The how and the why

Thank you all for your great enthusiastic and supportive comments this week and weekend.  I’ve been going through a rough patch, and it all feels so … hopeless. 

But I see now that it’s only temporary, and that I WILL get better soon.

To answer a question from yesterday on HOW my ribs got out of place: here’s the theory.  The cancer in the right breast grew so fast and so strong that the weight increased faster than any muscles could compensate.  The heavy breast pulled on my muscles, which pulled on my ribs, which pulled them right out of place.  This caused the pain in the front of my chest and around to the back, since ribs do go all the way around.  Then even after the breast was cut off, the ribs were stuck in place behind my vertabrae and the muscles around them still hurt and the nerves still pinched and I was still getting pain signals from the ribs themselves, even though the weight was gone.

A knowledgeable PT is worth her weight in gold.  And, speaking of gold (but not Bretta’s weight!), I just found on the web site as I was linking yesterday’s posts, although the DC Center for Integrative Medicine doesn’t take insurance directly, many people can be fully or partially reimbursed by their insurance companies; they also have started a fund for those who can’t afford it.  More details at the link in the last sentence.

And now to the why. 

I often (between treatments, playdates, Little Golden Books, endless trips around the little wooden traintrack, Richard Scarrey adventures labeled with every little thing, veggie-pushing, banana-treating, singing, napping, and hugging my children before they get too big to be hugged) wonder why on earth I got this disease.  Why do I have cancer?  What good could possibly come out of me fighting this agressive disease, without assurance, or even odds that I’ll come out the other side?  What terrible power would sentence me to this, and my little boy to the heartbreak of being torn away from his mommy each morning as I go to treatment, sure that I’ll be tired and grumpy on my return?  What force would want to rip me away from my babies, temporarily as I heal, or forever?

And I worry.

I worry about what I did to deserve this.  I worry about what legacies, or comfort, I can leave my children.  I have resisted writing them letters, because it feels fatalistic, as if I’m ready to go the day I seal those envelopes and address them to a 10-year-old Widget, a 15-year-old Widget, an 18-year-old Little Bear, or to both on their wedding days.  I want to, but I won’t do it until I’m in the hospital or hospice for good. I just won’t. 

I have to trust that the good in God and in the world will take care of them until then.

And so part of me wants to write here about the good in the world, to increase its power and its reach until there is enough leaking out to heal me (selfish!) and to wrap my boys in comfort, and to be a better place when they grow up.  I have always wanted to make the world a better place, and part of my frustration with this disease now is that it has me powerless and stuck – again – in bed as my body fights the cell death and tries to recover from the tens of MeV of radiation that we assult it with daily.

So today I have something else good to tell you about: the BlogHers Act Mother’s Day Project.  I’ll tell you more about it as I can, but this link is a first effort to help spread the word among us bloggers, and I’ll be back in a day or two with more info about the projects themselves.  And we’ll see what we can do, working together.

<br /> Donate Now to Save Women's Lives

Edited to add: Big hugs today to my friend Splashgirl, who starts radiation today.  May hers go smoothly and easily, as mine did until week 6.  If you haven’t met her before, go follow her on Twitter or check out this post.

14 Responses to The how and the why

  1. Susan K says:

    You don’t deserve this. No one does. But we learn from our challenges – maybe you have learned to appreciate what you have more than you might otherwise have. I don’t know. But don’t for a minute ever entertain the thought that you somehow ‘deserved’ this.

    As for the letters – I understand why the notion of a “letter” – something you seal and address to some future date – is scary. I don’t write “letters” to my girls. But I have a diary for each girl and in that diary I write (and sign) dated letters. They are not huge things. Sometimes only a few lines. But they are cute things you are doing now, or wonderful ways you have shown empathy or made me proud. Because you know what– even without chemo brain, you forget. You forget what it was like when the older one is the age the younger one is now. You forget when they did what. I am not organized enough to have a “baby book”. And I am WAAAAAY behind on letter writing – a year or more might go by. But I have SOMETHING, in MY HANDWRITING (don’t underestimate the power of that – even for a generation that will probably never get a callus from writing, like I had during University) that my girls can get. When ever I decide is the time to give it to them.

