What is it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this:
One day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOSH THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.
Wait, what? How? Why is there a mountain lion in your fridge? But how? NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. RUN! RUN! THE MOUNTAIN LION WILL KILL YOU! UNLESS YOU FIND SOMETHING EVEN MORE FEROCIOUS TO KILL IT FIRST!
So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion – “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” – and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.
Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”
As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy – they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself – why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an asshole for even thinking that – and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?
Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you – maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband – comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “DAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face and rips him open with his claws. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose and wounds and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.
Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also kicks your husbands ass too! And your husband is now staggering around with a black eyes and bloody nose, bleeding everywhere and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face and all scratched up by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”
Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure – it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”
Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “F this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.”
This story was not written by me but another fellow cancer patient. They hit the nail right on the head and I couldn’t have said it better myself or made a better comparison. And to think that I’ve climbed that mountain twice! And both times I was pregnant!!! Not a little pregnant but very, very pregnant… TWICE!!! I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. I guess I am talking to myself right now. To drill a point home to my dense brain. For me to really remember and recognize all I have been through the last 4 years. Because I am probably the biggest offender to myself. My mentality has been to not stop, to forge on like nothing is wrong, to think to myself, “I’m not tired”, when in reality, I am a total wreck, exhausted but too delirious to even recognize it. Don’t tell anyone, but I think I have learned to sleep with my eyes open. Keep going, keep going, keep going. I mean really, when there is a mountain lion chasing you, wouldn’t you just keep going? At least until you may think it’s safe to stop and catch your breath for a moment or you’ll just collapse from total exhaustion. Who has time to think about better choices in a situation like this? The raptor brain kicks in and for me it’s nothing but a drive of pure adrenaline and a positive thinking, “nothing can get me down” attitude and to keep the “F” running forward. I know I should extend myself a little more grace sometimes. Give myself more time to rest, heal, recover. And yes, I do nap, I do rest, I do take time for myself… but I certainly put up a good fight that I WILL NOT LET THIS DISEASE WIN! I will not be eaten by a mountain lion.
Sure, I will come out of this battle scarred and missing some body parts. And my poor husband, he has been beaten and bruised from this, acquiring his own battle wounds from this fight. Not to mention my entire family and extended family has been banged up as well. But we all keep going, running up that mountain, fighting off any predator (not just the bear and mountain lion) that we encounter mountain side.
And that my friends is a glimpse of what fighting cancer is like.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Do me a favor and get those boobies checked. In fact take this time to check out any part of your body that could be suspicious for cancer. Early detection is key. Do this for yourselves and your families so that you don’t wake up one morning and find an immortal mountain lion in your fridge.