Facing Facts

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would be honest with everyone.  I’ve tried to shield people from some of the slightly more personal bodily function details that might be gross (sorry, but the next blog is taking down that wall).  Emotionally, I think I’ve tried to be really strong; I thought I had hit the acceptance phase of grief.  Perhaps I was still trapped in denial.  I knew there was a chance that cancer might take my life, but I never allowed myself to believe it.  I was going to fight and win.  They’d write stories about my defying the really horrible odds.  Ten years from now, our kids would hear how mommy had been sick and lived.

When I was a teenager, my faith in God went through a major crisis unrelated to the typical teenage doubts.  I would pray, often in fact, for one thing in particular.  God never seemed to listen.  I didn’t understand: I wasn’t praying for good test scores, a car or even that some random boy would like me.  I was praying for God’s help in a situation that I had no control over, a situation that left me at times severely depressed and, according to a counselor, suicidal.  God never listened.  It was fifteen years before my faith resurged and it was mostly thanks to one man: my husband.  Finding him felt like the prayer had been answered, albeit late.  Now, I’m starting to find that faith slipping again.  God is starting to appear cruel.

Please allow me to backtrack and explain why.

While my CT scans were still not back –thanks hospital people!—the MRI was.  As we’ve already covered, the results aren’t exactly the ones we were hoping for.  In fact, Dr. Brooks agreed that being this far in (one-third the way planned), he was hoping that there would be some shrinkage.  He wanted concrete evidence that we were on the right track.  Though the tumor isn’t growing and, therefore, we know these drugs could prolong my life –if I want chemo three weeks a month until I decide I’m done or the cancer decides to stop responding to the drugs that is—they aren’t doing what we want, which is shrinking the tumors.  He mentioned two oral medications we could try and the fact the he is looking into research studies I might be able to participate in.  Dr. Brooks wants a drug that is going to work.  He wants remission.

Yet, as he kindly told me today when I pushed for some kind of answer on where this might be going as the current treatment is failing, there is no cure.  Cancer, in general, has no cure.  Remission is the best case scenario and my cancer doesn’t exactly have the best rates of remission.  Are there people that he thought would die in a month that are still living?  Yes.  Are there others that failed when he thought they’d live?  Yes.  I am, as he said, an anomaly and definitely not a statistic.  Realistically, though, there’s a chance I am going to die.  Chemo will buy me time; how much time we have no idea, but my specific type of cancer is especially bleak in the numbers game.  I might have a year, I might have ten years…finding a cancer cure would be my only and best bet, but we need to at least find a drug that will put my cancer in remission.

I haven’t really been able to bring myself out of the funk since.  I know I asked, it’s my own fault for being so damn inquisitive, but hearing him say that I could die, especially as this tumor is not responding to the traditional treatment, was very disheartening.  All the hope I’ve held on to, the positive attitude, crumbled.  Perhaps it was all a façade anyway.  I think I was trying to be brave and strong for everyone else.  Keeping cool under pressure is my thing.  Maybe I really needed to hear just how vague and bleak it could be to truly manage the stages of grief.  We all knew I had anger under control; rational people do not want to take bricks to car windows.  I hadn’t really done the bargaining thing.  I thought I had successfully navigated denial, not remained so steadily in it, and had even done the depression thing.

Instead, I find myself in a major crisis of faith, trapped in the stages of denial and depression.  Honestly, what kind of “loving father” tortures his children this way?  What kind of God dangles hopes and dreams in front of a girl, teases the thirsty with a sip of water only to prove it’s all sand?  He gave me this amazing husband, taunted me with the hope of fifty years with him, children and grandbabies; now He wants to rip it all away?  He ignored the pleas of a child in serious need of help, only to possibly take her life when she finally feels safe, loved and secure?  How is that fair?  How is that kind and loving?  This isn’t some test to me; this is my life.  I’m done with the “He won’t give you more than you can handle.”  I can’t handle this! I don’t want to handle this!  I want the life He offered me back.  I want to believe in Him again and it’s so damn hard.  I want my life.

I’ve said this a lot, but I am going to reiterate it.  I don’t want to die.  I had plans and dreams; my husband and I promised each other fifty years.  Monday, we celebrate our first anniversary.  I thought we’d be pregnant by now.  We had plans to move somewhere else together and raise a family.  I wanted that.  I still want that.  I feel like there has to be something I’ve done to deserve all this pain and suffering.  Admittedly, I wasn’t a great child.  I told lies.  I did plenty of things I’m not proud of and wish I could take back, but I can’t.

Right now, I’m rather numb.  Crying does that to me.  I’m trying to dig out of this rather deep pit I fell into today.  I’m clutching to hope like a limb on the side of a rock face preventing me from slipping further down.  My desire is that I will be able to restore my faith and determination in beating the cancer so that I can have those fifty years.

Tonight, though, I’m letting myself wallow.  Anyone want a brownie?

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11 thoughts on “Facing Facts

  1. Maret says:

    I am so sorry. I hate that you are going thru this. I still believe you will get thur it but it sucks that you have to deal with it. On the god thing I can’t help I don’t believe in an all powerful god thing but find what will help get you thru it.

  2. (B) says:

    I’m in. (on the brownies.)

    So. I am so sorry. From here, it is so surreal. My mind screams “Not fair! Not fair! Why?” But I can get past that a bit because I have more emotional distance than your closer family members. I don’t even know you (I didn’t really talk to you much at reunion) except for this blog. From this blog I know you as …

    a wonderful person who has touched and changed my life.

