Cancer is a 4-letter word and sleepless nights (and days).

Just about everyone in my family has had (or has) cancer. My grandmother had colon cancer 40 years ago. My grandfather had prostate cancer just this year. When I was younger I used to "joke" saying that I would probably die from cancer or that I would probably get cancer in a few years. Little did I know I would be at least half right. Cancer has never been funny, I never thought it was funny, I have always thought that it was the scariest thing ever, but had I known exactly how scary it would be I would have never joked about how I would probably get it.
When I was first told that I had melanoma I was confused, scared, nervous, and angry. Whenever I thought of CANCER I had always thought about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia. I had never really thought about skin cancer. Your skin is the largest organ that you have. It protects all of your other organs. You can't live without your skin. Not only that but my skin has been my canvas. I am almost scared to get any more tattoos now.
I feel like everyone knows someone who has had melanoma. Generally all of those people had the area of skin removed and were fine, that was it, so in a way I feel like a lot of people don't realize how serious or aggressive the cancer can be. I know people were just trying to make me feel better, but I feel like a lot of my fears got dismissed at first and I was told that I would be fine because so and so knew someone who had it and they were fine and they didn't need surgery, etc. I tried to remain positive, I told myself everything would be fine and that it was localized just to my chest and once I got the margin area removed then it would be fine. Too many people have had it and been fine, so why would I be one of the people that it had spread on? Not me. My life has been too hard for me to have to deal with something like that NOW.
So I finally had Elijah, and I finally scheduled my surgery. The surgery was a lot more invasive and intense then I was imagining. I think that a lot of people were surprised at how severe it was. I don't think anyone was expecting something of this stature.
I kept telling myself my lymph nodes would come back fine. I mean, almost everyone else who has had this has been fine, so I HAVE to be fine, right? Unfortunately cancer doesn't care how hard your life has been, or if the timing is "right" (can there even be a right time for cancer? no) or not. The pathology reports came back and there was indeed cancer, albeit a small amount, in one of my lymph nodes. Small amount or not, it was there, and that's enough to be classified as a stage 3, and enough to have to go through scans and treatment.
Cancer is cancer. I have cancer. I am back at the stage where I don't have any answers. This is the worst stage to be at because not only do I not know the extent of it, but I don't know what's next. It could be localized, or I could have it somewhere else. I might need to do an interferon drug treatment, or I might need to do chemo. I don't know, there are no answers yet. The only thing that I have an answer to is whether or not cancer is scary. The answer to that is yes, it's the scariest thing I have ever been through, and I have been through some scary shit.
As much as I used to say that I would get cancer at some point in my life, I didn't believe it would actually happen to me. No one thinks it will happen to them, but it does happen, and it happens to a lot of people. Cancer does not care how old you are or how healthy you are. It doesn't care what color you are or where you live, how much money or how poor, whether you have health insurance or not. Cancer just does not care.
This whole experience has shown me that there are people who really care though, and that's a beautiful and wonderful thing. People that I hardly know have offered help, brought us food, offered rides. I can't express enough appreciation. It's made everything so much easier for Jason and I. Adjusting to a newborn is hard enough without throwing cancer into the mix.

It's taken me well over an hour and a half to write this entry so far. I have a 3 week old infant who has suddenly become fussy this past week. He went from being a sleepy infant to an extremely awake infant. It's hard, it's really hard. I have cried a few times from pure frustration. I am only frustrated when he cries and I can't figure out why. Is he hungry? Seemingly yes, he's always hungry, but sometimes when I nurse him he gets super fussy and pushes me away, but screams because he is hungry but isn't eating yet, but he's pushing me away! What do I do in this situation!? I keep trying until he latches on, but then rinse and repeat. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough that it has me completely exhausted. There's nothing wrong with our nursing, he latches great, my breasts have milk, he's getting fed, he's just FUSSY.
He's had gas lately. I am sure that's uncomfortable and I am sure that's making him fussy sometimes. But what do I do!? I got some gripe water and tried giving that to him but he spit up after. That's another issue, he's been spitting up a lot.
It's just a lot. I know that it won't be like this forever, but it's like this now, and I am tired. Jason has to work so he can't get up all night to change diapers, and he can't feed Elijah anyway. He does pretty good at night, but then 6am rolls around and like clockwork the fussiness starts.
It will get better, but this parenting thing is hard. The one misconception I had was that it would just come naturally. A lot of it does, but it's a huge learning process and you need to work to get it right.


A Baby Peach said...

My heart breaks for you. Cancer IS scary and it's so unfair. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Not that anyone deserve it of course, but you clearly seem like you do not, esp. with having your beautiful new family to enjoy and adjust to. I hope everyone starts to feel better soon and I hope you kick cancer's ass!

ashley said...

hi. i'm in your due date club on mdc (cascademama) but i'm stil pregnant! i found your blog there and have been reading for a month or so. i just wanted to let you know that another stranger across the country (and i'm sure there are SO SO many of us) is thinking about you, and your husband and your sweet new son, and sending all the positive thoughts and good vibes and caring intentions a person can. melanoma IS scary shit. i'm so glad it seems like you have a good support system to see you through to the other side (a beautiful new immediate family and a huge community of others willing to help). if there's ever anything another mama can do from across the country, don't hesitate to ask!

nicoolio said...

I forgot that Jason's fam is in town- I was all, "Hey, I wonder what happened to Jessica online the last coupla days?" :)

I think people always want to tell someone in your position that it will be alright. I've never known anyone with melanoma, but I know several people who went through some form of cancer treatment in the last year. Let's see, 7 including you, and I might be forgetting someone in there. You ain't kiddin' when you talk about Cancer having no prejudices... But seriously, I think a lot of folks don't know how to handle news of that calibre. I know when the shit hit the fan for me a lot of my friends at the time were so scared themselves that they just tried to put a positive spin on it however they could. My all time least favorite line, "There's a reason for everything".

Uh, yeah. That makes it all better, thanks. And BTW, how the crap can anyone even purport to know that?

Anyways, I'll be right here on the other end of a telephone if ya need somethin'! Oh, and I'll go check the food queue now to see what this week's lookin' like for you guys...


Mrs. Goodson...Woo Hoo!! said...

I am so very sorry to hear that you are going through this...I will say a prayer for you & your family. Try to keep your chin up.

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