  2. Sarah S. says:

    I often ask myself the same questions. Why me, why now, all we can do is fight for us and for our families. To get the word out about these terrible diseases. To raise awarness so Maybe just one person will be diognosed earlier than they would have been.
    Stay Strong! We love you! You are an inspiration to us all 🙂

  3. Ally says:

    Gentle hugs to you as you recover once again.

    I’ve wondered about the “letters” idea. I think this blog serves as a wonderful testament to who you are, and would be a great read for your children someday… not even necessarily because of death. Just to get to know their mom better, as an adult writing down her thoughts and experiences.

  4. It is temporary and you didn’t do anything to deserve this… You are a good, kind, strong woman.

  5. clifford says:

    Hmmm. Good question. You asked ’em lately?

  6. strugi says:

    Whymommy-you are making the world a better place in so many ways. You reach out to help people who are newly diagnosed with cancer, support others going through treatment, and you manage to kindly teach the rest of us how to help. Somehow, in addition to that huge effort, you are also looking at how to make life better for women in your field (and as a different type of physical scientist, I must say that we hope to learn from your example). On top of that, you are raising two little boys with kindness and empathy, they will grow to become amazing men.

    I keep a diary for my son-I write about what makes me happy and what makes me proud. I write about short-term and long term hopes for him. My brother-in-law’s family keeps one journal for all the kids. They seem to reflect what is really important and what they really want to know-how much you love them.

    I’ve never met you, but right now I am imagining you holding your newborn grandson telling him stories about his Daddy when he was a little boy.

    It is a hard fight-we are all here pulling for you, praying for you, and wishing you all the happiness in the world.

  7. maryelena says:

    It’s not writing letters but for the past few years I’ve had a calendar book in my kitchen and each night I tried to write down a few things that happened during the day. This year I couldn’t find a calendar that I liked so I’ve tried doing it in a word document I plan to add to daily but sometimes its days before I get to it. The goal is a little every night so when they grow up they’ll know what fun we had or at least what we did on days that were perhaps not that fun.

  8. Margerie says:

    I am sorry you are having difficulty, physically and emotionally. I had to take a boost break also. Only so much your skin can take.
    This “journey” is certainly not for wimps. My oncologist warned me that when active treatment winds down, after so many months, it can be a very emotional time. He was right, I think I was in tears about something the very next week. For me it was going from shock, to battle mode to where am I now? What are we doing to make sure this doesn’t come back? I just eat well, live well, love well and hug well. I t took me a long while to give up my fear addiction.

    I hope you have many more trips around the little wooden track.

  9. You know, I was having a why me day. Lots of insignificant things, some minor medical issues I have, my mother (and thanks again for the support in that, turns out it was NOTHING! NOTHING!!! I want to slap her) and Boo. Oh Boo. Yeah, it was mainly Boo.

    But you put it into perspective yet again for me. So strong and selfless, even when you think you are not.

    ❤ babe.

  10. ~JJ! says:

    hugs sister.

    You are stronger than you are giving yourself credit for.

  11. whymommy says:

    Kelley, nothing? It was nothing? Not even “a little Paget’s” as she thought?


    While I’m immensely relieved for all of you, I hate that you had to deal with the scare.

    But hoo-ray that it was actually nothing! Easier for the kids in the long run, right?

    (But still, sigh.)

  12. whymommy says:

    I love all of your ideas on what to leave for the kids. I will do something. Just not until I turn the corner, one way or the other. My heart is all mixed up, here in treatment/limbo.

  13. juliepippert says:

    Sweetie, I mean it: you can’t make “things happen for a reason” a principle. It makes something or someone an Utter Shit when crap happens, and crap does happen.

    I totally understand you not doing the letters and so forth.

    I think just doing Today…you are doing what you need to, should do. Of course you do much more than that.

    But some really lovely ideas above, too.

    And your blog…it’s so much good.

  14. melissaz says:

    I believe that things happen for a reason, and then I hear about someone like you and I can’t fathom what that reason could possibly be.

    But this blog, and you, are amazing. You are in my prayers.

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