So I’m not going to sugar coat anything. This week has been kind of hard for me. (Thank goodness I don’t have a heavy load of schoolwork this week, otherwise I’d be a wreck right now…).
As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, I battled some sort of sore-throat thingy earlier this week (thankfully, it is now gone!). I’d consider myself one of the lucky ones who don’t get allergies (or at least, I don’t think I do!). I never had ‘em when I lived up North, I never had ‘em when I studied abroad in Australia… and I’ve never had ‘em living here in the good ‘ole South. I guess it’s never too late to develop them, though. Maybe there is something different in the air this year?
Anywho, I woke up on Sunday and could hardly swallow anything (but don’t you worry, I sat through the pain and still forced stuff down anyway– this marathon girl has got to eat!). I never *ever* get sick, so when I’m not feeling 100%, I don’t take it well. I was lucky, though, because the weather outside this past weekend was gorgeous, so I got to treat myself to some quality time outside.
Monday rolled around and I felt like things were looking up… my throat wasn’t hurting *as* bad anymore, and Ryan and I had tickets to my first ever Checker’s game (that’s ice hockey… for those of you who don’t know).
On my 5 minute drive home from work on Monday night, I called my mom to chat… Let me preface this by saying that in the past, my mom has delivered some really hard news on these drives to and from work.
When I first moved to Charlotte, I was headed to a nine hour shift in customer service at the Panther’s Stadium and decided to give my mom a call. She told me that my uncle (my stepdad’s brother) had passed away from complications from a root canal and his diabetes. I still don’t know how I garnered up the strength to have a smile plastered on my face for those 9 hours of talking to demanding customers, but I did it. And it was hard.
Six months later, I decided to give my mom a call as I was driving to a volunteer project to meet my fellow AmeriCorps team members for the annual Charlotte AIDS Walk. On this 5 minute drive, my mom informed me that my beloved puppy, Chance — the adorable Bichon Frise I had grown up with since 8th grade– had gotten into rat poison in the garage while they were out to dinner the night before… and she most likely was not going to make it.
Needless to say, the floodgates opened (oh Hello, the Southern version of Niagara Falls…). I’ve never balled so hard while driving a car in my life. I’m surprised I made it to the event and didn’t end up in a ditch.
When I arrived, my AmeriCorps team was so supportive and told me I could go home if I didn’t feel up for volunteering. I stuck it through, though, and honestly… it helped to stay busy and keep my mind off of it. I was holding onto hope that Chance would make it and that I’d be seeing her precious little face the next weekend when my parents would be driving through Charlotte on their biannual voyage from Florida to Ohio (they’re snowbirds…).
Early the next morning, though, I got another phone call from my mom. This time I was in bed. And that’s where I stayed. Crying. Because they were right, Chance ended up passing away during the middle of the night in my mom’s arms. I wouldn’t be able to see her that one last time. I was heartbroken.
Nevertheless, there is a happy ending to that story. My mom and Gerry ended up getting another bouncing little Bichon Frise a few months later, and named her Bella. I must admit though, I don’t have the same connection to Bella as I did with Chance. But I think its only because I grew up with Chance.
Anywho, moving on…
Like I was saying before, I called my mom on my drive home from work this past Monday. I knew I had a quick turn-around time, as I got off from work a little after 6 and had to change, feed myself and Happy and be back uptown for the game by 7:00PM. I thought I’d tell her all about my weekend and my plans for that night… but right when she picked up the phone she broke the news. My stepdad had been diagnosed with Melanoma earlier that day. BAM. Shock, questions, fear, tears. It all hit me at once. And then I suppressed it. I knew that if I let myself cry, I wouldn’t be able to hold myself together for the game.
Let’s just say I’ve mastered the art of suppressing tears… and it does not feel good. It is hard. And prooobably unhealthy. I do allow myself to *feel,* though…I just don’t like crying in front of people and getting their attention and having people ask what is wrong, ya know?
Anyway, back to the story… I got home, did everything I had to do and was ready when Ryan got home to jet back out the door to attend the game. I shared with Ryan what my mom told me, and he said we didn’t have to go to the game if I wasn’t up for it. I wanted to still go to the game, so we went. I knew staying busy and keeping my mind from wandering would help me ease into the reality. And that’s what I’ve spent the week doing. Accepting everything that might come. Opening myself up to this fear, and allowing myself to feel. And cry. (And you better believe I’ve done my fair share of running, too – thank goodness for tomorrow’s 20 miler!).
You see, I know skin cancer (and melanoma) is not the end of the world. My mom has had about 30 stints of skin cancer (all basil cell and squamous cell, though… never melanoma) and my stepdad himself has also had a few bouts of skin cancer, but like my mom… never melanoma, until now.
I know that if caught early, it is treatable and you can go on and live a normal life. Heck, when I was little (a time when I hardly knew much about anything…read: 6 years old) my 15 year old cousin was diagnosed with melanoma. She had surgery, went through treatment and has not had it since.
So yes, I know that modern medicine is wonderful and this diagnosis is not the end of the world. But it still sucks. And I still feel sad. I’m human. I’m allowed to be sad when a family member is ill. And I’m allowed to have a crappy week when I was expecting to have a good one. I know next week is a whole new week, and we’ll have even more answers by then since Gerry’s surgery is on Wednesday.
Also, I’m pretty sure I’ll be hearing some *super* exciting news next week… news that I’ve been waiting to hear for over a year, now! I’ve been sitting on pins and needles for the past 2 weeks, rushing to the mailbox after work to see if anything is in there… and no luck as of yet. Next week, yes NEXT week… is the week! I can feel it!
Oh, and that sore-throat? It’s peanuts compared to everything else that’s going on in the world…
(…especially for those who live in Japan, my heart truly aches to hear about yet another big earthquake over there…)
(BTW… in no way, shape or form is this post asking for sympathy. I simply find journaling one of the most therapeutic tools out there for me. And I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, and let you all know what’s going on in my life right now).
How do you all deal with hard news? Do you find journaling helpful? Have you, a family member, or close friend ever dealt with melanoma (or cancer in general)? Do you suffer from allergies? Have you ever had a figureative lump in your throat?
Update: If y’all want to support a great cause in the fight against cancer, head on over to ThenHeatherSaid and help support her and her family’s Raffle For Life effort!