rant about why i am sorry about having cancer and keep apologising

stupid things keep running through my head. that study that says if you sit down a lot you increase your risk of cancer.  the fact that health sites tell you not to eat sugar. the endless questions – why didn’t i find these things earlier, why didn’t i notice that my liver stuck out from under my rib cage, why didn’t i know i had bowel cancer, why didn’t i know i was sick, how could i even know when i don’t feel sick? why can’t any of these miracle cures be real? why can’t i know, right now, if the chemo is going to work?

why can’t i just be going to melbourne to see my friends and celebrate important milestones rather out of a desperate need to see the faces of some of the most important people in my life in case i never see them again?  why do i feel like now, i am sticking my life out, attention-like, in front of other people?  i am angry at myself for taking people’s attention away from important parts of their lives. i am angry at myself because i haven’t knitted baby clothes for five pregnant/recently had baby friends. i am angry at myself  for being so selfish to get upset because i might not get to see them wear tiny shoes, and waddle about and say words, and visit them and see photos on instagram.  i am angry that this is happening to me mostly because it is not just happening to me.

i know people keep telling me not to apologise.  but imagine how it feels. i should be visiting melbourne to celebrate some great things, some wonderful things, and here i go, showing up, with my STAGE FOUR CANCER in the front stage. i want it to be trivial. i remember booking the tickets months ago, because i was so so excited about the art show i am going to, and a baby on the way of two very important people. my diary has YAY written there, and i put happy stars on the opening night. this is HIS night. this is THEIR baby.  and fuck, here i come. fucking cancer lady. fucking blowing in like some… well… rotten cancer that is wrecking an otherwise fully functioning organ.  i wish i could have just not told anyone sometimes. i wish it could just be a thing that no one other than me knew about, and everyone could still be ok, and everyone wouldn’t have to cook for me or babysit me, or give me money.

and i am so completely consumed with gratitude that it makes me cry and cry because i don’t know how to express how grateful i am, and it gets caught up in this intense, burning guilt.  it is really hard to receive openly. i want to give back to everyone, and i don’t know what to give back, and i don’t even know how, because i feel so … so empty sometimes, like there’s nothing left of me apart from this core of tumours wrapping around my liver, and the blood clots and the spots on  my lungs and that anxious feeling like i can’t breathe and the endless snotty crying. i take long showers. i poke my stitches. i am not even anxious, i am just so angry at myself for doing this.

and i know. this is what being human is. it is about giving, it is about what happens when this happens – when the people we love suddenly might be taken from us. it shifts things suddenly and frighteningly.  both for the person who might have to go, and for those who might have to lose them. i am grieving the life i thought i would live, the one without Cancer.  i am stuck now, inside this hideous lumpy snow globe of cancer where all i can see is the refracted light of what i’m fucking up, and what i am getting in the way of, and learning how to receive openly.  there are texts on it, i’m sure. there are ways to learn how to receive.  i just feel undeserving, and i can’t process right now how so many people care so much, when i struggle so much with feeling as though i’m a fairly irritating, marginal person.  how does that shift who i am? how do i take feeling such kindness? how can i take that kindness into me, and let it make me feel less guilty, less angry at myself?

you know why i want to get better? the biggest reason? because i don’t want to hurt people any more than this stupid fucking miserable shit already has. that is my driving will to live.  each message each gift each moment of kindness is what is holding me and moving me and keeping that message of ‘just keep going’ repeating over and over again. i don’t actually care if it sucks or if it’s hard or how much pain i’ll be in. i am focussed now on the chemo shrinking the tumours. i am then focussed on having my liver resected. that’s my biggest hope and dream right now. a major liver resection that’s really high risk.  it used to be moving to tasmania.

sometimes when we go to sleep, we lie side by side, holding hands like ottars do, so that they don’t get lost in the water.  i feel like everyone around me that has had me interject this cancer into their life and has reached out – every one of those people are holding my hand, keeping me from getting lost in the water.

and this – THIS – is why i keep apologising.


About elizabeth

various things.
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7 Responses to rant about why i am sorry about having cancer and keep apologising

  1. A few years ago, I was sitting with friends in a cafe. One of them asked for help in packing up her house or something. I was the first to volunteer. She turned to me and said “no. Anyone else?” I tried several more times to volunteer until she told me that I have enough on my plate, she wouldn’t add to it. She was right. I was way overtired, and I was just starting to care for Mum.

    My friends helped me through my brain issue. They help me with my EDS. They are fine with me collapsing from fatigue at their houses. They will remind me to have a nap if it has somehow escaped my attention (which has happened on occasion). I have learned (thanks to this particular friend scolding, largely) to accept the help. Friends help each other. Sometimes, one friend needs the help of all. Sometimes, that one friend can help the others. It’s how friendship works.

    Yes, it can be hard to accept, but you know what? I will be right there, showing up at your door with a new hat, or taking you out to dinner. Talking. Listening. I want to be there for you as my friends were there for me.

    • veritas says:

      <3. thank you. today i wore my new purple hat to the social worker, psychiatric oncologist, and physiotherapist. it made me feel safe and cared for.

      i'm looking forward to our japanese dinner. and some knitting dates, once my schedule is in order!

  2. Lachlan says:

    I know you’re upset that it’s not the normal fun times trip that you planned, but don’t ever feel guilty for your circumstances when they are out of your control. It means so much to me that you’re coming down, regardless of what else is happening. You’re not fucking anything up, you have done nothing wrong, and it is a joy to see you, not a burden. You know this at a head level, but you have to learn to believe it deep down.

    • veritas says:

      it’s a really really hard thing – especially because of the bipolar. for so long i actually WAS a drain on everyone’s energy, because i was too much a child to get treatment. and i fought it, and i got through it, and now, this.

      i know intellectually – you are right – i can hear those words over and over again, people looking baffled. my social worker said it’s one of the most common reactions cancer patients have – incredible guilt for inflicting their diagnosis on others. so, also pretty bog standard normal reactions in the Long Line Of Predictable Reactions to cancer.

      for me, it’s now more than just fun. it’s become really fundamentally important. it’s actually been one of those things that’s been That Thing i’ve been looking forward to in the long line of stuff i have to do that is probably gross.

      and i wouldn’t miss it for the world. let alone a dumb cancer diagnosis.

  3. Lisa says:

    i’m so sorry you’re sorry elizabeth.you know it has just occurred to me that i haven’t said the following phrase in regards to your cancer- it’s just so stupid! (cue hands raised and look of disgust/contempt on my face).my thoughts are with you luv.xxxx

    • veritas says:

      IT IS SO STUPID! head shake. SO STUPID. i need to get my Respect the Fons poster from work to put up at home.

      • Lisa says:

        heeeeeeeeey !! glad to hear your treatment has started(if you can be glad about cancer treatment) you know what i mean.xxxx

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