It was the second of this month a year ago that I left work and headed to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack, but instead found out that I had stage three cancer. Now I’m trying my hardest to join my normal life again. It actually isn’t as easy as you may imagine.
People have been excited for me that I am not actually going to die soon from this disease and that I’ll be making a full recovery soon. I will soon not have cancer in my body any longer and will be on with the rest of my life. People joke that I don’t have to talk about cancer anymore. Most people are happy that I made it to the other side.
I am depressed. I already have dealt with depression before cancer, but this is different. I saw a psychiatrist and have read a lot of articles on post cancer depression, and unfortunately it is very common. I have walked through extreme reality. I have lost the person I was before I was diagnosed. Mortality means something much different than it did before. Not many people I know have walked this path, so there is a sense of loneliness. I can no longer ignore being sick or not. My innocence has been taken.
The fatigue is less and less about chemo and more and more about depression. I can’t blame my moodiness on low testosterone. I can’t get enough sleep and always look forward to not being awake. I still can’t concentrate enough to read a book. I get irritable at tiny things. I’m supposed to be fine now and I’m not.
A lot of blogs and articles talk about the loss of a testicle being a blow to the manhood, but I actually am fine with it. Most people can’t even tell unless they had seen it before. I have more of a hang up with the giant scar running from chest to crotch. I feel ugly with it. It changed the shape and size of my belly button and still gets shy when taking my shirt off in front of people.
It is hard to admit to the depression when everyone is happy that I’m not sick anymore, and expect me to be even more stoked than they are. I feel guilty when I bring up cancer or my depression to anyone. I sometimes act different than I feel when talking about getting to the other side and don’t talk about the sadness and emptiness I feel. I feel like I’ll let everyone down if I embrace my depression.
Every cancer survivor I’ve talked to has said they felt this way for a year or two after getting through treatment. It helps a little to be able to talk about it with someone who has been there too. People who haven’t had cancer seem to not see the world the same as we do.
It felt like the world I lived prior to cancer wasn’t real at all and that cancer opened my eyes to such an intense human experience that I can no longer live in delusion. Big problems seem so petty while the small things seem so important. I can’t see the future anymore without seeing death’s steely stare. The world seems drab and full of bullshit. I don’t want to hear about politics or social stances, but I do want to stare at this leaf dripping rainwater for as long as I can.
It has affected the people in my life including my girlfriend. I am irritated easily, millions of miles away, low sex drive, moody and just depressed. I want to sleep and not deal with anything or anyone. I feel isolated even from people that I’m around all the time. I am starting to know people that come into my work and none of them know that I just had cancer. I don’t even care if they knew that I am a recovering alcoholic or that I am sober, but for some reason I think having had cancer such a huge deal. Then I feel silly if I enter the C word into a conversation because nobody knows how to react to that fact.
A book says, “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.” and I think that is true to what I am facing now. I just wanted to be done with everything and get back to my happy as fuck life, but I have more to go, but the big things are out of the way, but I’ve always known that it isn’t the big things that kill us, it’s the small things. I have to learn patience and learn to be okay being the way I am and not any better or worst.
As I put this blog together, WordPress has reminded me that it is my three-year anniversary for my blog. Two years of silliness and emo blogs and one year of cancer and a controversial taco article. Thank you to all that read this; especially to those that remind me to write this thing and tell me they like it. Fuck you to all the grammar Nazis and other critics who make me want to quit.
I hope to take this blog much more seriously this next year and put up much more of my creative pursuits, or I’ll just check in with emo blogs again with an occasional joke. Stay tuned and have a nice life.