I feel guilty for not being at my best, for having appointments, for feeling vaguely crappy with no outwardly discernible reason. I feel guilty for taking time to take care of myself, either physically or emotionally. I don’t like feeling guilty. I’m trying not to.
I have this annoying feeling of pressure on the right side of my esophagus. It is merely annoying at this point. I feel it more some days than others. It affects my singing voice more than anything else. If the tumor keeps growing, I imagine it could become more problematic. But that’s what chemotherapy is for.
I feel like I’m walking around in stealth-cancer mode all the time. On the train, shopping for a pumpkin, in restaurants, on the street — I feel as though I’m somehow lying to all these random strangers. Not that I think they need to know, but that I might be hiding something from them. And it makes me wonder who else is walking around with their own stealth-cancer…
I also feel that because I’ve got this comparatively easy-to-cure cancer, I don’t really have much reason or excuse to complain about things. Not that I’ve really felt much like complaining, but on the occasions when I have I start to feel like I don’t have a bad enough cancer to complain about it. Yeah, that’s kind of sad actually, now that I think about it. I should probably let myself complain once in a while.
Sometimes I seem to act a bit disconnected and distant from reality, and from people close to me. I don’t always notice it, and when I do I try to bring myself back, but it can be hard. I’m easily distracted. From what I’ve read in my chemo literature, this may happen more often once I’m in active treatment. It’s even got a name: chemo-brain. Yay.
Fatigue comes and goes. I still can’t always tell if it’s parental fatigue or cancer fatigue. It might be both.
There are days when I feel generally down. Those are the days I’m most disconnected, and the days where I’m pretty sure if a friend gave me a hug it’s possible I might start crying on their shoulder. Not because of anything specific… just the pressure of dealing with all of this stuff. It builds up over time, and then I can feel the depression I used to handle daily trying to creep its way back into my life. This can last a day, or two, or three, but eventually I remember that I know how to fight that feeling; I have the emotional tools, and I spent years honing them.
Maybe it’s a good thing I had those years of depression and therapy and building support networks and figuring out how to use them. I’m equipped now to take care of myself, and to know how to ask for the things that I need to help me off the edge of that ravine. Not that I think it was good I was depressed; more that I feel like since I survived that, and all the things combined that put me there, then cancer treatment is going to be easy and straightforward — because it’s real, it’s tangible, it can’t be waved away as just being stupid emotions.
But I suppose that’s all I’ve noticed so far. I expect the side-effects of chemotherapy to be interesting.