How does one blog when their mind is in a state of constant chaos? There are so many things going on in my brain, yet I don’t even know how to organize them well enough into written word to share. Moments like these, of overwhelming thought without means of expression, reinforce the fact that being a good writer is definitely a talent; blogging for the sake of blogging doesn’t really do it, despite what some may think. I feel as though my thoughts are meaningful, interesting and sometimes even humorous,  likely even things other people would like to read about, but I just struggle more and more every day to share them.

I think wherein the problem lies is that I have been mentally and physically stressed since 2012 rolled in. Coping with the grave loss and sudden responsibility that came at me all at once was difficult. Although things did work themselves out in a lot of ways, the year was one of deep internal struggle for me.

Despite knowing that I found much happiness throughout the year, my emotions feel like they were set to hypersensitivity mode. I found myself well into a new relationship which, although it made me happy, made me extremely anxious. I think at a certain point, once you have experienced so much heartache and you finally find something that gives you joy you are automatically programed to fear it to a certain degree. Why would you want to risk enjoying the way someone or something makes you feel, as good as it can be, when you know how bad the other end of that spectrum feels? Why enjoy something that you know could be very temporary?

My guard really went up after the fall of 2011, quite literally.

As much progress as I thought I had made by mid-year, it wasn’t long before I was derailed again. Two months shy of the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing my mother was diagnosed with the same deadly disease, Breast Cancer. I felt broken. Once word gets out everyone tries to give you some solace with their empty words, but what most of them don’t understand is that it only makes it worse. Why are YOU sorry to hear the news? Do you actually care how we feel? Damnit, why do my feelings even matter? How dare I feel hurt, I’m not even the one who has to go through this. But I do feel hurt. I feel heartbroken again and I haven’t even lost anyone this time. Am I allowed to feel this way? Why am I even thinking about me right now? The whole situation made me angry, the things I was thinking made me angry.

The idea of having to go through the same routine our family thought we would never need to live again made me sick. My paternal grandmother died of Breast Cancer when I was a toddler, my great aunt in 2010 and my maternal grandmother in 2011. To even fathom that this disease was rearing its head in my family again was nauseating, I can’t quite describe what the news did to me mentally and physically. I still don’t have the exact words, and I’m not sure anyone can really understand it, which is the worst part.

Although the diagnosis was completely different in stages, severity, etc., than my grandmother’s advanced case, or any of the other cases my family had experienced, I felt defeated. After the initial shock, my mom was surprisingly strong and positive however, much like my grandmother grew to be. This surprisingly positive outlook on the situation made me wonder how I could feel so negative. Does diagnosis put everything into perspective for the patient? Do they just magically realize that positivity is the best option? How much of their own internal struggle are they not sharing with me? Why do they feel as though they can’t or don’t want to share their true feelings?

I have so many questions, no longer about the physical consequences of the illness, but rather the mental consequences. Having gone through this a time or two, the science of what is going on, what chemo does to the body, how radiation helps, how the stages are classified, etc. is understandable. What I am having a hard time understanding is the mental struggle, the mental stresses this causes. I know how terrible being indirectly associated with this disease has made me feel but I don’t know if I will ever understand how they feel. Heck I still don’t really understand why I feel the way I do about it sometimes either. I have made a point to go to every chemotherapy treatment so far, and I will be there for the final one in on March 6th as well, but just seeing my mom go through it all kills me. I feel horrible knowing what the “medicine” is doing to her body, although it helps in the long run, and I feel even more guilty for not showing more compassion when my grandmother had to go through it. Is it possible that life is making me relearn this lesson in compassion because I didn’t learn it well enough the first time?

The guilt and pain I feel is so unbearable at times. Dear fellow bloggers and people of the e-universe who may read this, I hope you never have to feel the way I do, let alone the way those I love have had to in dealing with this illness. My loving boyfriend and some of my family are volunteering as crew for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer this June in memory of those we love and in hopes for those we will love into the future, if you care to donate please follow the link – Enbridge Ride.

 

The week leading up to the week of November 22 was an exciting time for me, I believed my life was in order and I was honestly happy. What reason did I have to be anything  but joyous? I had a boyfriend who, although we had our ups and downs, made me feel closer to complete. I even had a stable job, I finally moved past my one year probation and my stability there saw me get approved for a mortgage on the perfect condo that I was to be taking possession of on the 22nd. I even had a trip to Hawaii for February to look forward to. Furthermore, as always, I had (and still do have) the most amazing support system compiled of friends, family and other peers. Much to be thankful for, and a pleasant future to anticipate.

Sadly, what goes up must come down and the high I was riding came to an abrupt halt. Few try to handle the roller coaster of life as best I do, although I would prefer consistent balance, I do try my hardest to get through the good and bad times the best I can.

