Cancer and the other side of me
Yesterday on the JBBC Facebook page, a few of the members of this group wanted to express their support to me for something they had read on my Diary of a Miracle blog. These past few weeks I have been undergoing yet another round of fertility treatment and yesterday I found out that it wasn’t successful. I wrote of my crushing disappointment and despair and these friends wanted to acknowledge this.
While I appreciate their concern, my initial reaction was “oh no” when I saw their messages on Facebook, because I try to keep this aspect of my life separate from what I write here. Mainly because this blog is aimed at a more general experience and I feel that my struggles with infertility is something which won’t be of interest to a more general readership; but also because it is such a private despair, which although I don’t hide it, I am careful who I share it with. I know that those who read my Diary of a Miracle blog are doing so because they are having the same struggles and are like me reaching out to feel less isolated in their journeys. I have found that there is a lot of judgement and condemnation around for those of us who go this route of assisted conception and I try to protect myself from this as much as possible by keeping it contained in a separate blog.
So this being the case, why I am writing all of this here today? I’ve been thinking a lot about those blogs I’ve been reading recently which deal with metastatic cancer, and I felt that this was a whole area I wasn’t addressing sufficiently in Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. The fact that for many their journey with cancer is in a state of limbo and it is not as easy to move beyond this. The fact that depression, anxiety and sadness still stalk us in our days, months, and years beyond cancer. I want to acknowledge that I do understand what it is like to go through dark days, to have to fight through depression and despair. My fight may no longer be with cancer, but it is still a fight – a fight not to go under as I struggle with infertility, my own dark legacy of cancer treatment.
When I first started this blog, I chose to write solely about how my cancer experience had enriched my life (rather than to admit any other darker truth). I did this because I wanted this blog to be about hope – as a young woman newly diagnosed with cancer, I only wanted to hear that there would be a good outcome to all of this and then I wanted to be that survivor with the story of hope for other young women. But in the last year, as I struggled to come to terms with two miscarriages and countless failed fertility treatments, I wanted to write more about the times that hope deserts us, the times that we are filled with despair – not to discourage anyone, but so that those of us who are struggling know that we are not alone.
Sometimes cancer is not the life-affirming, positive experience you read about. It can also rob you of precious things, and leave your spirit broken, your hopes and dreams shattered. Sometimes cancer just sucks…infertility sucks… and life sucks..and then…well then, there are the other times….they are still there too. There is both shade and light in our lives and perhaps the best we can do is to be there for each other through both.