Let me tell you something you probably already know. That is, cancer isn’t all rainbows and butterflies; it’s a vile, nasty disease that destroys everything in its wake. I should know; I’m a stage III colon cancer survivor who in the aftermath of this disease is still struggling to recover my so-called life.
But lately I gotta be honest; I can’t stand how lots of people want to pretty-up this sickening illness. Sure, you can put lipstick on a pig — i.e. the pig being cancer — but in the end it’s still a pig. And trust me on this one, there’s not enough lipstick in this world to disguise what cancer does to people’s lives. Cancer is what it is — appalling, obnoxious, disgusting, dreadful, foul, even loathsome. But it’s definitely not sugar and spice and everything nice!
So why can’t we just get real about cancer?
Cancer is more than highly unpleasant; it downright sucks. And with the fight before and after cancer (if you’re lucky enough to have an after) comes pain and frustration.
With that being said I think it’s OK — more than OK — to admit to ourselves cancer is hard and sometimes (alright, lots of times) it’s scary, too.
I remember somewhere between the CT scans, PET scans and MRIs I felt scared — really scared. Before I could start chemotherapy I needed to have a port put into my chest to preserve my veins from collapsing. The first round of chemo lasted 10 weeks, in addition to radiation twice a week. And can you believe it, when the hospital implanted the port, they gave me MRSA, a potentially dangerous staph infection. The site was swollen, red and pus-filled, not to mention extremely painful.
Thus in an attempt to save the port I was forced to sit for hours in an infection specialist clinic. Each and every day for five weeks I received antibiotics intravenously. My particular strain of MRSA was resistant to the first-line antibiotics, so I returned to surgery, not once but three times. You bet I was exhausted after the placement of three ports, two temporary catheters, two rounds of chemo, surgery to remove the tumor and radiation.
Talk about feeling like a f**king pincushion!
And while I was facing all of this my husband would scream over and over, “Get the f**k up and carry your fair share of the work around here!” It didn’t matter I was in a pretty fragile state, very weak and often vomiting. Over and over he would tell me to stop being a victim.
Forgive me for cursing but I want to be honest, and when I feel it appropriate, I curse. (FYI — cancer, and in my case an abusive marriage, are great reasons to curse up a storm). So if you or someone you know is feeling the current or post-effects of cancer, all I can say is I feel your pain and please hang in there!
Thankfully I’m in remission now, but I’m definitely still struggling to recover from rampage of this hideous disease. Cancer didn’t just injure my body; it destroyed me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially. Although cancer was a mixed blessing — proving since my husband couldn’t carry me, he didn’t deserve to marry me.
The whole experience became a catalyst for my recent memoir “RAW: One Woman’s Journey through Love, Loss, and Cancer.” But be forewarned: my book is not for the faint of heart. Some readers might find the content offensive since I refuse to blow rainbows out my ass after facing abuse, divorce and bankruptcy. Holy smokes, I even survived spousal abandonment during my cancer diagnosis.
Any way you dissect it; “RAW” is raw — really raw. It’s real life, real pain and it understands cancer is shocking, frightening and messy. But that’s not to say my story is not filled with hope. It is.
There really can be a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or after a long and difficult battle with cancer.
This post was previously published on HuffPost.
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