I disappeared for awhile. I’m entitled. Excuse the language, Mom and Dad, but depression is a bitch. I never truly understood what depression was until it attacked me sometime between my third and fourth rounds of chemo. I walked around Mom’s house crying, daily. I didn’t believe I’d get well, and more to the point, I wasn’t sure I was worthy of being healed. Even if I did go into remission, I’d turned into such damaged goods, who’d want to take me on? What was I doing with my life that made me worthy to be healed? Thankfully, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and my oncologist could see how unhappy I was. (Crying in the middle of an appointment might have been a tip-off.) Her compassion and lack of judgment made it easier to explain how badly I needed help. And I found a cancer survival group geared towards young adults. I found a shrink. Chemicals helped alter my personality into depression; I now take an anti-depressant to recalibrate.
I suppose I should feel more ashamed of all these medical issues. But I have enough narcissism and altruism to think people need to hear what I have to say. Not necessarily because I’m the one who’s having them, but because I can’t be the only one who’s having them. I created this blog as a way for people to realize they weren’t alone. Infertility issues, mental health issues, cancer issues, face-mortality-at-a-young-age issues—I wanted people to know they weren’t alone. But there are days I worry this kind of honesty is going to come back and bite me. At the risk of sounding shallow, how am I going to attract a man when I come with what must be the human equivalent of a Carfax report that says “Rachel Boyd is a lemon”?
In spite of all this, I begin to have tenuous steps towards remission. You guys missed my story of radiation. Twenty-eightish days of basically being microwaved while being strapped down to a table while wearing a plastic mask that promotes claustrophobia… The stuff fetish magazines are made of. But I celebrated my last radiation treatment by going to the DC/Virginia area for a much-needed visit to one of my bff’s, Liz, and her newish boyfriend (whom I got to give the Friend Judgment to) and a beloved cousin’s wedding. In all honesty, my health and energy levels would have been better served by staying home and watching Good Eats and One Tree Hill. But seeing my friends and my family was my reward and my treat. Liz and the Minicks had been so supportive from Minute One of my diagnosis that I wanted them to see their prayers didn’t go unanswered.
And now I begin healing. I’m back at work daily, though often interrupted for doctors’ appointments. I finally moved in with my long-suffering roommate. I’m meeting people: nice girls my own age to make friends with, cute boys. I’m baby-sitting again. I got to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” with my favorite charge, complete with hand motions. It was the healthiest I’d felt in months. The gods’ honest truth is I have a good chance to beat cancer. But my age and gender and the severity of my particular cancer mean there’s also a very good chance I’ll relapse. If don’t relapse, side effects from the radiation like breast or lung cancer might get me.
I might also die of a stroke, hit by a car, or poisoned in a trendy restaurant. If I don’t enjoy living a bit more, what was the point of getting well in the first place?