All the things that suck about cancer - a list!

Three times this week, the anniversary of losing one of our twins in utero, someone has randomly brought up the missing twin. These are nice people, all well-intended. One is a sweet little lady who reminds me of a pretty koala. She's a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook and we happened to meet in person at a private dinner at Ravinia on Wednesday. She overheard me say something about our three kids and popped in with, "Oh, but you didn't mean to have three!"

Me, internally: Crap, did I say something about my IUD on social media? I've got to stop sharing.

"Right? You had twins?"

Everyone's cautious eyes darted to me, like I was about to announce a list of beheadings or who made the 7th grade cheerleading squad.

I told her, "We do have three children - five years, three years and one baby. It's okay, you don't know what happened. Yes, we were expecting twins, but one died before birth." It's a fact. I'm not going to shatter into pieces.

Today, someone else brought it up out of nowhere. I thought, this is getting bizarre. This time the questions were more, um, medically curious. I answered just as directly, before stuffing my eyeballs into some needless task like changing a dry diaper. I mean, I didn't want to be rude. [Deadpan stare] I imagine there will be more people in the high corners of my life whom I will see in grocery store lines or at library story times who will look around for the missing car seat. I will give my matter-of-fact summary then, too.

I don't really have time to wallow in anniversaries and bereavement. Nope. I have a whole new life full of problems: struggling to prepare my kids for the impending loss of their special grandparent to cancer, for one.

As I mentioned yesterday, we're dealing with cancer in our family. We're now at the point of Hospice care and pouring as much love into our days as we can.

Allow me to list the things that suck about cancer:

1. Fear. The big fear is the worst outcome, which is happening for our family now. People die. To witness it is full of more complicated emotions than I can or want to express here, but I'll leave the number one thing that sucks about cancer is all the fear and unknowns. It can just steal people, whenever. Like a chupacabra.

2. The decisions. Cancer is not a straightforward disease where you do XYZ and it's gone, like how you take an Advil and Starbucks cocktail to kick a hangover. Cancer is like whack-a-mole. It starts out here and just when you lick it, it pops up over there. Or if it's gone, it might pop up over there, a fear which hovers over your every move like a shadow the rest of your life, even though you're in remission for years. Or all the spouts might spring at once out of nowhere and hi, you have two months to live.

3. It's time consuming. To say cancer is inconvenient is an understatement. Forget plans and trips and anything else on your calendar when cancer is in town. When someone you love needs lots of care, it doesn't matter how much you love that person, you will wish you had time with your own spouse sometimes. I know this time in our lives won't be forever, but that is even sadder. See, you can't even look forward to not having the cancer time commitment because that means the person you're caring for and visiting all the time will be gone. SAD PUPPY BRO. It sucks.

4. It's emotional and none of the emotions are good, at least not usually. I'm not the one with the freaking cancer. I'm not even in the second concentric circle (according to the Ring Theory - read up!) in our family cancer saga. My job supporting someone who is supporting someone with cancer takes its toll, too. But how do you cry and grieve and tell the people you love most how upset you are when it's their mom, not yours? Or it's them! I was consoled this week about my own grief by the woman who was doing the dying. Are you kidding me? How effed up is that? Welcome to cancer. (PS, I did manage a snort-laugh when she promised to haunt me.)

5. GUILT. If you have the cancer yourself, you never know if you're making the right decisions. If you're the family, you feel bad for not being 100% joyous about all the crap you have to do because you love them so much and just think of how much they are suffering. Caretakers suffer too. Caretakers and family members deserve breaks. (The person with cancer gets no break. See? Guilt. We still need breaks though.) It doesn't mean we don't love our people, it's just another way cancer sucks.

If you have any to add, feel free to tell me. We're in this together (but sorry, I hate our club).

Oh shoot, I forgot to list "itchy wigs".

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Filed under: Grief

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