Day 2 – August 21, 2007 (Italicized = original journal from day one)
Aloneness, no one, empty, without, comfortless, alone, alone, alone. . .
Misery loves company but there is no company after diagnosis. It doesn’t matter all those before me; it doesn’t matter all those after me. I am solitary and alone in my body, the body that has betrayed me. I ask it what I did to hurt us so. What could I have done differently? It speaks nothing. It leaves me deaf. I am Helen Keller without understanding, before the words and signs have meaning. I have only myself to cling to but it is a vacant hold.
There are no answers. There is not enough information, just circling in a holding pattern. It is almost a relief. Waiting and not breathing; time standing still yet with each sensation inside my biopsy scar, under the bruise I know nothing is quiet. Now, I wait for the next step. It will not come soon enough. It will come too soon with answers.
So, to move forward means to laugh. Never quit laughing. Sometimes even laugh at cancer but be wary of the sacrilege – that’s the fear again. Which is right? Just give me the answers to know how to proceed. I must do it right? Can there be a right way? People live and die doing whatever they do whether it’s right or wrong. What does cancer want?
The isolation denies any other reality but cancer. A veil keeps all touch, comfort, and words out of focus. People are at a distance, even spouses. No one else has cancer. You’re it. You are alone. Even those who have it, have a different kind, or different stage, or different treatment. You are alone. You are swimming for your life but you can’t see a direction toward shore.
First I felt betrayed by my own body. How could my body have allowed this growth and not told me before it was too late? Why did this happen? Then I felt like the betrayer. What did I do to hurt myself? Maybe if we had had our water tested, maybe if I hadn’t eaten non-organic food, maybe if I didn’t sit in the hot tub so much, maybe if I had quit my job sooner, maybe if I hadn’t quit my job. Fortunately I had Tom, my surrogate dad while growing up, who said these emotions would appear and that eventually I would realize I couldn’t blame myself. Somehow I found that I had to forgive myself for being human. Until then, everything in the house, in the refrigerator, in the air, in the space at work, all looked like poison. I was so certain that somehow if I just quit doing whatever it was that caused the cancer, it would make it go away or at least stop the disease from spreading. Thank goodness this obsession passes. If it didn’t, I would have starved to death before the cancer ever got me.
My friends take some of the deafness from my solitary fear. They love me. They caress me with their arms, their intuition, their minds, and their hearts. They allow me to melt down inside many martinis. They share my fear with me. They say I’m cute in my drunkenness. They love me with their actions. They love me through their hope.
This was the beginning of accepting my cancer. I think maybe at some point I knew I had to embrace the disease. I had to face cancer’s portrait and not hide. This didn’t happen over night, but this was how my journey began. Two of my dear friends, Kathy and Jo Ann, spent the evening with me talking and drinking. I didn’t give up martinis until the next day! We cried together, we laughed together, and we drank together, unfortunately that night we didn’t eat enough together. They had to call my husband to come pick me up, literally, off the floor. There’s nothing like a good drunk in the midst of desolate fear. I am happy to report that I recovered from that evening and as time passed, I pretty much gave up alcohol. These two friends traveled this difficult road with me. At every turn they were there listening, holding, loving and believing in me. Through them, I became less alone; I became well.