January 30, 2012

Lately, I spend a lot of moments living in a perpetual state of overwhelmedness.

The reasons for this seem to run the gamut on a spectrum of emotional possibilities.

I feel bewildered by the amount of decisions I still have to make.

I have to figure out which course of treatment I want to take where chemotherapy is concerned.  This entails reading thick stacks of literature about chemicals and medicines filled with scientific jargon that is sometimes difficult for my arts-geared mind to sift through.  Also, since my cancer is feeding off of my own estrogen, I have to decide just how aggressively I want to go about shutting down my ovaries in an effort to starve any more life-sucking cells that might be residing in my body.  Which leads to lots of decisions about how I want to prepare for a future where fertility might still be achievable.  And this particular dilemma is the one I have been buried in for the past few days.

Before cancer, if you had asked me if I wanted children, my answer would have been, “Yes.  I want children more than anything.  I think nurturing young minds and providing a safe and loving home for children who truly need one is the most important thing I could fathomably do with my life.  Which is why I want to adopt.”  Always.  I have wanted to adopt. But suddenly… the possibility of creating life with my future husband might disappear.  Get ripped away.  This thought drowns both my mind and my heart in panic.

Panic consists of a long circular stream of thought that goes something like this:

Should I freeze my eggs?  Will they remain viable if they are frozen unfertilized?  Is it even smart to have hormone therapy injections  that would allow for egg harvesting when I know that my cancer is feeding off of my hormones?  How can I afford to have this procedure done?  How can I afford the cost of storing my eggs for the next however many years it takes to be physically recovered enough to carry a child? Can my body handle this procedure along with everything else?  Can my being handle the loss of my ovaries along with the loss of my breasts?  But if my boobs are gone and the possibility of giving birth is gone, what still makes me a woman?  So… should I freeze my eggs?

Any decision I make right now will be emotionally based. And if I go through with this, at what point will my logical self resurface to say… “Really?  You did this?  You want to adopt, remember?”

The burden of uncertainty has become unbearable.

Then there are moments where it’s sadness that hits hard. Over what I have lost and what I might continue to lose.  At one point this past week, my oncologist (Dr. P) talked me through all of the potential side effects of treatment.  I broke down, virtually shouting at him, “If I lose the ability to do all of these things I want to do, what’s the point of even fighting?”  This single thought has continued to cause tears to well up unexpectedly over the most unusual things. (This morning it was over a nurse saying ‘IV’.  Seriously.)

There are moments where joy is what overcomes.  Sunsets are beautiful.  Food tastes great.  The people in my life are hilarious and kind.  My dog is ever-protective.  My heart beats strong.  Love flows unconditionally from those I hold most dear.

Fear, is another one that gets me.  Tomorrow morning, they will surgically implant a port into my chest that will be used for blood draws and administering chemo.  There will be a tube that runs under the skin from said port all the way up into my neck.  Everything about this terrifies me.  One more thing that will be different about me.  And I am exhausted from all of the ways that my body no longer feels like my own.

But mostly, I am astounded by the amazing outpouring of generosity coming from people in all corners of my life. From JH walking the wonder pup every morning to news of a care package from the Avett Brothers (yep!) to the unbelievable amount of funding that so many have donated to help with medical costs.  It blows my mind daily… the capacity human beings have to care for one another.

It is this that reminds me of how trials keep us close to virtue.

Through every step that is shaky… for each doubt and fear… I am met with the goodness and strength of others.

I am blessed.  I am loved.  I am overwhelmed.


10 Responses to “Overwhelmed”

  1. Kathleen Swift Says:

    Sweet Gwen~You are deeply loved ~ I have no wonderful words of Wisdom to offer~just prayers and love~

  2. Sarah R Says:

    Gwen, you are the amazingest of all the amazings. Breathe deeply and fear not. Here are some happy things: butterflies, that smell when it first starts to rain in the mountains, misty mornings, daffodils, dandelions and wishies, lightning bugs, spider webs with dew, ladybugs, that first really good stretch that you take in the mornings, dogs, friends, clouds that look like ugly people, an afternoon with nothing to do, the smell that all backstages seem to possess, freckles, dimples, laugh lines (both at the mouth and at the corners of eyes), belly laughs, belly buttons, your mama jokes, all things miniature (golf, ponies, etc), hot dogs, stars- shooting and regular, fireworks, tree swings. Love, Love, Love you.

  3. mariflies Says:

    Beautiful expression of just a few of the many emotions that this disease causes. Thank you for sharing these moments.

  4. Carey Says:

    I know you don’t know me, but I want you to know that I am rooting for you and praying for you. You have such a beautiful spirit. Continue to stay strong and count it all joy. Despite everything, there is always joy to be found.

  5. Marcia Shaver Says:

    Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for you. I am glad you have such a gift to express your feelings. Keep talking and know that there are many that are praying for you and you know that you are strong and you can overcome this.

    Let those around you carry you and keep being strong as I know you can.


    Marcia Shaver

  6. Adeana Lopez Says:

    Gwen, I think about you every day. I’m so glad that along with the expected emotions of grief you describe so well and so honestly, you feel some joy along the way. Your choices are hard ones, but you’ll make the right decisions for yourself. Just keep riding things out with that miraculous optimism I can tell you keep alive.

  7. Jen Kaucher Says:

    I can not even begin to imagine the decisions you have to make both logically and emotionally. Trust in God and He’ll help you through. You are an amazing women and friend Gwen and I am praying for you. Your outlook on life is amazing and I am thankful you are surrounded by people who love and care for you. Support teams are awesome always! Hugs!

  8. Gale Says:

    Your strength and energy overwhelm me. You have captured your experience so articulately, my eyes welled up while I read. I have just finished my chemo and know that you will go through much more before you are done. It is obvious to me that you will remain blessed, loved and overwhelmed throughout. Thank you for reminding me of what I have been through, beautifully written.

  9. Karen Thompson Says:

    Beautiful little Gwen, your creativity shines through with all the expressions you’ve shared since this ordeal began for you, and I’m certain the strength and spirit you’ve displayed so far will keep you going. Your blog is powerful, touching, heart-rending, and I think of you daily. I’m glad you have such a supportive community around you there, and the umbrella of those of us who know and love you just keeps growing and growing. Love you much!

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