Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nothing Super About This Woman

Again, two weeks have passed since my last blog post.  Am I on the way to being a failed blogger?  Truly, that's not the plan.  Life interrupts, however. 

People keep telling me I am superwoman.  Yikes!  I do not think so.  If I were superwoman I would not be two weeks behind on this blog.  I would also be keeping up with the countless thank you notes that have been haunting me, taking better care of my dad, presenting at our fall art conference, teaching amazing art lessons to my amazing students, keeping my house and car clean, and not becoming completely worthless on the days following chemo.  I am not superwoman on my best days, so for friends to think I am superwoman on my worst days is true benevolence, possibly brought on by pity.  

I think the hero concept can be one of those things where people proclaim someone a hero when that person, not by their own choice, is only doing what anyone else would do if they were in the same situation...but God forbid those other people ever have to be there.  There are people everywhere doing just what I am doing, many doing it much better.  I see these people every three weeks in the chemo room at Highland's Oncology.

But that is not going to stop me from making excuses. 

As usual, once my school year begins, everything else just stops.  I don't know why I thought having cancer would change that.  There are a few things that have changed, though.  I'm not staying at school until dark this year (except for last week),  I'm not going to school on the weekends (except on chemo weekends when, with David's help, I move supplies from one school to the other for my Monday sub), I'm not presenting at, nor am I even attending our annual state fall art conference, and I'm not planning all out high energy art lessons with my students.  We are having a laid back year in the art room.  Thankfully, art concepts and elements may be taught equally well in a complex or simple way, depending.  This year it's all about simple...less is more.  My students/customers are not complaining. God bless them all. 

Yet, with all of these cutbacks, I still go home exhausted each day.  However, the exhaustion this year seems different.  I am drained, and not only my body but my mind seem fried after 5:00.  I have to wonder how much of it is bad mental energy.  Cancer does that to a person.  I find myself longing for just one day when I do not have the cloud of cancer hanging over me.  In my sleep and dreams, I do not have cancer.  I have all of my hair, no port bump under my collarbone, no bad taste in my mouth, and no tumor.  I am just Patti...nothing more or less.  But upon waking, much like during other traumatic events in my life, reality hits and I slowly come to the comprehension that things are different.  What I have to continually remind myself of is that those other traumatic life events, though life changing and horrific, affected me in that way only temporarily.  Eventually I adjusted.  What I am going through right now is the same, a temporary, though unpleasant and unwanted, interruption. 

For the most part, my attitude about this whole episode in my life has been positive.  But I must admit that I continue to fight a number of dark thoughts.  These thoughts often materialize upon waking in the middle of the night.  Have you noticed?  Dark thoughts and darkness just seem to go together...or is that just me?  For the past few days I have been battling one especially dark thought.  It revolves around the fact that my tumor is not getting smaller, as promised.  In fact, from what I can tell, it seems larger.  So, yes, this does wake me with worry at night, among other times.  What I do know about cancer is that there are no promises.  As much as I really, really want to know exactly what the outcome of all of this will be, I have little real control over it.  I pray and call on God for healing daily, but I am not in control of this show.  However, I do know that God is always in control, and so, I lean on that knowledge for peace and strength.
My oncologist, Dr. Beck, wants to wait until the next round of chemo to decide what to do about this non-shrinking tumor, but I don't think I like that idea.  I will be calling my breast oncologist, Dr. Cross, in the morning.  I want to KNOW what is happening inside of me.  If it is growing when it should be shrinking, something needs to change.  If this chemo, that is making me weak for days on end, is not doing it's job, something needs to change.  Of course, this opens a whole new can of worms, and I don't know if my mind is quite ready to go there.

So, not meaning to be a downer, now you know where I am right now.  Not superwoman, but weak woman...insufficient woman...self-pity woman.  And sometimes scared woman. 

I continue to lean on my Lord, as He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And as Paul said,..."I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  (II Cor. 12:9)

The following is my current and ongoing goal, which is easier said than done...
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 4:6-7)

I am so thankful to have a real superhero in my life. 


  1. This post really resonated with me! I suffered from chronic post traumatic stress disorder as the result of childhood sexual abuse. I too, am told frequently, that I am "amazing" and "courageous" and lots of other outstanding traits that I do not feel.

    "I think the hero concept can be one of those things where people proclaim someone a hero when that person, not by their own choice, is only doing what anyone else would do if they were in the same situation" -- this is EXACTLY what I think too. Thank you for wording is so well!

    And yes I do think dark thoughts and darkness conspire together.

    Keep praying, asking, and healing. And know that you have many people on your side whether you are "super" or not!

  2. The only thing I think I would revise on the "Superwoman" description is not that it is what anyone else would be doing in that situation but rather that it is what we HOPE we would do in that situation. I still think of you as Superwoman on Friday for making it to in-service on Friday. Honestly, I had a hard time going after a week of conferences and being slightly sick. I just try to picture what I would be like after a grueling round of chemo and I just imagine pulling the covers over my head. I know you don't feel like Superwoman (and please don't think I think you are or have to be Superwoman all of the time! Last I checked, you were/are very human :). But there are moments that you do things and I could only hope to be that person in that situation. Not that I want to be in that situation, but I have learned in life that we don't always get to choose those moments either. I don't know if any of this is coming out right. I just really wanted to say I appreciate your posts and your honesty. And we are praying over here. I hope you can talk to a doctor about the size of the tumor. Make some noise. Squawk away!

  3. Oh, Patti - I love the way you speak the truth, whether it's YOUR truth or God's truth. Your words touch my heart in so many ways because they are TRUE.

    I remember feeling similar emotions in the midst of our many trials - well meaning friends and loved ones telling us we were an "inspiration" to them, that we were so strong and courageous, that we had incredible faith. I remember the pain, and anger, and frustration - I didn't want to be those things, and didn't feel I was because I knew the thoughts in my head that others could not know. An inspiring/strong/courageous/faithful person wouldn't be thinking the terrible things I thought! I just wanted it all to go away...for things to go back to the way they were before. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and while I still can't see why we endured some of the trials we have, I wouldn't be the person God has made me into without having gone through those trials. And yes, despite my terrible thoughts, we were a blessing to so many others BECAUSE OF the trials we have been through. Like it or not, the same will be true for you. In spite of us in our human-ness, God's glory will always shine through.

    We love you, Patti. Our family prays for you each night, and we all look forward to the day we can celebrate your victory with you!

  4. God gives us the strength (even if it's just enough to lift our head), courage, and whatever else we need when we need it and not before. You are God's woman - He didn't cause this but He will walk you thru it and give you just what you need each step of the way - not too much or too little - just what you need for the moment. He welcomes your questions and doubts. He wants you to voice them to Him - even if it's just with groans. Keep giving them to Him - He is faithful to deliver you. Praying for complete and miraculous healing.