I have never before experienced such a darkness as I have this week.
Every day driving to the cancer centre now makes me physically sick, walking into the elevator and the doors opening at 3a is enough to make me pass out. The sights, the smells, the sounds. Anything I eat there makes my stomach churn, if I see another bowl of soup or a sandwich in the next ten years it’s too soon. The smell of alcohol wipes makes me gag and I can’t clean my car windscreen without feeling nauseous as it smells like the fluid they use to clean my picc line. I can no longer tolerate the nurses happy disposition and patronising comments, I just want to scream at them “have you had cancer” All week I’ve had a heavy black monster hanging off me dragging me down and nothing could have shifted it. I dont want to speak to anyone, I dont want to get out of bed, I just want to hide away and hibernate. All the events over the last 4 months have built up and suddenly just crashed on me all at once. I feel like I can’t breath, I feel suffocated with the pressure of not having a choice in any of this.
The treatment I’m about to undergo tomorrow is what I believe has triggered my anxiety. Tomorrow I will have my first brachytherapy. For those of you who do not know what this is….. it’s also known as internal radiation. Until I was diagnosed with cancer I did not know what this was or what it entailed, so for anyone else who doesn’t know exactly what it means I’ll briefly explain. Tomorrow I’ll be taken to theatre and either given a general anaesthetic or a spinal anaesthetic (general I’ll be asleep, spinal I’ll be awake) then I will have three metal “applicators” which to anyone other than a dr, looks like metal rods inserted into my cervix. These will be kept in place with stitches. After this I will be bed bound until the procedure is complete. I will have a catheter inserted and then taken for a mri scan to ensure they are in the right position. Next I will be taken back to theatre, have the radiation delivered through the “applicators” then the applicators will be removed. The process from start to finish will take approximately 4-5 hours during this time I won’t be allowed to see anyone other than medical staff and I won’t be able to get out of bed. This will be repeated three times in seven days.
Anyone I have spoken to about this have all quoted the same exact response “awk it’s not as bad as you think” to which I feel like replying by saying then let’s get you into theatre see how you feel about it then. Everyone thinks I’m scared of the procedure because of pain. This is not the case, pain is temporary it will soon pass. I’ve delivered babies, sat through hours of tattoo appointments I’m not bothered by pain. What everyone fails to realise and understand is that this treatment tomorrow will take away another little part of me. The part of me that can have babies. The part of me that defines me as a woman. It will rob me of the female hormones I’ve blamed for mood swings since being a teenager. This treatment will start the menopause and change my life for ever. I would take all the pain bearable if it meant this wasn’t taken from me. This is just one guaranteed side effect the others include internal scaring and lesions bladder and bowel conditions. Some of these side effects won’t pass, some will be life long.
I have been so tempted so many times to refuse this treatment. Each time though I’ve been told the harsh reality that if I don’t have this treatment I will not be cured. I have thought long and hard about what that would mean and the simple answer is I would die. If I’m not cured, I will die. Might take a few months might take a few years but no matter what the outcome would remain the same. I can not leave my two wonderful little children without a mum, I simply will not allow them to experience the sadness that loosing me would bring them. I need to be their mum for a long time yet. So tomorrow no matter what it means for my future I just need to do it. My children won’t care if I have internal scaring, they won’t care that I can’t have more babies, they won’t care if I’m left with a bowel condition. They will just care that I’m still here, that I’m still their mum. So tomorrow no matter what happens be it panic attacks, fainting, vomiting I just need to get into that theatre and get it done. The picture of their little faces will constantly be in my mind to get me through. I will daydream about one day taking them to Disney land and watching their eyes light up at the sights. I will think of the bed time stories and the school plays that I must be present for.
I will hope and pray for the day that I become a granny and get to hold a little bundle of joy that’s a little part of me.
All these things will get me through anything that is to come. I may just need reminding in the darkest times.