Saturday, December 3, 2011

For Better or Worse.

It's getting harder and harder to keep up to date over here.  But I promise not to give up.  Just might need a little extra time in between posts from here on out, and when they come, they will probably be LONGER.  Bear with me.  :)

Now, let's rewind to Thursday...

I started out the morning talking about how tired I have become.  And then I headed off to work.  Where I had a panic attack over the fact that there was a client up in the gallery sniffling and coughing.  See, I totally cannot get sick right now.  Not only would that end up delaying my treatments, but because my white blood cell count is so low, the flu at this point could literally kill me.  That's more than a little scary, no?  In the midst of worrying about that, I sort of realized that this whole putting on a brave face and working through this whole thing is just not in the cards for me, no matter how much I had hoped it would be.

That afternoon, after my radiation appointment, I completely broke down during a chat with my mum in the hallway of the cancer center.  After much crying, we came to the conclusion that I would go in to work on Friday, tie up whatever loose ends I could, and then accept the fact that I was officially out of commission until this is over.  (Or at least has moved on to phase two.)  It was a difficult decision for me to come to.  I wanted to be so strong.  I wanted it to be effortless and to glide through the entire thing graceful and powerful and, I dunno... ethereal or above it all or some shit.  Well, no.  Not this time, Ms. Nelson.

As mum and I sat there sniffling, one of the Radiation Oncology nurses, Jennifer, came out.  I love Jennifer.  She is always smiling, always sweet.  She's like a little ball of sunshine dressed in white.  She is everything that a nurse should be (and I'm not just saying all of this because we told her about my blog and I know she reads it [Hi, Jennifer!]).  When we told her what we were talking about, her response made my day.  She said that it was ok to be wiped out.  That it did not mean that I am not strong.  "Look at you," she said. "You're beautiful."  Hearing that from this sweet (and beautiful, herself) woman while feeling as dumpy and scuzzy and awkward as can be... it really did turn my day around.  So, a big thanks to Jennifer.  And a big hug to all of my friends who either are nurses or are working toward becoming nurses.  You are all SO amazing.

Soooo.... after all this, I wake up Friday morning - and I realize there is NO way in hell I can make it to work.  I feel terrible.  I'm exhausted.  Vaguely nauseated.  In all manner of pain and discomfort.  It breaks my heart to call my boss and try to explain to him that I have to throw in the towel for a while.  His response?  "We'll be here whenever you're ready."  I cried for a good half hour after I hung up the phone.  Every day, I am amazed. Every day I feel more and more grateful.  If I worked at some bullshit framing chain like Pat Catan's or something - I'd probably already be unemployed.  Applying for Cobra.  Terrified.  Instead, I work at an amazing place where I am truly part of a family.  Where I am cared about and loved and understood - not just as an employee, but as a person.  Pretty incredible.

Anyhow, in addition to Friday being day one of my no longer being able to work... it was also the one month anniversary of my diagnosis.  That's it.  Just one month, and all this has happened.  One month, and I'm more than halfway through my treatments. Pretty crazy.

Friday was another anniversary, as well... it was Ryan's and my 2nd wedding anniversary.  I know that when I stood there, in the corner of the Happy Dog with just a few close friends, and I uttered the words "in sickness and in health"... I had no idea what those words would ultimately mean or how incredibly lucky I would be to have Ryan by my side "in sickness".  Because he has been completely amazing and I could not be more in love with or more in awe of him every single day.

Oh!  And one MORE thing to celebrate on Friday...  there's a woman who has been on the same treatment track as me.  We see her every Monday at chemotherapy and my folks, who arrive early to radiation to wait for me every day, see here there about a half hour before my appointment each day.  Her name is Carla, and Friday was her last day of external radiation before she heads downtown, as I will, for brachy therapy.  My folks see her more than I do, and having interacted with her almost daily over the past several weeks, they wanted to acknowledge her on her last day of treatment.  So they got her a pretty little vase of red and white gerber daisies and berries.  Very Christmas-y and sweet.  We all showed up early and waited.  She came in and went back for her last treatment, and then when she came back out, we all stood and clapped and I gave her the flowers.  I probably cried a little, too.  I could tell it meant a lot to her and that the staff was all really touched by what we'd done, too.

My parents are truly amazing people.  My mum joked a week or so ago about how she and my step-dad needed to do something fun with me to make it into the blog.  I had to laugh and shake my head.  Every single entry in this blog is in some way about them.  About how inspiring they are, how helpful, how loving and supportive.  Every entry is about the person I have grown up to be BECAUSE of them and of who they have always been to me.  If I did not have them in my life, I have no idea how I would be getting through all of this, or to be perfectly honest, through ANYTHING I have struggled with over the years.  I keep thinking of all of the incredible people I am meeting on this journey - the ladies in green, the Jennifers, the Carlas... and I forget that for some - the incredible people THEY are meeting on their journeys... are MY parents.

How lucky am I?

Xxo, Phoebe

2 comments:

jim nelson said...

You are LUCKY, to have them as your parents, and so am I! KUDOS to Nan and Gary! I am soooo grateful to them for providing you with a foundation to become the strong, courageous woman that you are. Love....jim

Nora Flanagan said...

Sittin' at my kitchen table here in Chicago, gettin' weepy at how amazing you are. Your nurse is right -- your strength is inherently beautiful, no matter how greenish-gray this bullshit has left you looking/feeling.