The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Anxiety (or, Please Pass the Xanax)

My biggest battle this week has not been against the nasty cold I got, but rather, anxiety. It has manifest itself in my racing mind, improper breathing (heaving the chest, rather than breathing from the diaphragm) and hyperventilation to the point of lightheadedness. It seems odd that I would be consumed by anxiety in this way, as this isn't how it felt even at the most stressful parts of this process so far: Diagnosis, waiting for pathology results, chemo still being an unknown. But I think I'm figuring it out: I had my second-to-last infusion today of my first 12 week course of chemo. Next week will bring that phase of treatment to a close, which means that surgery, a rougher course of chemo (Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide, known as A&C), and radiation are still ahead of me.

Upon diagnosis and early in this course of chemotheraphy, everything was a mystery to me. Would I have to vomit every day? When will I go bald? Will my fingernails be affected? What will my energy level be like? What if my white cell count goes too low? And most of all: WHAT IF IT DOESN'T WORK? Well, at this point, these questions have pretty much been answered. No vomit so far, not 100% bald (but close enough--see photo below, oh curious ones), my fingernails are slightly more brittle but still growing, my energy has been fine for the most part, my white cell count has dipped slightly below normal (but is close enough to normal to not impact treatment), and SO FAR IT'S WORKING! Clearly, I feel really good about all of these things and that's a) because it hasn't been so bad, and b) the news is good in terms of tumor shrinkage.

So, Lara, why the long face? Why the anxiety? Well, let's all remember: I DO have cancer. But I don't think that's driving the sudden increase in my anxiety. I think what's driving it is a renewed sense of the unknown for treatments that are now just around the corner. I'll be having surgery on March 7th, and while I'm not particularly worried about it, it's still an unknown. And then in April and May I'll be getting A&C--a stronger chemo; a cocktail that, as my dad kindly put it, will make me look like a cue ball. The nausea should be worse, and from what I understand it does quite a number on my immune system. I've been spoiled so far. I've said all a long that I'm not afraid of the treatments (whatever it takes, right?). But I can't claim to not be anxious about them. Very anxious. And what anxiety does is it feeds the night demons, who then instill fears that I thought I'd already dispelled (e.g., WHAT IF IT DOESN'T WORK?!).

So, what now? Well, I'm turning to what has worked for me thus far. Moving ahead eyes wide open (bring on the treatments!), getting out on the soccer pitch, and not being afraid to medicate when needed. This is bad shit I'm dealing with, I'm sick and tired of it, and if swearing and a healthy dose of Xanax is what it takes to get me over this hump, so be it.

1 comment:

  1. As they say: "This, too, shall pass." And you WILL get over this hump. Whatever works for you -- GO FOR IT.
    -- Mom


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