Them and Me

I’ve been waking late at night to greet a returning visitor.

Hello, You that Shall not be Named, (stealing from Harry Potter).  The fear you inspire so powerful just saying your name might actually conjure you into existence.

So, I won’t say it.  As, in the book, I don’t want that dark spirit entering the room.  I don’t want it finding me again…and just maybe if I don’t face it, it won’t see me.

But, I don’t really believe that.

I’ve been trying to give up sulking, focusing less on breast cancer and more on life. There’s not much to complain about in the big scheme of things, but lately, I’m haunted.

My friend, Debbie, wrote a guest post for me last September, Playing the Cancer Card and said her friend’s younger sister had breast cancer.  Turns out, she wasn’t young enough not to die from it.  She was just 48.  The exact age I will be in 18 days. She leaves behind her husband and 13 year old twin girls.

When I was diagnosed nearly three years ago, my husband turned to a co-worker with breast cancer for advice.  He is at her memorial service today.

I can’t say I’m angry, as I have so often been.  These days I’m sad and overwhelmed by our new losses.  Which keep piling up, in what seems to me, epidemic numbers.

More women who do everything they’re supposed to do.  Have surgery, endure treatment after treatment, make their way through each day with their wigs and their scarves, and their implants, and their Tamoxifen, carrying a small shred of hope deep down that something, somehow will make the difference.  That they will be the ones to beat the odds…but they don’t and if they can’t, how can I expect anything else?

Walls seem to be closing in.  Cancer all around.

The same small flicker of hope lives in me.  It’s the one I call on late at night to ward off the impending visitor, to push away the question…Has it come?  A cold sweat breaks because I know next time, as with those ladies before me, there is no escape.

I’ve been diagnosed once already… I can’t turn back the clock to a time before cancer cells invaded my body, to a time when the news might be good…not again.

Once diagnosed, in that one instant, we’re changed forever.  Even with no evidence of disease (NED), recurrence lies waiting, taunting me, and nothing I do will scare it away.

I can only hope for the best and know there will be moments of failure on my part, weakness in the face of something sugary, or lured by the call of a comfy couch rather than a treadmill, but it is still my life and this is its path.

I can follow it ready to embrace all that’s good or waste these days worrying about something yet to come.

I can choose to learn from these women.

These mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters who wanted to live just the same, just as much and be happy I’m still here to do it.

25 thoughts on “Them and Me

  1. Stacey,MY GOODNESS…. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face…..I'm so sorry you are in the midst of such tragic losses. SENSELESS deaths in my view but that's a rant for another place.Now, it's just about sending you a big hug and telling you how very sorry I am for you and your husband….. for your friend Debbie…. Love,AnneMarie


  2. Stacey, thank you for this moving post! Like AnneMarie, I'm sending you a huge cyberhug. I'm sorry for all the losses that keep piling up and you being diagnosed not that long ago.I'm so sorry that cancer exists — all cancers. Right now two of my friends are going through cancer-related issues. So sad.I do also understand the inner demons. The hauntings. Everything.


  3. Stacey,The losses do keep piling up don't they? I'm sorry about this latest one in your life. Keep that flicker of hope going. Maybe all of us together can create a 'roaring fire.' Keep embracing the good, Stacey, and do the best you can fighting off the inner demons. One day at a time. Sending you hugs, my friend. Thanks for sharing so honestly.


  4. Beautiful, tragic post. I'm rendered nearly speechless by the gravity of it all–the losses, the fear, the heaviness that is cancer. If it helps at all, I get it. Every word you wrote, every thought you expressed–I get it. xo


  5. so true – no matter how well we endure treatment – there are no guarantees that it wont return – I've been in and out of treatment for the last 3 and half years – and I endure… until I dont anymore.


  6. Thank you for sharing this post. Your sadness reaches out from the page. I too have lost people close to me on my now lengthy journey.and I have wondered why I am still here and the lucky one. It makes me savour life but also feel angry for the damage to,so many. It gives me the strength for my mission too. I hope happier days replace the sleepless nights again. My thoughts are with you.Audrey


  7. I am reading your post on the day I have just learned of the cancer death of a young mother whose baby just turned 1 last week. I have no words to convey how angry and sad this makes me and your post really resonates with me more than ever today. Marie x


  8. I'm overwhelmed reading this dark and beautiful entry and I'm so sorry about these new losses. They do seem to be everywhere. I just heard yesterday of another mom here who's been newly diagnosed. Stacey, I wish I could take away from you the burden of living in the aftermath of diagnosis even for just one night of pure peace of mind for you. In times like this, keep pushing away the darkness and remember the survival stories that offer comforting hope–the old, old ladies we come across once in awhile who mention having had breast cancer when they were young. I honestly believe there will be more and more of them as time marches on and screening and early detection become more prevalent–and that you will be one of them someday, dozens of birthdays from now.


  9. So sorry for your pile-up of losses & their weight. And so sorry that we all understand. Wishing you a little bit of light for the dark places. Thanks for writing such a beautiful post.Julie


  10. Thanks, AnneMarie. Senseless is how I see it too, but sometimes I just can't bring up the anger and this was one of those times. It's just so freaking sad. I'm not sure how to deal sometimes, but having you read my words and give your comment certainly helps. Love to you, my cyber sister.


  11. Hi Beth, I know you understand. Knowing you and all our Sherpas are out there help to lighten the load and put things back into a perspective I can handle. I'm sorry you have friends dealing with this crap. Never seems to end some days, does it? Hugs right back to you. xoxo


  12. Thanks, Renn! A good night sleep comes from knowing my cyber sisters have my back and are ready to kick some ass when needed. That's a visual I like. xoxo


  13. Hi Nancy, thank you for your comment. I like the idea of all of us together building the flicker. If only our desire to eradicate this thing truly carried that kind of power, imagine what we can do. I'll think about that and as you say, one day at a time. Hugs right back.


  14. Nancy, knowing you and all our cyber sisters understand is what gets me through the night. At least we have this amazing community to share with, unburden this crappy hand we've been dealt. I'm sorry you understand so well. I wish none of us knew anything about it. xoxo


  15. Hi Jenny, I'm sorry it's been so hard for you. Endure is a good word. I guess that's really all any of us can do and hopefully, find some comfort somewhere, as I am in all the comments here. Thank you for yours and I'm sending big hugs to you.


  16. Hi Audrey, I hear you and have felt the same ways. I wonder why I'm here and others aren't. Some days I'm so pissed off I can't breath and other days I can't breath out of fear of what may come, but I'm trying my best not to waste any more time on \”maybe.\” Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it so much. xoxo


  17. Hi Marie, I'm so sorry to hear about this new casualty. It's so sad, it's almost unbelivable. It never ends. Thanks for reading and writing here. My thoughts are with you and sending hugs your way.


  18. Hi Wendy, I'm sorry to hear your news about another mother. Crazy, just insane that this continues to happen. I appreciate your positive take on this and so hope we're old ladies together one day, falling down stockings and all… xoxo


  19. Julie, I can't say enough how sorry I am so many of us understand this beast, but it helps knowing I'm not alone. None of us here are. That's something. Thank you for reading and your kind words. xoxo


  20. Oh, Stacey, this post so resonated with me. I can just feel the ache and angst in your words. Your post reminded me of a patent attorney at a law firm who was diagnosed with breast cancer about the same time I was. We met for coffee several times. Her cancer came back in an advanced form and she has been gone for 13 years already. How could I forget her? I guess I remember more the two women in my support group who died. I didn't want to face the fact that someone in my own rare profession could actually die from this disease. But it happens. And we go on. What choice do we have? Thank you for voicing all our concerns. xx


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