Friday, August 20, 2010

To sleep, perchance to dream...

So...I've been having nightmares lately. Not the kind of nightmare where someone is chasing you with a knife or a monster is trying to eat you, but nightmares nonetheless. I'm no psychiatrist, but I would suspect they have something to do with the stress I've been under lately, as well as some other things.

Last year the doctors found a lump in my mom's breast. She had surgery to remove the lump, followed by six weeks of radiation. Recently a friend of her's also had a relapse of her cancer that she thought she had managed to beat. Another friend of mine's girlfriend has ovarian cancer, and is currently undergoing intense chemo. And then I found out last night that a friend of mine from art school passed away on Tuesday. The doctor's discovered a melanoma, but by the time they found it she had developed tumors throughout her body, organs and brain. She tried to fight it. Went through chemotherapy. But then on Monday she slipped into a coma, and on Tuesday she passed away.

I had a pap smear while I was a pregnant, and another at my 6 week postpartum checkup. Both came back abnormal. The doctor now wants to perform a colposcopy to check out why these pre-cancer cells are showing up on my pap smears. And recently I have been having fainting spells. They did a CBC and my hemoglobin level, which is supposed to be between 12 and 18, was 10.2. I started taking prenatal multivitamins, an extra iron supplement, and B12. The following week they repeated my CBC and my hemoglobin had dropped even lower to 9.6. The doctor is concerned about this rapidly worsening anemia.

Which brings me to my nightmares. Almost nightly now I dream that I find out that I have cancer, which rapidly progresses to my death. I panic. I fight. I do everything I can to beat the cancer. And it's not because I fear death. I don't fear death and I never have. In fact in my melodramatic youth, there were moments that I would have welcomed it. So these nightmares aren't nightmares because I'm afraid of dying. They're nightmares because I am terrified of leaving my son without a mother. That if I were to get sick and die, he wouldn't understand why mommy was gone. That he would think mommy didn't love him so she left. And it fills me with the most overwhelming panic. Because I would sooner die than ever have him believe that I didn't love him. And I would fight to my last breath to stay with him because I cannot imagine never seeing his sweet beautiful face again, or feel his hand rub my arm, or hear him say "momma".

But quite frankly, considering all the things that have been showing up in my lab tests, I'm past the point of being concerned and am downright terrified. And I know that there are lots of explanations for the abnormal paps and the anemia. But considering all the friends and loved ones that have been battling cancer these days, some successfully and some not, I think I'm starting to project.

So, to all of you out there who are blessed with good health, be thankful. Wake up every morning grateful that you've been given another day to kiss your babies or your husband or your pet rock. Never shrug off anything that seems...odd. Never blow off an abnormal test result. Never take your life for granted. Because your life is a gift, it is precious, and even if it doesn't mean anything to you, to someone else you are the world.