Not Writer’s Block

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Lately I’ve been frustrated with myself.  I’ve wanted to write during these past few months.  I’ve especially wanted to fill you all in on my mom’s cancer journey, but sitting down to actually do it has been damn near impossible.

For a long time, I thought what I had was a case of writer’s block. After all, what is a writer who doesn’t write? Someone who is clearly “blocked” by something, right? 

But, here’s the thing…once I start writing, words come out.  I never waste any time staring at a blank screen.  It’s just that I so rarely even see the cursor awaiting input.  I can’t ever make the time.

A few days ago, I finally got sick of my own bullshit, and opened a blank document.  I started typing away with a new determination.  (The end result was my most recent post about finding grey hair.

However, what initially emerged doesn’t look like what I posted.  Instead, it was 600 words of self-indulgent navel-gazing.  It was a lot of blather about something that happened a few years ago.  (I guess I still had something I needed to purge.) Blah blah blah.  Whine whine whine. Definitely more appropriate for a diary than online.  

It felt good to write, but I wound up scrapping it. Still, the act of writing got me somewhere.  It helped me realize that what I’m experiencing isn’t writer’s block.  At least not in the traditional sense.  It’s something else.

As I wrote, the source of the problem dawned on me all at once, finally revealing itself;  this is depression. I am actually depressed. 

Oh.  

Well, shit.  

A resounding bell of recognition clanged through my head.  It all made sense…the weight gain and lack of motivation.  Those general feelings of “meh” and “blah” that I find myself succumbing to more often.  

This new knowledge was a relief.  Thinking that “something” is wrong with you, but not knowing what is frustrating!  Now that I know, I have a better path forward.  

The past year and a half changed everything.  I’ve never really been all that depressed, but I’m not surprised that this part of me was amplified.  

You see, depression isn’t always big, earth-shattering sadness.  Sometimes it manifests as a lack of interest and motivation…just like mine!  You can find a list of common symptoms of depression HERE..  Please talk to a health professional if you recognize these symptoms in yourself.

Please do not worry about me. I can promise that I am addressing this.  I am speaking to a therapist.  I am forcing myself to do things which will ultimately bring me joy. (Like writing more!)

Onwards and upwards,

Jennnq

**NOTE:  My mom had breast removal surgery (mastectomy) on Wednesday.  At that time, things looked very good and not inflamed.  They also removed a few lymph nodes, which the surgeon said looked ok.  (She is awaiting further results from pathology.)  She has been healing very well, and is far more active and capable at this stage than I would have anticipated.

The results from pathology will dictate the course of the radiation treatment to come.   I will share more details shortly. She is doing well, and the chemo has done a good job, judging from the results so far. 

The Cancer Plan

I haven’t cried yet.  It’s a thought I’d been having occasionally over the past couple of weeks.  Of course I knew it wouldn’t last.  I knew that it was only a matter of time.

A couple of days ago, that time was up.  I don’t know what it was exactly, but once I started I couldn’t stop.  I cried while my mother talked to me on the phone (she sounded tired!).  I cried when a friend sent me a kind message.  I cried to myself on my lunch break as I sat at my desk.  Great fat tears rolled down my nose.  I made ugly sobbing noises.  

But mostly, I just knew that the dam had broken, and now I would be crying off and on about my mom’s cancer.

Hopefully not too often.  Hopefully not in front of my mom.  But that lump in my throat is still there, and I am afraid that I will hear a pretty song, or a sappy commercial and just shatter into tiny pieces.

The Cancer Plan

I’m going to divide the rest of this post under a couple of headings.  I couldn’t find a very cohesive flow, I’m afraid!  Guess I’m feeling a little disjointed myself.

Some further scans have come back, and they actually turned up a second lump in the same breast. As well, the cancer seems to be affecting six lymph nodes, rather than two. The plan remains largely unchanged. The cancer-killing starts with 18 weeks of chemo.  My precious mother has to undergo 18 weeks, consisting of 6 rounds of intense chemotherapy.  She had the first already.  They have also given her a port to simplify the administration of the chemo drugs. For the record, a port is like a way more badass piercing than any of the ones I ever got. (Think your mom is punk? Mine has a subdermal implant!) She says she’s fine, and I know it’s necessary, I just don’t like the thought of mom having to undergo any kind of surgery at all. (Silver lining: increased “borg queen” vibes.)  

After the chemo, there will be more surgery, including the mastectomy of one breast, and possibly the removal of some lymph nodes.

They might need to do radiation after that.  It depends on how things go.

It’s the very epitome of “Thanks…I hate it.”  Yes, chemotherapy saves lives.  Yes, this is the approved medical route, but these drugs are no joke, and this is a long-ass road ahead.  

I find it hard to deal with the fact that Mom was fine up until the time she found the lump.  Living her life with no idea that this was brewing, and no outward sign of sickness. Cancer can quietly creep along as you lead a full and healthy-seeming life.  

Treating it is so harsh.  It really turns a person’s life upside down. I can’t wait until she’s well again.  (Uh-oh, here comes that lump in my throat again.)

Mom is Still Mom

My mom is an active lady, who routinely makes me wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life.  I am constantly in awe, because the woman just gets things done.  If there is a problem, mom addresses the problem and moves on.  She doesn’t need to meditate or sing a song about it (or write a blog post) she just gets it done.

I’m happy to report that mom is still my mom.  She is constantly off to do something, like taking her fancy car out, or taking the dog in the woods with my dad, or working on some other project.  She did have a couple of more “blah” days after the chemo (more than understandable!) but she is back to being almost as active as before.  (The challenge may be in actually getting her to relax!)

Cancer and Diet?

I find myself wondering about cancer and diet a lot.  Here’s the truth; I don’t understand! Firstly, I wonder about the overall effect of someone’s diet on their likelihood of getting cancer, and what diet can do to prevent it.  Secondly, I have questions about what a person should eat once they have cancer.  

Of course, the hippie in me wants to find some sort of “miracle” fruit or nutritional supplement that knocks out cancer, (so I can give a giant bowl of it to my mom) but so far, I haven’t figured anything out. 

Normally, I would think that a sick person needs lots of healthy foods.  To me, that means plant-based fare with a balanced selection of healthy proteins. Maybe some green juices and smoothies to really amp up the vitamins and minerals coming into the body.

By that logic, I should be at mom’s right now, throwing spinach into a blender.

The only problem with that is, cancer cells are hungry, fast-growing cells.  So, aren’t all of those great nutrients also feeding the cancer?  Would something like a green juice actually help the cancer grow?  Is it better to eat Burger King?  I honestly don’t know!  What does someone who has cancer eat to minimize cancer and maximize their health? (If anyone has an answer, I’d be more than happy to hear it!)

Onwards and upwards,

Jennnq