January 31, 2010

the journey of a cancer warrior

this post needs to be done in two parts...

part one...earning the title of cancer warrior
why cancer warrior? because cancer survivor doesn't do it justice...we fight, and we fight hard

so, lately i've felt really, really drained. there's no other way to explain it...i'm just totally, 100% exhausted. this treatment stuff really takes it out of you, and they warned me it would get worse as it built up in my body...but no one can really prepare you for it. i don't want anyone to think, however, that i've lost sight of my optimistic attitude. it's still there, i've just reached the point where i have to use all my energy to fight...and sometimes it's just not as pretty.

i know it's impossible for me to really explain what all this is like, and thank goodness most of you won't ever have to find out. i will, however, do my darndnest to give you a little glimpse into this part of the journey.... try to remember a time you've felt really, really sick. the no energy, nauseous, headache, all over hurt kind of sick. now, imagine someone forcing you to repeat that twelve times...once every other week for six months.

in the beginning it's not so bad...you've been set out on a quest to fight for your life. there's a novelty to it, and you feel ready to fight with everything you've got. there's a sense of victory just knowing that you're killing cancer, and even though you have to go through hell every other week, it feels like nothing can take the will to fight from you. then, several months later, it starts to wear off... which is where we are now. it's like those horror movies where the same day keeps repeating itself over and over again. it's like being aware of how terrible what you're about to venture into is, and still walking into treatment every other week to do battle again.

but, there's something that keeps you going back every other week. maybe it's a routine, maybe it's because you somehow convince yourself it might not be so bad, and maybe it's because you know that even though you're tired you have to keep fighting. the will to fight is so deeply embedded in you at this point that while you convince yourself you can't do it anymore, you find yourself getting up, pushing forward, and doing everything you have to do to win...because even though you don't talk about it often, you're bitterly aware of what happens if you give up.

part two...inside the mind of a cancer warrior
the link isn't my writing, but i've been trying for weeks to put into words everything she's said...

"the cancer rant"

one of the hardest parts of this experience for me has been facing the bad days. i don't do well with bad days, i never have. i don't like to be anything less than positive, fun and optimistic. it's been six months since i found out i had cancer, and i'm finally accepting that i have bad days. i recently posted on the hodge forum that i was having a tough time getting through the end of treatment.... i feel miserable, i feel defeated, i feel frustrated, and i feel alone. i woke up the next morning, and many people had responded to my post and every single one of them said something along the lines of 'i get it...i was there, too'. it was that very moment that i realized i'm not alone, and everything i'm feeling is normal...there are just very few people who 'get it'. i have cancer, and gosh darnit, i'm entitled to have bad days, and it's alright for people to know about it.

...and guess what? even though i have bad days, and i'm learning to embrace the wide array of emotions that are associated with doing battle with cancer, i'm still a happy, optimistic person. a fellow hodge warrior told me that cancer has made her range of emotions so much deeper...the best is even better, and the worst is a little worse. but, she also told me, she wouldn't change the best for anything in the world.


  1. Grace- I am so proud of and inspired by your honesty. I feel honored to "know" you. You are going to get through this- we are all cheering you on. You have to make it to the other side so you can tell the rest of us who aren't there yet what it's like :)

    You are soooo close. Keep going. You can do it & you WILL do it. Soon.

  2. Hi Grace. A classmate of mine from college (Katlyn Sawyer) recommended I check out your blog. I was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma right at the start of 2010 and am beginning my own journey. I'll admit, when I first clicked on your blog, the post was "bad days" and I immediately closed the window! At that time, I didn't need to hear about the bad days. But 2 treatments down and I'm ready. I've started at the beginning of your posts and am reading one or two a day. I guess I'm helping fulfill that 3rd reason you decided to do a blog!

    Once I get up to date, I'd love to chat with you sometime. I have a blog of my own: http://ryanversushodgkins.blogspot.com . As you'll see, I've managed to stay pretty positive yet real (and most importantly fun) so far. Here's hoping I have the strength to keep it all up!

    Is it odd that I'm jealous that you're almost done? :-)

    All the best