BFF

I was recapping 2013 (okay, fine, I was complaining about 2013) to someone recently* and they commented that when Shawn and I make it through this year we'll be unstoppable. That if we can stay laughing, and stay best friends, we can make it through anything.

I agreed.

I also had to try very hard to not snort-laugh. 

Because while it's true that our relationship is growing stronger from these challenges, it is also true that some days we want to punch each other right in the baby-maker. Some days we are not best friends. Some days we are not friends at all. Not even a little bit. 

It's normal. It's to be expected. It's boring. But that doesn't make it any easier.  

Shawn has been an amazing source of support and love throughout this cancer bullshit. He has also been an insensitive dolt at times. Because he's human. He's just a guy with a headstrong 2-year old and a demanding job and bills to pay ... and a wife with cancer. 

I forget that, sometimes. I forget that this is hard for him too. Not hard in the same way. He hasn't said goodbye to Grady (twice! In the space of 5 weeks!) and wondered if it would be the last time. (Sidenote: I know. Tomorrow we could go outside and get hit by a bus or struck by lightning or eaten by sharks. I know that our time is not guaranteed. I ... don't care. Facing major surgery brings out the fainting couch and hand-wringing in me.) But just because he's not facing the same challenge I am doesn't make his challenge less valid. I think I need to tattoo that on the inside of my arm so I see it the next time I want to dickpunch him for complaining about his sniffly nose and sore throat. 

*2013: told I didn't have cancer, told I had cancer, two surgeries, complications from second surgery which resulted in longer hospital stay than anticipated, difficulty getting hormone levels correct, ambiguity from oncologist about treatment plan, stolen motorcycle, car damaged by falling parkade gate, family-wide bronchitis / Man Cold that has lasted for three weeks now and shows no sign of disappearing, Grady's heart thing which is possibly not a thing at all but we won't know until we have the echocardiogram. 

Numbers

I am still very wrapped up in the language of my cancer experience but now I've added numbers to my list of Things to Fret About and Overanalyze. 

I came away from my first appointment with my oncologist feeling cautiously optimistic. He explained that thyroid cancer has more in-depth rating system that can be used rather than the traditional Stage 1, Stage 2, etc. This rating system takes a whole bunch of different factors into account (age, sex, tumour size, lymph node involvement, etc) that when plugged into a certain formula produce an overall score. My overall score was 4.7. This was a very good score.

However. My oncologist wasn't comfortable with a few aspects of my cancer so he decided to have the pathology on my tumour and lymph nodes redone (sidenote: does this mean that my tumour is just, like, hanging out somewhere? Do they keep my tumour? For how long? I have so many questions but I feel like I should be asking my oncologist more life-and-deathy questions than "so ... where exactly is my tumour?")

I got my new results yesterday. My overall score is now 5.7. This is still good but it is less good. The BC Cancer Agency recommends further treatment with radioactive iodine for anyone who scores a 6.0 or higher. So I was all "yay! Still under 6.0! Celebration time, bitches!" and my oncologist was all "weeeelllllll, not quite." Apparently I am in a grey area where the statistics become a bit foggy. People who  score under 6.0 have about a 1% chance of their cancer recurring. People who score higher than a 6.0 have a 10% chance. My oncologist told me that I'm in the grey area where he's not comfortable using the term remission yet. He's not comfortable saying I have a 1% chance of my cancer recurring. Or a 10% chance for that matter. He's ... not saying a lot right now actually. 

So I'm stuck. I'm stuck thinking about numbers and words and blood tests and to be honest, I'm pretty fucking sick of feeling like a lab rat. I have to decide whether or not I want to proceed with the radioactive iodine. My oncologist (the guy with all the knowledge and education) is leaving it up to me (non-sciencey!) to decide whether or not to proceed with the treatment. He is not recommending I have it. He is not recommending I not have it. He's strongly suggesting that I speak to him about it further. But what does that actually mean?  

I am struggling. I have been struggling for the last few weeks. I keep waiting for it to turn around but every day feels harder than the day before. I am snappy and exhausted and mean. I just want to feel like myself again. But I don't even know what that means anymore.  

 

Vim & Vigour This, Butthead

This is the way it works, right? Write about my newfound zen-like perspective and then get riled the fuck up over a cancer magazine called "Vim & Vigour"? I'm trying to be accepting of the process and not get all worked up over stupid shit like doctors who are late for appointments or who didn't order the correct blood work for the other doctor, which means the other doctor sends me for another blood test, which means I have had at least 1 blood test per week for the last month. I'm trying. And for the most part I'm succeeding. But then I'm given this magazine all about cancer and it's called "Vim & Vigour" and I just want to punch the person who came up with the name.

I mean, I get it. Calling the cancer magazine "Doom & Gloom" is bad form. And calling it "Fuck, This Really Sucks For You, Here, Have a Cookie" just isn't practical. But there has to be something better than "Vim & Vigour."

I have encountered a lot of false cheerfulness throughout this process. Which is fine, whatever, if you want to slap a big grin on your face and talk about how lucky I am to "only" have thyroid cancer (the Best! Cancer! Wheee!) because it makes you feel better, fine. Have at it. Don't let me (and MY feelings about MY cancer) get in your way. But don't start telling me how I "should" feel. Don't say that my lack of vim and/or vigour is me being negative. I'm not being negative. I'm just not doing a goddamn happy dance over the fact that I have the "good" cancer.

So. Cancer. Kind of a roller coaster.

Perspective

I have never liked my hair. It is baby-fine but there is so much of it. It's not curly but it's not straight; it's sort of kinky/wavy/frizzy unless I coerce it in a certain direction. It's not blonde but it's not a nice, rich, warm brown either. It's mousy and delicate and I have actively disliked it for a very long time. I have had long hair and short hair and somewhere-in-between hair but I have never had hair that I loved. 

Friday was my first day at the BC Cancer Agency. I walked down the long corridor, past Clinic A and Clinic B, to my waiting room at Clinic C. I walked past head scarves and wigs and bald heads; I did not see the people, I just processed the state of their heads. All I saw was *CANCER* in flashing neon lights.

And I felt like a capital-D Dickhead. 

My cancer is not a type treated with chemo. I will not lose my hair. (Well, I've lost some hair due to hormone wackiness but I am not going to lose all my hair.) I have been so royally pissed off at everyone who has called my cancer the "good" cancer. I have ranted and cried and called people stupid and insensitive because they called my cancer the "best" cancer. I have felt self-conscious because people stared at my scar. I have felt unattractive and embarrassed because cancer makes me sweaty. I have felt like I had a flashing neon *CANCER* light hanging over my head. I have been so silly.

Now, I'm not saying that I don't have a right to my feelings. I'm not saying my feelings are silly. I'm just saying that walking down the corridor of the BC Cancer Agency provided a huge dose of perspective (one for which I am extremely grateful.) Cancer sucks. My scar is ugly. I am frequently sweaty and yeah, sometimes smelly. It is not fun. It is not "good" or "the best." But it's not the worst either. And I needed to see that with my own eyes so that I can choose to love my stupid hair and be grateful for my stupid cancer instead of being force-fed gratitude.