One Wake Up

TW: I talk about my radiation, cancer, body image and body parts in this post.

In case you want to know what teaching on 12/21, 12/22 and 12/23 is like during a pandemic, add getting radiation every day to it for kicks. The tired is legendary.

I’m so tired. It’s a different tired than I’ve ever known, with major dizziness and muscle aches. It’s not as debilitating as say, sleep deprived mom with a 6 week old colicky baby. But it’s not great.

My breast feels like it’s going to shrivel up and end up inside my armpit. Perhaps it will just melt off my body. Maybe it’s going Benjamin Button. When my breast was a little bud I could move it all over my chest. Maybe it’s going back to the beginning. My nipple is always sore and feels foreign. And my surgery scar has sunken in, and now my areola on the right side, along with my scar and half of my breast, are creepily numb. The effects of the radiation have, in 5/16 treatments, changed my breast significantly. I put up a vintage mirror last weekend that I thrifted and painted, and now I can see everything in full length. It’s a mixed blessing.

I’m struggling with knowing I can’t do anything to mitigate unfortunate side effects like weight gain. None of this has made me gain weight, I have the pandemic to thank for the 10+ pounds I put in this year. Running and hiking and walking made me more fit, but still bigger than feels comfortable. Giving up dairy (mostly) has been the bigger change, and half of that weight came off. My naturopathic oncologist wants me to eat 90 g of protein A DAY during radiation. I try so hard but I think I’ve gotten to 50, maybe once. It’s mostly a lack of brain space to plan meals and inability to stomach eating much. It’s like pregnancy-not everything sounds appetizing.

Yet I’m so triggered by the “it is not ok to diet during treatment” statements I see in all the nutrition and cancer research I’ve done. I wasn’t on a diet before. I don’t want to be on a diet. And yet I feel deeply uncomfortable with “NOT” being “allowed to.”

I said today after class, as we were walking out for pick up “oh my goodness, we made it, one wake up left.”
A kiddo-you know the one, we all have the kiddo that needs everything-says “you wanna be rid of us? Wow, that’s not nice.”
I reiterated that I love my students but teaching right up to Christmas with cancer and in treatment this whole {damn}[said in my head] last few months has left me feeling like I could really use a few days off to sleep. And I still have to go to radiation all vacation long. I told the kid I love them but I’m so tired.

The other kids looked at said child like “dude.”
Then one said “yeah, if I had to go in that big mixer (what the machine looks like, I showed them) and get radiation I’d be worn out.”

I have started to admit to myself that I am actually sick this week. That I am fighting something and having to dig pretty deep to deal with the side effects of all I’ve been through while being in class every day and trying to have any-ANY-spark like I usually have. I have to sit a lot more than I wish I had to.

It’s. A lot.
I’m really ok.

Every day is new opportunity to learn about myself and the world.

I’ll take it.

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