As you know, Olivia Newton-John’s breast cancer has returned and metastasized to her sacrum. I haven’t said much about this because, well, it makes me uncomfortable as hell. I’m pretty sure you can figure out as to why.
To be honest, I haven’t actually been diagnosed with cancer; the problematic area in my left breast was caught before the cells divided. The offending area was removed and last July, I started my five year regimen of tamoxifen to block any estrogen in my breasts. The side effects of my medication? Well, they include insane hot flashes–most warmer days I feel like a rotisserie chicken on a spit!–and a lot of anxiety. It’s not fun. But it could be worse, as I keep telling myself. I could be in the position that Olivia Newton-John has found herself, so many years after her initial diagnosis.
What Ms. Newton-John has is manageable. It is treatable. There is that, at least.
But it isn’t curable.
For the rest of her life, she will be dealing with this, this monster lurking within her body. That is terrifying. You are living with something inside of your body that wants to end you. It’s a fear I know all too well, a fear that is almost always present with me, in some form, nearly every day.
Living with something like this is not easy. There are days when you shrug and say, “I can beat this thing back with a broom!” You feel confident. You feel almost normal, in fact. Those are the good days.
The bad days? Well, that’s when you struggle to get out of bed or start wondering if today is a good day to write out a will because this thing is going to kill you, no matter what you might say about it. Those days aren’t fun. That’s putting it mildly.
One of my coworkers has gone through something similar; she was diagnosed with cancer years ago. When she was first told, her reaction was, “I’m going to beat this!” Less than a minute later, she broke down sobbing in fear. That seems to be standard operating procedure with this type of disease. It’s terrifying on a level I can’t even begin to describe.
Your body wants to kill you and you are fighting like hell to stop that. So you swallow your medications, you go to your doctor’s appointments and you do everything in your power to fight this thing off. You donate money to fund research because you can’t help but think that the life you may save will be your own. You fight. No matter how afraid you get, you fight like hell and just when you’ve run out of strength, just when you think you can’t pick yourself up again, you fight it harder.
Because this shit won’t be taking you without a fight. You’ll make damn sure of that. Even if you can’t defeat it, you’re going to give it one helluva run.
Lastly: Fuck you, cancer.