Monday, September 1, 2014

Brave Face

"The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about."

Many of you see the strong side of Michelle, the outside portrayal of my strength. I put a very brave face on for most. Hiding away in the safety of my bedroom and home during my moments of struggle. Immediately after my chemotherapy treatments, the week following, I often do not have the strength for visits, outings or much contact outside my family. Jay and the kids unfortunately have grown quite accustomed to seeing me curled up in a ball in bed most of the day, some days crying from the discomfort and pain of what the chemotherapy drugs are doing to my body. As my treatments have progressed, there have been more days of difficulty and fewer days where I can put my brave face on and smile, laugh and face the world. The cumulative effects of the chemotherapy are building on each other, making the recovery time longer and my good days fewer. Have no fear, my spirit still remains,  even in moments of weakness,  my resolve and strength to fight this disease remain. I guess the point of this blog post is that there are many battles that many people face that we know nothing about. To some, on the outside, with my wig on, makeup, smiles on my selfies, I don't even appear sick. To a select few, the reality is that the chemotherapy treatments are kicking me in the a**.

This past weekend, several of my close friends, girls who have known me since highschool and university saw an inside glimpse of how sick I really am. The "Michelle" Jason sees at home, crossed over into the outside world where I try so hard to be strong and appear in control. Friday night, I so wanted to be normal and have a night out with my three close friends and Jacquie's sweet new baby girl, Summer.  It had been so long since we were all together and I was determined to join them even for a short time. This unfortunately did not go well for me. It soon became clear that I was struggling and I had told Jason it was time to go. I told the girls that I would be needing to leave. Surprise on their faces, what do you mean? We wanted to get one picture of the four of us together, during us getting our picture taken, I began to see spots, blackness and almost fainted. Very quickly my loved ones clicked into gear and I found myself being swept up in their love and caring, lying down with ice on my neck, my feet up, as waves of nausea swept over me. The Michelle I so vehemently try to hide was front and center and it was ok. There was no apologies just acceptance. That is how you know that you are in the company of true friends. Thank you Jacquie, Donna and Sharleen and your significant others, my body was reminding me that there will be times that I can't put that brave face on and that I need to let my friends see what's really happening to me and take care of me.

And so my 10th treatment and the end of Cycle 5 has passed. I am in recovery mode once again. Everyone keeps reminding me that I am so close to the end but to be honest, the last two treatments seem overwhelming and they just seem to be getting harder on me each time. I am on my second round of antibiotics for the urinary tract infection as it has not yet cleared up, so the discomfort from that continues to cause difficulties for me. Strangely, I am also dealing with increased nausea through this weekend which has not been typical for me. But I am learning that I need to adjust my sails continually and that predictability has not been the case for the past few treatments.

Thank you to our dear friends Jim and Cory who hosted a great dinner on their beautiful deck, something that was much needed for me. I thank God and am grateful that our son Cam was not more seriously hurt when he had a mishap on his bike this weekend. Everyday we are reminded how we take simple things for granted. Our two kids are both in highschool this year, I am so proud of the individuals they have become and look forward to getting up tomorrow morning to see them off on their first day. I look forward this week to an oncologist appointment to learn more about my next steps and hopefully a visit with some dear friends, one of whom is facing her own inward battle of true strength.

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