The last quarter of 2009 sucked. A lot. We all know why, no reason to rehash it all over again. 2009 was a terrible year for disease in general. I had three friends relapse, two friends received second transplants, two received their first transplants, and one died. Yikes. You can see why I was anxious for 2009 to just be over and done with.
Not that 2009 was all bad. I continued to enjoy my job in France and improve my French skills, I hope I made a difference in the lives of a few French kiddies, I traveled and especially enjoyed my vacation in Austria and Hungary with Leesa, I developed some very close friendships, and even though I didn't end up with a job that provided me with a visa to stay in France (which turned out to be a good thing), I did get called in for a few interviews, so the letters and CV that I put together were pretty successful.
Despite these good things, my memories of 2009 will always be shaded by the bad things that happened. I closed out the year ready for something new. I felt drained of optimism and hope, crushed by yet another relapse, the sheer number of pills I have to take every day (hint: over 30), my loss of independence, loss of an interesting life, and the lack of a job or classes or anything to motivate me to get out of bed and get dressed and showered on a daily basis (but just so we're clear, I still do, I just don't have a real reason to and most days I don't want to). I can't even use food as a crutch because it doesn't taste good or has no flavor.
There's a lot of "tyranny of positive thinking" out there when it comes to cancer. Sure, a positive attitude is important and you have to go in fighting for a positive outcome, but when it comes down to it cancer sucks a lot and both the patient and her supporters have to be able to be honest about that and acknowledge it. First, chemotherapy is absolute hell. You can't imagine that you could ever feel so bad. Then, not only is it totally dehumanizing to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself, but even more damaging are the changes you have to make to your life because of the treatments and not having a functioning immune system. The contrast between my life six months ago, when I was living in France, and my life now, living with my parents and unable to leave the house except to go to the doctor, is so absolute and soul crushing that it breaks my heart. Everyone thinks they want some time off, a little vacay to do absolutely nothing, but I can tell you, doing nothing gets really old really fast. There are only so many days in a row that you can lay on the couch watching TV and movies. And I do not have other options. I can't leave the house and go out in public because my immune system is still too weak. I'm not even supposed to drive. Stupid medications.
Not to mention, I'm going to have to start another chemotherapy regimen in the next couple of months because it is extremely probable that I will relapse again and we are trying to avoid that. But because my situation is so rare - a relapse in the digestive tract several years after a bone marrow transplant - there isn't any established plan of care so we're making it up as we go. I love my doctor and have absolute confidence in him and I know he's working really hard to come up with the best plan of action for me, but it also tells us something that he has to work so hard to try and keep me alive. That has a big hand in my lack of hopefulness and positivity.
And there you have it, the honest truth about being a cancer patient. Or at least a bone marrow transplant patient. I have no idea what kind of schlocky crap they are feeding to the nation over on Brothers and Sisters or Grey's Anatomy because I absolutely refuse to watch it, but this is my reality.
So my wish for the New Year is to have a little more hope for my future, a renewed outlook, more energy so that I feel like doing something besides lying on the couch all day, and fewer days where I feel emotionally blah.
Obviously a lot of the work towards a more positive me comes from me making positive changes in my life and actively working towards being happier, so I really don't need anyone to tell me that in the comments.
My other resolution is to be a nicer person. Not that I'm a mean person, but one can always be nicer.