People ask me how I am feeling all the time since I have been through the treatment portion of breast cancer, it is different from the regular hey, how’s it going question, they are genuinely concerned. It is very nice to have people care and show this level of concern, even with the price it came with. I don’t know how to answer the question effectively. Mostly because there isn’t a quick answer such as fine or ok or something of the like. I often include an unspoken ‘considering’ in my response, it seems the most honest.
On good days, full of energy, good recall and no gaps in memory it is easy, the answer is indeed fine with an inclusion of starting to feel like I might get back to myself again. These days are much more common now a year from last chemo. It usually gives me pause, do I want to feel like I did prior to cancer or do I want more? It turns out I want more. I want to feel like I did at 25. We all do, right? It is vitally important to remember that I am not 25 and when I don’t feel like I am 25 again I shouldn’t judge my day harshly. Hallmarks of a good day are good energy, good recall and no big gaps in memory are called out and a strong desire for tomorrow to be as good or better.
On lesser days, less energy, slower recall, big gaps in memory are obvious and in the forefront it is more difficult to answer. Today stinks seems so ungrateful, every day of survival is a good day and beats the heck out of the alternative. Today I wish cancer never happened, I wish the after effects of treatments weren’t still taking their toll, I wish I were 25 again seems so contrary to someone who had the best possible outcome from a cancer diagnosis, making this a wholly inappropriate response. The checklist for these days is simple, am I still around to experience all of the crap I am complaining about– then it is a good day stop complaining and try for a better tomorrow.
Then there are the bad days, no energy, even slower recall and the gaps in memory are cause for tears, these days are often accompanied by pain, not as much as during treatment, but a presence that is unpredictable. These days when people ask how I am feeling it is different, they know, it is written all over my body and facial expressions. This answer is you know, could be worse, hoping tomorrow is better, grateful to be here. These days very, very thankfully appear fewer and further between with each passing day. The prevailing thought on these days is gratitude at how long its been since the last one and try to make tomorrow better.
It never occurred to me that it would take this long and longer to feel like myself again. I was naive and thought when treatments were over and the rough side effects passed, voila! life would resume and be normal again. I am very grateful for the outcome and even more grateful that so many people care enough to ask how I feel and for the moment it gives me to reflect on just that, what it means I have come through and what I am working toward, a significant number of better tomorrows.