For someone who has done this whole cancer thing before, these last few weeks have been a tough period of transition and thought and identity.
It took a full week after my first treatment before I felt like a person again. This was a vast contrast to the first time around when I worked full time through it all. On that first "real person" day I woke up, got ready for work, and while I was putting on my coat I thought "huh, I feel 98% today." Want to know what I did next? My hand slipped out of my coat and I punched myself in my port. OUCH. What the hell, Universe?
That week of indescribable fatigue and hungover college student stomach made myself a stranger to me. I was barely able to fake my way through work.
--Hang on, I'm not supposed to be faking it this time. I'm trying to be real.--
At that point, I was ready to write this post with a different title. It would have been "My foe, Faux." I would have railed against faking my way through treatment. Shouted that I was going to be true to myself and not just be chipper to make my cancer easier for anyone. REVOLUTION! But then the next week happened.
The week between chemo side effects and my next treatment was great! I saw friends, I read princess bedtime stories with a feminist twist to my fave twisters, Mike and I heard a wonderful Beethoven's Fifth, I let my feet dip in a pool, Gretchen and her little legs hiked for over an hour with me - everything ordinary, all a little extraordinary. I recognized myself and that was awesome. I LIKE being positive. I LIKE making people happy. I LIKE people to know that I am strong, that I will fight, and that it's okay to be normal around me.
So here I am with two weeks worth of this one blog topic bouncing around and no idea what to do with it. I've since been through another treatment, spent 4 days sleeping off the poison, made my way back into work, and am sitting around 85% right now. Faux is no longer my foe, though. Are you confused? I was confused.
Everyone should have a therapist. One of the greatest benefits mine has offered is vocabulary. She can take my dollops of sentences, find the theme, and give it a name. Today's word of clarity? Authenticity. It's not about faking a chipper spirit; I respect myself, my loved ones, my co-workers, and my students too much to do that. It isn't about pretending this doesn't suck; I would drown holding on to that rock so firm in the riverbed of denial. Authenticity is about maintaining myself, the person you all know and like a lot, while I adapt to challenges, accept joys, and keep moving forward. Authenticity will wear sadness, fatigue, hope, happiness, and more.
So here I am, reluctantly going through this again but resolutely doing it as Kara.