July 21, 2016. I'm sitting in the waiting room of the lab where I get my PSA test. It is taking a little longer than usual, which unfortunately gives me time to think. I can see the doors.
What if I got up and walked out the door?
What if I didn't go to my appointment next week and went to the beach instead?
What if I said,"Enough."
I am sick of being depressed. I am sick of feeling like shit.
I am sick of being sick.
I am not courageous. I am not brave.
Which means I got my PSA test. And next week I will go to my appointment.
I need a beer.
You know those notifications you get from your Facebook history telling you this is what you posted on this date way back when? And how some of those old posts will make you smile, or make you think "Where has the time gone?" Or make you cringe a little and make you wonder why you posted it?
The above post is from 3 years ago. I was sitting in the waiting room getting ready to have my blood drawn for what seemed to be the millionth time to check my ever-changing PSA numbers. It was my second time around on hormone treatments, my PSA was heading up, and I was sick of all of it. So I wrote that post and plunked it down on Facebook for all the world to see. Poor, poor, pitiful me.
The cancer journey
A lot has happened over the last three years since I sat in that waiting room feeling sorry for myself. My cancer has progressed to stage 4, and it has metastasized. Last year, I went through 6 sessions of chemotherapy, which didn't zap the tumors as I wanted it to. I'm on my 3rd go around on hormone therapy, and my second try with Xtandi, which has caused me to gain weight and zaps my energy every day. The journey has not gotten any easier.
But, over the last three years since I sat in that waiting room feeling sorry for myself, my attitude has slowly changed. Over time, I've begun to appreciate the life I have left, and that the time I have left on this earth is precious. And, that even though some days are a struggle, the struggle is part of the richness of the life I now live. The struggle and the desperation of the bad days make me appreciate the easiness and happiness of the good days. And there are more good days than bad days.
And I'm thankful for that.
Grateful for my family
Over the past three years, I have celebrated 30 years of marriage to my best friend, and I'm grateful that she has put up with me all these years. A caregiver to a cancer patient is a thankless job most of the time, and she has to live with my frustrations and outbursts of emotion that come with the treatments I'm on. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, those vows get put to the test everyday. And we're still here.
Watching our boys grow
Over the past three years, I've watched our two sons become responsible and amazing young men, reaching out into the world, and making their own mark. Our oldest was recently married, and I am totally awed and in love with my new daughter-in-law. I'm ridiculously proud of them both as they start their own journey as a married couple.
Last year, our youngest moved a couple of thousand miles away from home for a job he really wanted. I miss him desperately, but I couldn't be more proud. He is happy and successful, and when I went to visit him last Thanksgiving, I discovered a new part of the country that I immediately fell in love with. Which makes me want to travel more before I'm gone.
Remembering my beloved Mom
Over the past three years, there have also been heartaches. My mother passed away last month after a long struggle with dementia, a heartbreaking disease that slowly robs the stricken person of their dignity and their ability to take care of themselves. But, at the viewing and at the funeral, I was reminded how much she was loved, and that she lived a life well-lived. I was honored to give her eulogy. And I'm glad I'm still here to help my Dad.
Over the past three years, I now appreciate more than ever friends that love me. Over the past three years, I'm blessed and amazed by people I don't even know who pray for me. Over the past three years, I've learned that a bad day is what it is...a bad day. On a bad day, I go to bed and pray for a better next day. And most of the time, that prayer is answered.
Over the next three years, I have no idea what is going to happen. I don't even know if I'll still be alive. But I do know this. There will be struggles. There will be bad days. The will be times when I feel sorry for myself sitting in a room waiting for the next test, or the next treatment, or the next consultation, or the next whatever this disease throws at me.
Strength from struggle
But, I now know the bad days are temporary. And I also know the struggle will make me stronger, even as the disease makes me weaker.
And maybe when I see this post in my Facebook memories, I won't cringe.
Thanks for reading.
Have you lost a loved one to prostate cancer? (select all that apply)