Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Friday, August 7, 2009

First things first. . . .

"First things first, but not necessarily in that order" -unknown.
 Let's bring on the good news first, our soccer team had a pizza party at pizza hit last night. It was a great way to end a great season. 
Coach Vic, Jon and I brought the entire team of up coming kindergarten and first graders out to celebrate a season well played and hand out medals and pictures.
 Good times. Good, wholesome times. 
Today is our last game. 
We will not coach in the fall. It's time to lighten our load. 
Now what I would like to say is very difficult, but as Marci said, in the last six months I "have changed."
Even though this comment did hurt me deeply, I did recognize it as true. In January, when I had my first PET scan post transplant that showed possible cancer, a little piece of me died inside.
 I have been grieving severely ever since. I chose to grieve with anger. This is one of Kubler Ross's five stages of coping with loss. 
A diagnosis of cancer is a loss. 
Having my disease so long, I float in and out of the stages. 
With that scan, I knew in my heart, I could feel my cancer had returned, but there was the strong possibility of inflammation. 
I was in between a rock and a hard place. In my heart I knew my transplant had failed. I had cancer. I also knew that my loved ones needed this time to feel and relieved. Their hope for a cure was fierce and overwhelming. 
With knowledge comes huge responsibility. I desperately wanted people to understand the realistic implications of my scan. I wanted people to anticipatorilly prepare. I am heart broken that my disease brings pain to so many I love. 
I wouldn't express for their sake the true devestation of this scan in january. I wanted to shoulder the burden of knowledge while living, really living, my life. I thought everyday could be a celebration, but I couldn't shake my disease. 
Crazy thing about cancer is its always with you, following you, tainting your conversations and dictating your actions. I wonder if I, like Adam Ferland, and like others I have known, will one day wake up, feeling fine, and die by the end of the day.
 At a time when I thought I would be weaning off my pain medication, I started taking increasing doses. I started having increasing pain. Alongside the huge burden of trying to deny my cancer so my loved ones could go about their normal lives happily I started taking larger doses of depressants.
 I have always been sensitive to depressants. I don't like to tamper with myself. I am a natural girl. I was adding fuel to a wildfire. I started having bouts of explosive anger. No one was safe. I had so much rage inside. I was torn between fighting and denying for others.
 Cancer is hard enough to fight without worrying how others judge your coping. Trying to fight cancer while denying its existence is even harder. Having cancer without changing is absolutely impossible. I have lost so much to this disease, and now, I sit and cry knowing the fierce anger I have had has hurt others. 
Ironically, this anger originated from a need to protect those who loved me. So many times I would try to be realistic, to say I had cancer, only to be met with the person saying I need to be more: positive, optimistic, happy, etc. 
It could be inflammation, I was told. It is inflammation. 
This idea that optimistic thinking will cure cancer has been overgeneralized. I find it burdensome. How can anyone have cancer and also always be optimistic. A cancer diagnosis doesn't suddenly make us a super hero with iron tough emotions. How did I suddenly have to become blindly optimistic after hearing the three words "you have cancer" or run the risk of dying if I failed? 
This idealogy is burdensome. All I can do is the best I can. Of course, with the vicariousness of knowing I failed a second transplant with no period of remission, that my cancer is so strong and stubborn that it dug its nasty claws into my body while I underwent the procedure made me more emotional than ever, but I was also in tune to the need of others to hope and deny.
I did change then. How could I not with a blow like that, with a secret like that?  I got angry and had no where to vent it. All I could see was red blind rage. My disease is not an excuse for my "hillary fits."
For all those I have personnaly hurt, I am so sorry. Please forgive me for whatever pain I brought upon you. Please understand that this anger is not me, it's a side effect of my emotions and my medications. I am truly sorry for any hurt I have brought on anybody. 
I am so sorry it has become clear in my writing what an ornary individual this recent experience has made me. I don't want to be remembered like this. I let this disease be stronger than me. I hate that it has changed me and brought in awful qualities that I can't, or don't want to, control. 
I will regain control. I hope the people I have hurt while I've been venting from my own situation and side effects will find be able to forgive. I am truly sorry. I am humbled.
I am know stronger, I have overcome another portion of the battle, and we begin launching another attack on monday. It is a new start. I now feel like a new woman with a refreshing new hold on life.


Anonymous said...

I think what everyone needs to realize, Hillary, is that we all hurt people in our lives - most of the time it is unintentional, and we all feel badly that it has happened. Yet, when I am hurt by someone, I try to take a step back and understand where the hurt may be coming from and realize that it is just one moment in one day of my entire life. Don't let it get to you - we all truly know how to just "get over it".
Laura Z.

Anonymous said...

Wow Hillary. I can't even begin to understand what you are going through. But for you to be able to recognize the depth of your feelings and the affect they have on others, is so beyond your years in maturity. Your circumstances are unfathomable to most of us, yet the feelings you are experiencing are so "normal" to most. You have grown and learned so much from your anger, for that we should thank you, and for that you should revel in knowing you can still grow as a person under the worst of circumstances.