3 years out since my last active cancer treatment and even though we had a wonderful weekend … when I took time to think about it … I couldn’t believe how many times cancer crossed my mind. Our family finally had a semi-quiet weekend; three kids in multiple activities and that rarely happens. The strangeness that is the weekend between fall sports ending and winter sports beginning. The weekend of scrambling trying to get things winterized, fall leaves cleaned up (we have a forest in our backyard), switching summer to winter clothes and figuring out who needs new winter gear (everyone.)
Last Wednesday, I sat in the waiting room at my old stomping grounds waiting for news that a friend’s surgery went well. The surgery center at the Nebraska Medical Center has a particular smell and it was actually difficult crossing the threshold even though the rational part of me knew I wasn’t the one having surgery. It was a relatively quick surgery and everything went beyond smoothly, but I now know a little of the worry that my family must feel in the waiting room. The clock ticking by ever so slowly and freaking out just a little every time the lady at the desk comes overhead for an announcement. Trying to concentrate on a book, but it is really just a meaningless gesture of page turning.
Back to the smells. Eight years ago, I loved Subway. The oven roasted chicken sandwich please. Now, I can’t even walk into the sandwich shop. I refused to eat hospital food during treatment and while friends brought me food in abundance, often I couldn’t’ get anything down except for a smoothie and part of the oven roasted chicken sandwich from Subway. The smell of a Subway can now bring back the memories of long stays in the hospital and I kind of want to puke. I’ve been told others experience these activities in life that remind them on a sensory level of their hardest time in life. I have heard of one patient who after treatment was completed, had to walk in a roundabout door to the hospital to not bring back significant anxiety post treatment.
We bought our highschooler a “new” car this weekend. He was ecstatic, as were Eric and I, but I had to document the moment because a little voice in the back of my head is still floored that I am here to experience this milestone of my eldest son’s life.
The time change on Sunday did not sit well with Addison, my 11-year-old. She was MOODY. In an effort to entertain her and clean out my closet I let her pick out ten of my most “hideous” mom outfits to donate. About one hoodie, she said, this sweatshirt only reminds me of cancer. I replied, “you are absolutely right,” it’s gone. I had a dozen or so “chemo outfits;” clothes that were comfortable and port accessible. I hadn’t worn them even though they were still had name brand cuteness because Addison helped me realized that they also only reminded me of cancer. Good- bye cancer clothes, hello 40-year-old regular mom clothes!
She also appropriately wondered why I owned so many jeans, especially white jeans when she doesn’t see me wear them much. I realized that I feel like white jeans are SO cute on others, but not very practical in MY life. Nebraska weather usually tends to go from parka weather to full blast ninety-degrees. There is usually only 2 weeks of beautiful spring, white jean weather. Then, if I do reach for them, they usually get put right back on the shelf. What if I start my period? More likely, what if I spill my coffee or my kid asks me to sit in the dirt? Practical, not really. Do I still own eight different pairs of white jeans because of the four different sizes I have been over the last eight years? You know I do! The jeans when I was scary chemo skinny, post-partum jeans, pregnancy jeans, getting back to my “normal” size jeans, and the jeans I needed when I realized chemo had stopped and I probably shouldn’t enjoy my nightly bowl of ice cream.
So, I definitely donated the cancer triggering sweats and most of the white jeans. At least the ones that had to deal with pregnancy and the ones that were so tiny they were for a me that is only that skinny on chemo and hoped never to be again. They also needed to be donated because for a long time, my mind started thinking that the overly skinny me was the “normal” me and I was getting “fat” for putting weight back on. It is sucks a mind f**k.
The mind can play crazy ass tricks on you. Especially, when certain situations/things are so closely related to a traumatic experience that you had. Do you have any thing that you 100 percent avoid? Anything that reminds you of a place you never want to return to? Comment below! I think I may not the only one and curious if the mind plays mean tricks on more than just me.
Until next time.