Why I’m Not Celebrating the End of Chemo
“Rebecca, are you sure you don’t have any breast cancer in your family?” The second time that question had been asked during my biopsy, I knew in that moment that the question confirmed all my fears.
I quickly responded, “What the heck, I’m not even 30 yet, are you sure?!” Between that, the nurse squeezing my hand slightly tighter and tighter and a few very awkward/inappropriate attempts at jokes by yours truly, I found out very quickly how I deal with things while in shock.
Fast forward through quite possibly the worst six weeks of my life, which involved lots of waiting for results from numerous tests and scans, to today – I have received negative test results on all known genetic mutations, done chemotherapy and a “no evidence of abnormalities” MRI scan – it’s me, the Rebecca with no hair, missing three nails while the rest are bruised and barely holding on, and a heck of a lot of anxiety, which I swear is the beginning of PTSD.
I often thought about this day and how I would ring that bell and celebrate the end of my chemotherapy, because why not? – it’s a pretty big milestone, right? I rang the bell, I was happy, don’t get me wrong, but a new fear arrived. I cried the entire way to the vehicle, cried all the way home. Luckily, my wonderful boyfriend reminded me how strong I had been and how the first part is over and that it is a time to be happy about what I achieved and to look forward to the next steps, which was surgery and radiation.
I couldn’t get my head there, I was stuck in this weird limbo – I knew my surgery was coming up but not for another 4 to 6 weeks. I even asked my oncologist, “What do I do? What can I do?” She simply said, “Live your life.” But I honestly don’t think I know how to do that anymore…
Being done chemotherapy feels like I lost a sense of control, again. While getting injected with a cancer-killing cocktail of drugs every three weeks gave me a sense of security – now what? There are so many ‘what if’s’!! I find myself most days just sitting there getting so caught up in my thoughts, these dark, dark thoughts about worst-case scenarios, my biggest fears, all of it.
All the emotions I felt at the beginning of this chapter came rushing back, I was waiting again. Waiting for more test results, waiting for phone calls, just simply waiting. On top of that, I became overwhelmed with post-treatment thoughts – if I can’t even handle waiting between treatments how the heck am I going to do any of this after treatment?
I made the decision to seek therapy – to get a hold of these overwhelming feelings before they fully take control and maybe once this is all done I can, like my oncologist once said, “live my life.”
I thought I was prepared for this battle, but it turns out no one can prepare for the biggest part of this, the mental battle. – Rebecca Watt