem as if I’m playing a dying card for sympathy or self-loathing, but I don’t wanna gloss over the reality of cancer with some campaign slogan about “fighting back” or “staying strong” either. In reality, everything is everything. The emotional and physical pendulum seems to have split down the middle and simultaneously swung to either side…then got stuck at their mutual crests.
To help answer that question though.
I’m awesome. Fantastically awesome. I’m running. I’m riding. I’m taking inspired trips to the trails down south and running for an hour and a half, an hour and forty minutes just as soon as the sun breaks the horizon. I’m strong and getting stronger, building callouses on my deteriorated feet where blisters once hobbled me. I’m running longer and longer, with more to keep going. I’m motivated, inspired and encouraged, relaunching my “campaign of mutual inspiration” through Legs & Lungs, on a creative tear with graphic design, video creations and ideas that are pouring out of me faster than I can keep up. I’m more and more confident in my daily responsibilities that I feel my pre-cancer abilities are back to the fullest extent. I just….I’m just awesome, excited about life…and even debating running a marathon. Yes, I’m THAT awesome.
I’m scared all the same. I’ve added more mileage to my running routines, but wake up without the hunger that used to follow such a noted increase in exertion. In fact, I’m not hungry much at all and when I am it takes very little to fill me up, often leaving me with that distinct feeling of discomfort as the food digests and works its way through my intestines, causing me to pause and cringe as it binds up, becomes blocked and forces its way through my body. And that scares me, because after a second look at my last CT scan by some doctors up North, they confirmed the lack of cancer regression and the continued presence of the mucin pushing against my pancreas. What scares me though, is the possibility that the mucin might be accumulating again, slowly filling my abdomen again and cutting off my ability to eat normal portions of food or do so without complication and pain. Last time everything shut down within days and I was left relatively incapacitated until the surgery date was scheduled. So yeah, even not addressing all the continued issues related to chemotherapy treatments, I’m not doing awesome at all. In fact, I’m really worried. REALLY worried.
To temper my concern though, I don’t ACTUALLY know what’s going on inside me right now and I don’t mean to be unnecessarily alarmist. My next CT scan is coming up and I SHOULD know the results at my next chemo treatment, which will clarify my concern one way or another (I hope), but all these problems I’m having might still be related to chemo accumulation and as weird as it is to say…I hope it is. Cancer is, if anything, an appreciation of the lesser of two evils. “I hope it’s not THAT kind of cancer.” “I hope it’s the problems associated with chemo and not cancer.” Weird things to hope for, huh?
So yeah, I’m really worried that my body is slowly reverting back to the state it was just before diagnosis and I’m watching the pendulum viciously swing to THAT side of the median, but then I’m also in the process of building my life back to when I felt the strongest, and although I have a long way to go to still, I’m heading in the right direction…and the pendulum breaks free and swings back.
As the individual in the center of these polar opposites, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if I’m good. I don’t know if I’m bad. I don’t know where to place my efforts, where to concentrate my emotional energies, where to even begin. I’m just doing what comes to me day after day and waiting for more clinical checkups to help give me more information to work from, because right now the signs I’m getting are fundamentally opposed…and I’m not good working from this point. I need a LITTLE more guidance.
So yeah, I’m sorry if, when you ask me how I’m doing, I shuffle and stutter in my response. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer, but I’ve come to learn that cancer doesn’t offer much in the way of being cut and dry. There are far too many unknowns and the only thing you can be sure of is that everything will shift and change frequently, leave you confused and wavering, and ultimately just play itself out on its own terms….we’re mostly just along for the ride.
So how am I? I don’t know…you’re going to have to be more specific. Ask me after lunch and I’ll tell you one thing. Ask me on the trails and I’ll tell you another. And until I’m given more to work from….this is the best I can do.