First off, I’m still waiting for thyroglobulin results. I finally read the letter of my test results and it said my count was almost 400… thhaattt can’t be right… Anything above a 20 means there is a higher chance for my cancer to come back, but the rest of my test results indicates that 366 isn’t correct. They have to wait a while to retest.
Second, thank you to everyone who has donated to my relay for life fund! I really appreciate everyone coming together for this wonderful cause! I’m trying to reach my goal of $500 dollars, but ultimately I just want them to find a cure for cancer haha it’s a pain in the neck!
Every time I leave my Death and Dying class I have a new thing to post about. I believe this course has really helped me deal with my journey in terms of the “grand scheme of things”. In lecture on Tuesday, we discussed the stages of grief.
Now, before I dive into my weekly class revelations, let me explain the basics of grief and profound loss.
- A profound loss is any sort detrimental loss of a loved one or any lost aspect of the self. These can be sudden events, traumatic, slow progressing events or a combination of these factors.
- Grief is the deep sorrow/ range of emotions a person deals with during and after the event. Grief can be associated with a death of a child, parent, a life threatening diagnosis, car accident, and other occurrences that do not always lead to death but are considered a profound loss to the individual.
- Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ On Death and Dying, discusses the grieving process in a cyclical fashion. There are five major stages of grieving: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Each individual deals with these in a unique way based on each event and the situational/emotional factors that come with it. Not all feelings are included, stages can be expressed with one or more, or can be revisited at any point. For example, you can accept one aspect of someone’s death and yet still be in denial about how your relationship was.
We went on to talk about physical and mental factors that are associated with grieving: one of which was social withdrawal. *BING* it was like the light bulb went off in my brain. I had been telling my mom and a few other’s that I have been acting like Switzerland- just kind of off in my own neutral territory and yet I’m still feeling deep emotions I can’t seem to describe. This phrase summed it up and gave my feelings a name- I’m angry.
Here is a little back story to help explain. Okay.. it’s actually a large one hahah.
Last February, I broke up with my middle school boyfriend. We had been on and off for 7 years. Through High school and a good portion of college, we were able to maintain our relationship while figuring out what we wanted independently. Along with my ex-boyfriend, I had a few really close friends who helped me start to grow up. Then college came, and those friends went off and did there own thing- leaving just the two of us. We developed a really fantastic friendship on top of our relationship. He was my only confidant and helped me through transferring from RWU and life’s other curve balls. We broke up and got back together several times- which is really emotional in itself. February was more of a permanent break up. So, I felt like I was starting from zero. Who is Taylor as a single unit and not in a relationship? What do I like? What are my needs and my fears and my dreams as an independent person? I was calling my own shots and working on who I wanted to be. Long relationships end with grieving (which is normal and healthy) and I was having a hard time because it was finally just me on my own.
Any who, we had made tentative plans over the summer to catch up and see how the other was doing. Unfortunately, I hadn’t found a good way to inform him about my diagnosis and surgery before he decided to stop by one day to say hello- the day after post op! It just kind of happened! I didn’t mean for it to be that way. He took the news very well and did his best to be my friend, but we weren’t at that point just yet. What I had hoped for in a friend, ended with him deciding he needed to remove me from his life in order to move on. I totally understood, it was just a lot to handle at the time.
Now, as I’ve made jokes about before, telling people you have cancer is difficult and a sensitive subject. What I didn’t say at that time was how a person’s response can come across as offensive. People said things out of fear or shock, trying to protect themselves. That’s natural. But… It’s still hard to hear things like “I’m glad you’re not dead” or “I thought you were going to say you had 6 months to live or something”, “How can make a joke about this?” and so on. It kind of diminishes the fact I still have cancer and makes me feel self conscious about trying to make this a big deal like it should be. I was really expecting… more so hoping for a completely different response than the one I got.
With the energy and feedback I was receiving from people, I decided that maybe this was a good time put myself and my healing process first. Over the summer, I really tried to just stay on autopilot and get everything ready for school. I made appointments without even emotionally processing the meaning of them. I felt that it was time for me to recede into my room and my bed to tend to some emotional processing- which I’ve never been good at. Even after the surgery, I was still exhausted. I had to catch up on real sleep, friends, school and myself. Something was going to fall to the wayside, and I guess I thought it could be my social circle. All my life I kind of put others before myself. My life was second. But hey, I’m a 20-year-old senior with cancer, I guess I assumed that people would understand if my healing process extended beyond a surgical scar. I didn’t realize I shouldn’t be assuming thing about others’ thoughts and feelings. Should I have continued putting people first and my problems second? Putting myself second would have suppressed my own feelings and made my emotional recovery a lot harder to deal with. But if I was second, would my social life still feel as vacant?
I thought I was over my anger. I was never actually angry at my cancer, expect maybe that time I thought I had to get treatment on my 21st birthday. I had forgiven my ex-boyfriend for the choices he needed to make in order to be happy and had been moving past it. My anger doesn’t stem from then, it stems from now. I’m angry because at times I feel insignificant. My battle cry is falling on deaf ears. When people don’t think about things they say, it can come across as inappropriate and undermining. It kind of seems that if my cancer can’t be treated seriously, neither can I. I won’t have cancer forever, but the lessons I have learned from this journey will be incorporate into how I live out the rest of my life. It’s frustrating to have something happen like this that takes a hold of your life. I believe in equal reciprocity in friendship and relationships of all kinds. Major life events happen (both good and bad) to people all the time and sometimes at the same time.
I’ve recently been trying to work on forgiving- forgiving people for the ways they may have reacted/treated me and forgiving myself for internalizing something that doesn’t actually have much to do with me. You watch people process your cancer and you can see them almost trying to imagine it was them. I feel like I learned a lot about people by how they faced my news in respect to their own life and struggles. Cancer is scary! It’s okay for people to be afraid and I should have taken that into consideration that not all the people I tell will take it the same way. I’ve been putting on a strong front and people think that I’m just fine. I’m not very good at being vulnerable, but this blog has helped me kinda just put my feelings out there for people to read and interpreted. I try to be factual with my friends and give them the medical updates, but the emotional concerns must be put on the back burner or something. Someone recently told me “I don’t tell them things, therefore they don’t know anything”. It’s really important to ask someone how they are, it makes them feel valued.
Just the daily struggles we all face in becoming the people we were meant to be I guess.
In other news- my scar has gotten so small! I’ve been using aloe cream and vitamin E oil on it every now and then.
Nine days until my half marathon!