One month of chemo

Updated: Aug 9

It's been much longer than I had planned to publish another post. The past couple of weeks have been harder from a combined mental and physical standpoint than just physical. I've definitely had some good / "normal" days, but they were much less frequent than I had hoped. I have to remind myself that it would be unreasonable to think I could be extremely positive all the time with so much happening aside from just cancer treatment.


When I got the diagnosis, my perspective on what I needed to prioritize in my life shifted immediately. There was so much that would be out of my control, so I needed to focus on what I could control. Especially at a time like this, my number one priority is my daughter. When I was working full-time, although I was at home, I couldn't care for her during work hours and actually work at the same time (and I was putting in such long hours). As I mentioned in an earlier post, the transition from maternity leave to having a full-time nanny was mentally and emotionally excruciating for me. Once I knew what I would be faced with in regards to treatment, the physical and psychological limitations and requiring social isolation to reduce exposure to any and all viral infections due to my severely compromised immune system, leaving my job and letting the nanny go to become my daughter's primary caretaker was a no-brainer. My time with her is precious.


Fast forward through a month of treatment and I still don't feel like I'm present enough for Sunny. Some days the fatigue is unlike anything I've ever experienced. The bone pain I feel from Nuelasta, a bone marrow stimulant to help produce more white blood cells, feels like a metal hammer banging nonstop on metal pipes. Sometimes, it knocks the wind out of me. Mentally, I wonder if I'll make it through this. It's hard to pull myself out of those thoughts. Even on physically "good" days, my mind can wander to dark places. The guilt of feeling inadequate as a mother and like a non-functioning member of society is overwhelming. On those days, my husband helps with the baby's morning and evening routine and my parents step in to help with the daily rhythm of diaper changes, feedings, and play time while he's at work. I know how lucky I am to have help, but it still leaves me feeling like I'm not a good enough Mama. I feel judged, even though I'm not. The self-inflicted mind games are cruel.


Ironically, when I'm finally able to rescue myself from my own emotional torture, I've discovered a knight in shining armor in myself that I've never recognized before. The way I talk to myself, look at myself, and think of myself has gotten so much kinder, protective, and more self-assured. I have a newfound confidence that I'm surprised by in a way, but I suppose when you're faced with the possibility of your own mortality at 31, the pettiness in life abruptly ceases to matter. I'm putting the most personal aspects of my life on public display and it's far from frightening. It's therapeutic for myself and, I know now, for women going through a similar journey. The idea of helping women, even only one woman, through the challenges of this phase in life is rewarding in ways I never felt with work or even with volunteering. And I've discovered it's a domino effect of paying it forward. Since I've been diagnosed, I've connected with several women whom I never would have interacted with. The sense of camaraderie I feel from a complete stranger is inexplicable. I'm so grateful for these conversations and all I can think about once I can label myself a "Survivor" is how much I want to be that helpful stranger to someone in need one day.


I daydream often about what next year will look like after treatments/surgery, after COVID. I have such high expectations of what I want the next chapter of my life to look like. I try not to put so much pressure on myself to figure it all out now, but sometimes I can't help it. I have a creative mind and ideas flow constantly. Execution is my weak point. I've set a high bar on execution and I want to exceed it. In time, I know I'll get there. For now, my unofficial tagline is "one day at time." It's all I can reasonably promise myself and I welcome it every morning with an open heart.


Stay Sunny,

Renata


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