Now I'm a member of 2 elite clubs: of course, the cancer/chemo club as well as the struggle-with-fertility club (I loathe the word infertility). It's difficult to be in both at the same time because many people think that one trumps the other.
Having cancer doesn't make it any less difficult to not be pregnant or to have had all the babies I've dreamed of. This doesn't mean I am not happy for people who are celebrating births around me, and I certainly don't want to make any of my expectant friends uncomfortable by writing this. But it's bittersweet for me. It does make it hard to see pregnant stranger after pregnant stranger (don't forget all of the pregnant doctors and nurses who have treated me in the past 2 months). It makes it hard to hear stories of friends of friends who are pregnant with their second and third children. It seems like I have been a magnet for other people's success stories. Even my mother has witnessed it, after telling me I was imagining it because it was on my mind so much, a man in Panera came up to us to tell me he had a child the same age as Judah and guess what? His wife just had twins, too! Isn't that wonderful? Oh yes, just dreamy. The only other people who can identify with this kind of hurt are those who have already suffered through it, much like cancer.
Believe it or not, there are even cancer survivors who tell inappropriate tales ("You have NHL? My friend had NHL as a teenager and then, can you believe she was later diagnosed with breast cancer?"). I'm not really interested in hearing any of these types of stories. The stories I want to hear are short and sweet. They are about women who are exactly like me, surviving chemo and cancer (with toddler in tow also avoiding lifelong scarring) and retaining their fertility, going on to have more healthy children and living long, healthy lives. I want to know that lots of them are out there and that I am going to soon be a member of that club.
It's especially difficult to deal with my fertility issues when I am in my 3rd week of treatment. I feel better - no itching or breathing problems, I'm driving again and socializing even. I'm just bald and my neck hurts when in different positions due to the port catheter that meets up with a major vein on my collar bone. My point is, I don't always feel like I'm in the cancer club, which can (in my case) be a major emotional setback. My first priority, obviously, is to heal from this lymphoma before even thinking about conceiving again. However, it's not that simple. I spent a year and a half trying to get pregnant already. Many a tear did fall long before my doctor informed me there was a mass in my chest. My (our) longing for another child did not disappear just because I was diagnosed with cancer. And now, I've found it returns with a vengeance when I'm feeling well enough to feel like myself.
I never used support groups (although I did see a therapist, don't worry) because I never wanted to hear stories that were worse than mine (this is the primary reason to stay away from google when dealing with medical ailments - diagnosed or unexplained). You can never un-hear them or un-read them. These horror stories stick with you forever and tend to overshadow (for me, at least) all of the hopeful ones.
My point is, especially for all of you lucky people who are members of none of these clubs, be careful what stories you share with us card carriers. I know (most) people mean well, but you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions...
Someone asked me a while back to write about how I feel blogging has added to my healing process. I would have to say it's been a major creative and emotional outlet for me. It started out as a way for me to update people and keep everyone in the medical loop and I did not foresee people other than my close friends and family tuning in. I'm thrilled that so many people passed it on and are sharing it with others. I've reconnected with so many incredible people from my past who I had lost touch with because of it (and facebook, of course). And I am so grateful for the constant flow of concern and support. My blog has become an easy way for me to both guide others as well as to personally vent (albeit, quite publicly) and let go of many of the issues that clog up my positive attitude.