Needless to say it began to tumble when trust issues arising in my relationship lead to unpleasant discoveries that saw a dramatic and quick end to something I felt like I just poured much of my heart and soul into over the past 7 months. Despite the fact that many consider me still quite young, as I am only 23, I feel like I have achieved a  lot and lived a lot, to the point that when it comes to relationships I wasn’t interested in a short-term committment. We had gotten to a point where we were having many serious discussions, even those of cohabitation and the like. My discoveries left me devastated and suddenly deceived by someone I thought was essentially someone else. I don’t feel details are necessary to justify my upset, just know, I felt quite low. Sifting through the details, I tried not to dwell on negativity and tried seeing some lights at the end of the tunnel, after all I still had much to look forward to — in 2 days I was still moving into my first home!

The big day finally comes, and the events of the days leading up were in the back of my mind, I was focused on the task at hand. My mom took a few days off with me to help get me set up and we had a great time even though we were mainly cleaning. That same day my aunt and uncle helped me move some of my large furniture and my grandma was going to come hang out with me the next day while I unpacked. The next day my grandma found out she needed to go check in at the cancer clinic for a follow-up appointment, luckily my mom and I both had the day off for my move so my mom took her while I stayed at my place continuing to unpack. I get a call later in the day telling me there was a problem and my grandma’s visit was turning into an overnight stay.

My productivity went out the window and all I could do was worry about my grandma. I called in to my work and extended my leave from moving to an extra day so I could go spend the following day at the hospital. Things weren’t great, but they didn’t seem so bad either when I went up to see her. Her and I joked around, and I even razed her about standing me up. She told me she’d come by once she got out of the hospital, she thought she would definitely be home for the weekend, preferably by Friday because she had an appointment to get her cataracts operated on. Nothing excited her more than thinking she could finally read again, and see Hawaii in February with her new “HD” eyes.

The next day, Friday, I went into work for the first time following my new routine — it felt great to be able to walk into work. Things were going great, everyone was asking me about my new place and asking me how my grandma was progressing. Mid-morning my aunt gives me word that the doctor didn’t have good news. It turns out the bone cancer that developed from my grandmother’s original breast cancer had damaged her marrow and thus she was no longer producing platelets or hemoglobin. My grandma was at risk of bleeding to death and her body was rejecting transfusions. I panicked and called my mom she said she would come grab me and my boss told me to leave as soon as I told her what I heard.

Friday, November 25, 2011 was arguably the longest day and night of my life. We arrived at the hospital where my 2 aunts (my mom’s sisters) were already waiting. We all shared tears but tried to be strong as not to alarm my grandma. Unfortunately there was something that I think overcame us all and we knew there was a large possibility that things weren’t going to end well. Our whole family was there by mid-afternoon and there we stayed. We waited and watched. What did we wait for? I guess to lose her. What did we watch? I guess her deteriorate.

Hours ticked by, we all remained. Finally by 8am the next morning on Saturday I was in a lot of pain from not having anywhere to sit or lay properly and thought I should pop to my mom’s house to take care of the dog. The second I stepped out of the shower and the phone rang, I knew it was what we were waiting for, what I wasn’t expecting to hear only days earlier — my grandma had passed. Internal bleeding into the brain took her life. Was it always going to happen this way? Would she have lived longer if we didn’t take her for her appointment that Wednesday afternoon? Would it have been worse had we not known?

This devastation for me is unexplainable in so many ways. My grandma wasn’t old, she was 68. My grandmother was the kindest, purest woman I knew, so in reality she didn’t deserve any of her suffering either. My grandma was my second mother, I lived with her 22 of my 23 years; she was my best friend. My grandma was only joking around with me days ago, she didn’t get to see my condo, she didn’t get to make it to Hawaii. For what reason was it her time?

This is my first great loss, and I am now positive one can never be prepared.

Bereavement time at work allowed me the following week off to help my family through the busy time, and to grieve. I try to say it gets easier every day but I don’t think it does. How are you supposed to react when people tell you how sorry they are? Say it’s okay? What if it isn’t?

Our family vacation in February will now be one meant to keep us together and remember the love we share for each other and for the woman who brought us all together. It’s hard to look forward to, because looking forward is just in general a hard thing to do right now.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, my job stability and the level of certainty I had in that one critical realm of my life went out the window too. Government budget cuts, capacity issues and a mixture of a lot of things put me into the category of who knows where I go from here. Especially comforting with the new responsibility of a mortgage.

My mind is mixed, my thoughts are clouded. Tumultuous times are upon me and although I feel the universe speaking to me, I am really trying to figure out what it is telling me.

Christmas is upon us, as well as a New Year. I am trying to be optimistic and all I ask for this Christmas is to spend it with those who mean the most, and those who have been so supportive.

For anyone interested memorial tributes for Luanna Christensen may be made directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, c/o Tom Baker Cancer Centre, 1331 – 29 Street N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 4N2 (Telephone 1-866-412-4222, www.albertacancer.ca/memorial). Or general donations to www.albertacancer.ca/, www.cancer.ca.

Happy Holidays everyone.