“well, you *look* great,” (by Judy)

people often tell me. “If I didn’t know you had cancer, I wouldn’t think you were sick at all,” one person said.

One of the great ironies of my cancer is that I look fine, healthy in fact, yet I have this insidious breast cancer that metastasized to my liver. In fact, the sicker I’ve gotten, the healthier I’ve looked because the one main physical manifestation of cancer — hair loss — isn’t there any more. My hair started growing back while I was on the second chemo, navelbine and herceptin, and has continued to grow back while I’m on this new regimen, tykerb and xeloda.

Also, besides the fatigue, which just seems to be a constant with all cancer treatment, I’m doing OK. So far, I don’t have nausea, diarrhea, or rashes on my hands and feet, which are possible side effects listed for this chemo.

I just also have no idea if it’s working.

There are those who believe that if I feel good and am “doing so well” on this chemo, it must be a good thing, I must be responding to the chemo. However, since I felt good (except for the fatigue) on the navelbine/herceptin mix, I know that’s not necessarily true.

In fact, I don’t seem to know what’s true anymore, as far as chemo treatment goes. I can’t predict this one. In a big way, I’m afraid to predict this one because the last two didn’t work and those failures were devastating. Not only did they not work, the cancer got worse throughout each treatment. Not fun, not fun at all.

I’m just trying my best out here, wanting to be and remain the best mother I can be to Energy Boy, wanting to stick around for him and for me so I can see him growing up.

I look fine. I feel pretty good (aside from fatigue and neuropathy in my hands). But the truth is that I’m sick.

I hate being sick. I hate this uncertainty. I need to get back to a place where I put my faith and trust into God, no matter what the outcome. I had that once; I need to get it back.

I just don’t know how.

Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.

5 Responses to “well, you *look* great,” (by Judy)

  1. […] Pingback: “well, you *look* great,” (by Judy) « Mothers With Cancer […]

  2. mommydoctor says:

    Dear Judy,

    I empathize.

    In the early 1990s, after months of feeling awful on interferon that ended up doing nothing to keep cancer at bay, I dealt with friends telling me I looked great, while I was struggling with my fear my kids would grow up without me (since that was the likely scenario).

    I remember feeling stumped by the question “How are you?” since I felt I didn’t know how I was without the results of a new set of scans.

    It helped to realize that I DID know how I was at any moment: All I had to do was reflect on how things were with me and my family that day, as well as how I was feeling physically that day (or that hour!).

    I also found it useful to develop a set of automatic responses for days I was struggling and didn’t want to talk about it to everyone who asked how I was doing. And for meetings with casual acquaintances, where a pat prepared answer was best.

    Lastly, I found the best way for me to “be here” for my children was to do the best we could against my disease and, at the same time, do the best I could with them today (and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow). I focused on what I could affect today and taught myself to let go of tomorrow as much as possible. It helped me. I hope it helps you.

    Email me if you would like to see a short essay titled “Surviving ‘How are You?'” harpham[at]tx.rr.com

    With hope,

  3. Marsi White says:

    Faith is hard. I have a similar diagnosis to you, only a bit newer and I am triple negative. People tell me how great I look all the time. Ironic, huh? I hope you find something to hold onto. And if it is just you son….well, that is probably ok too. Sometimes, just looking in my kids eyes inspires me to fight. Then again, I do not know why I say sometimes!!! Hang in there and let others carry the faith for you. Maybe that is just what you need right now.

  4. Lahdeedah says:

    I get it when you say you want to get back to a place where you put your faith and trust in God, Judy. I also get it that you can’t constantly maintain that frame of mind. My hope for you is that you can feel the whole range of emotions that you need to feel, while knowing that God and your friends/family are holding you close in their hearts through it all.



  5. justenjoyhim says:

    Thanks, all. I so appreciate all of your feedback. 🙂

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