I'm back! No, I'm not dead. I've been balancing my human life with my post-cancer body, and that has left little time in between to really sit down blog. (Is "blogging" the same as "complaining"? I think so...) Anyway, now that work and life has slowed I bit I'm able to assess how things are going. I met a fellow BMT survivor recently and we discussed our lasting symptoms from treatment, and how you can be rid of cancer, but cancer will never be rid of you. It is a stain that cannot be washed away. She then described cancer with a car and driver metaphor. I loved it, took it and put my spin on it.
The moment you're diagnosed with cancer, the disease carjacks you, bloodies you up and throws you in the trunk. So begins the joyride you enjoy from the cramped, dark space next to the spare tire.
Then you start treatment.
You break yourself out of the trunk, take the driver's seat, and shove cancer into the passenger seat. For a while you both sit side by side, sometimes the cancer grabs the wheel and steers you into on coming traffic, because let's face it cancer is a sociopath. It's constant nagging and side-seat driving nearly drive you insane (pun intended).
Finally, you're in remission.
Cancer gets shoved into the backseat. It kicks your seat and continues to backseat drive, but your focus is on the road.
Eventually cancer slinks into the trunk where it will stay with the rest of your emotional (and literal) baggage. Maybe you get a trailer hitch and stow it in that, but in the end it will always be a passenger.
Along the way down this highway, you pick up some hitchhikers. Side-effects of the chemo, emotional and physical trauma. Passengers that, like your cancer, refuse to take a hint and get the hell out of the car. And they will not shut up.
These are some of my most persistent passengers.
They are constant companions in my post-cancer life. Now that I have rejoined the human world and have new passengers: a job, bills and, dare I say, responsibilities, I feel like I'm driving in a clown car of annoyances.
My passengers constantly compete for my attention. Work will scream for its bottle, while Dry Eye begins poking my eyes. Sleep tugs on one leg while Night Cramps tug on the other. Hunger scrapes my insides while Pill Nausea punches me in the gut. Migraine jackhammers into my skull while I chase Student Loan around the house for stealing my wallet.
How do I manage it all? I'm not sure I do. "Coping" is a better word. "Manage" implies some kind of organization. My approach is to drop one thing to deal with the other. The one that nags and stabs and shrieks the loudest wins - those invariably are my cancer passengers.
I used to get mad that so many of these passengers still dominate so much of my life. I'm over two years out of transplant. Why couldn't I just suck it up and get better already? But then, after a long conversation with other BMTers, I realized that, I am ONLY two years away from transplant. I practically died and came back to life two years ago. Compared to a two-year-old zombie, I think I'm doing pretty good.