    So. I hope today you feel better, and physically well. I wish you and Milo could go to Hawaii for your anniversary. Or the next week would be good…

    (If I say the wrong things, I am sorry. I can’t even imagine being in your place, I just want to reach out. You should swear colorfully at me if I say anything that hurts you.)

    One more thing. My faith is strong, and obviously very stupid. There is no understanding this. None. I can’t try to make sense of it. So I don’t. I do believe in miracles. But I am not in charge. (Usually I am okay with that.)

    Whoops. One more thing. I am still mulling over your super power. You have so many! You are a passionate person, but Passionate Girl does not have the right ring to it. Does it? You have lots of people reading your blog–maybe someone can help.

    Much love.

  3. (B) says:

    How about

    “Humor in the Face of Adversity Girl” ?
    “Clear Vision with Steady Optimism Woman” ?
    “Gets More Done in a Day with Cancer than Some of Us Get Done in a Lifetime Woman”?

    (Not quitting my day job to apply at Marvel.)

    (Seriously, your humor and realism are amazing, and uniquely you. You can’t know how powerful and good that is…)

  4. Tawnya says:

    Janine- u know I’ve told u on many occasions that u are probably THE most intelligent and unique people I’ve ever known ….and it’s true! Since I can’t see into the future, I won’t blow hot air up ur butt…..I will, however, tell u that ur type of cancer is slow growing AND the chemotherapy has kept it from getting bigger. Two VERY important facts. Let’s fight this!! We have “Janine’s Cancer Army and Support Society” on our side. I’ve also told you for 8 years that your writing talent is a true gift…..u amaze me. Use it Janine, use it to reach others, to shed honesty on the monster of cancer and show others how to face it w strength and dignity. In this process of helping others and writing your story, you will gain so much I promise. I prayed for you this morning as I always do…..it certainly can’t hurt right? I get the anger thing…..I’ve also prayed since I was a little girl w no result. But I figure if my only gift and miracle in life is knowing I am loved by my husband, family, friends and I’ve been able to help others in any way, then so be it. But while I’m here and able, dammit I’m gonna fight with every ounce of fight I have! You will do this too!!! You ARE so strong, I know what you’ve been through and what you’re capable of. Let’s get to living eh! I love you soooo much ❤ Tawnya

  5. Tawnya says:

    ** intelligent and strong PERSON (dumb auto correct) 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    Janine, my dear sister-in-law…

    Please accept my appologies in advance if this seems a bit blunt, but right now as I cry and pray for you and read your post, I see no other option.

    If you do not let our wonderful God into your life, you will never be able to “see” all the wonderful blessings he bestows upon us everyday. It is not until you give your life up to Him (after all He is the one who gave us life) that you will begin to trust and belive in the mystery that we call Faith! I pray for you and Milo. I pray that you can turn to a priest, a minister, or a faith community to help you through these trials. I pray that you will find peace and understand that we can not control everything but what we can do is continue to surround ourselves with those we love and who love us back and pray and work as a team in the name of Our Lord to help you get through this trying time!

  7. Mary says:

    Janine, when you share your thoughts, not only does that help me understand YOU, but it also helps me to understand what my brother must be going through. His cancer is pancreatic, and he ‘beat it’ a year ago, (so we thought), but it has returned in his lungs, and probably other places. I am sure that thoughts like ones you have expressed have also been going through his mind; even tho he is quite a bit older, his dreams of the future have been crushed, and all of his family feel so helpless. We pray, but that doesn’t feel like enough. We who love those who suffer also suffer – from frustration, from anger. We go through those stages of grieving, too, directed at the cancer (never at the patient) which destroys hopes and dreams.
    My thoughts and prayers will be with you all the way. You are so young to be facing this horrible battle, but “the greatest gift in all the world is to love and be loved in return.” You have already achieved that, many times over!
    ~ Mary Sue

  8. Elana says:

    Janine, I went through a lot of the same sentiments when Alex was going through the roughest of times… but she, like you, is one of the strongest people I have ever met. I can’t say I have yet figured out the “why” but I just have to keep on going… regardless if I ever find an answer… it took me awhile to go back to temple, but I got there…and whether or not you do, you still have plenty of people rooting for you and supporting you, even from afar. We love you and despite the distance (around the world) we are thinking of you and will be praying for good news. Love, Elana (and family.

  9. River says:

    I am very sorry to read this current post. I have nothing to say as a “nearly-lapsed” Catholic. I can tell you that I have lit a candle for you – which is MY form of meditation and prayer. For what it’s worth, I want you to know that a lot of people are thinking about you.

    It’s hard to see the “why” of this. I, too, have prayed for things which remained unanswered, and like you, it wasn’t about a grade or a crush…it was serious crap that was totally out of my control. And it hasn’t yet occurred to me in my mid-50s if those prayers were ever answered.

    All I can tell you is that I hope for a calm place for you. I hope that through your writing, you attain a measure of grace and know that you have reached many people, and that we all wish the best for you.

  10. Lyn says:

    Souds like you need a “special brownie”, baby girl. This is NOT your fault, you did NOTHING to deserve this, and there are so many people who love you unconditionally. I’m having big questions, too, more about religion than about God — I do believe there’s a spiritual world that’s a better one than this. I don’t know what to do to comfort you (as I’m sitting here sobbing). You DON’T always have to be optimistic and strong (as I’ve learned the hard way, not that my diseases compare to yours in any way, shape, or form). Please just know that you and Milo are incessantly in my thoughts and heart. I love you so very much!! XOXOXOXOXO Lyn

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