I feel like I’m living a double life. In the fresh a.m., I’m happy-go-lucky mom, making fruit smoothies, packing lunch, checking that everyone has their stuff, and driving off to school. As soon as I get home, the race is on... healthy breakfast, shower, and I’m off to radiation and for the rest of the early day, I’m a patient, a cancer patient, I’m consumed with test results, medical appointments, worry, complications, discomfort, but as soon as it’s 3:00, I’m carefree mom again, listening to everyone else's troubles, pestering about homework, and healthy eating, comforting, feeding, and despite how I look, there is no indication that I have any other role, any other life. I try to keep my lives disconcertingly separate, but one wafts over to the next, in my mind, in my heart, and it’s scary and it’s sad and I feel like it’s all a big masquerade, but what else do you do? How do you reconcile the two? No one at home is willing to acknowledge my other life, it's their way of coping I suppose, and I go along with the lie.
For the past year, It’s been one phase of diagnosis and treatment after another. Radiation, hideous burn/rash notwithstanding, has offered me a routine where I know what to expect and know what I can do with the rest of my day and the end was in sight. I’ve never been particularly routine-oriented, but now I crave it. I found out last Friday that increasingly abnormal blood test results require further looking in to. While I’m used to being poked and prodded and trotting off to one medical building to the next, I can’t bear starting a new phase of wait and worry, wait and see, a new phase of diagnosis and god forbid treatment. None the less, I’ll obediently march to my myriad appointments, put my life, or what I delude myself into believing is my life, on hold a little longer, what choice do I have? I guess once a cancer patient, always a cancer patient, that’s the new identity, new reality, I have to adjust to, accept, acclimate, whether I see myself this way or not, whether my children see me this way or not, it is what it is, I can’t pretend otherwise forever. Cancer treatment isn’t benign, it isn’t finite, while it “cures” one thing, it sets other balls in motion, it's a chain reaction, a labyrinth with no end, it is the rest of your life. This is a hard realization, a difficult thing to accept.
I had the nicest weekend with my kids. Farms, friends, corn maze, french fries and pie. Movie night and yahtzee, pancakes, and ping-pong, but tomorrow the duality begins anew as I drop off at school and head out for an MRI. Never thought I'd miss my port, but damn, the one thing I hate is IV's stuck in my hand, which come complimentary with an MRI... wouldn't have known that a year ago. There's a lot I wouldn't have known a year ago.