Worth Reading

Worth Reading: Hug Everyone You Know

WE Magazine for Women has the pleasure to share an excerpt from the book: Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer by Antoinette Truglio Martin 

I liked to listen to NPR radio programs. This I Believe,  a program that invites the public to share the beliefs they practice in their daily lives, aired while I drove to work. I thought of submitting an essay that reflected my current beliefs:

I believe in faking it as I journey through breast cancer treatment. Although my prognosis is positive, I still need to muddle through chemotherapy and, soon after, radiation therapy. I juggle my home and work routines so gaps are not noticeable—as if I have always had time to fit doctor appointments, infusion sessions, and nausea into my day. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, which is a major feat with a chemo brain and poisoned body. I paste a smile on my face and reassure My Everyone that I am fine. The façade keeps those around me calm and superficially convinces me that I am really okay.

But in reality, the positive attitudes fade away when my body revolts, nightmares are recalled in a wakened state, and thoughts are left to their own ramble. I am very frightened. Questions I dare not give voice to loop through my head. What if this cancer cannot be beaten down? What if I become debilitated and sick for the rest of my life? What if I am robbed of life prematurely? I imagine wasting away while my daughters navigate through their young adulthood without me. I shake at the image of not being part of weddings, unknown to grandchildren, and missing life adventures that lay ahead. Pain would define my legacy. Happier memories would have to be conjured from faded photographs that never got dated, signed, or organized. Who is going to do that now? I am deeply afraid that once an absent memory, I will be replaced. My husband will find a new wife; my daughters will adopt a new mother. Although terrified of that outcome, I am ANGRY that it should be that way if the worst happens.

Anger is another reality. I am so mad at myself for not taking better care of the only body I have and that it betrayed me into believing that I was fine. I am furious that this disease scares my husband and daughters. They have to live with me and watch me go through the protocols. I am livid that cancer surrounds every aspect of life and infects so many lives. This is not supposed to happen!

But crying and ranting will not make cancer go away any faster. Negotiating ignorance and a simpler protocol only flirts with recurrence and extends the horror show. If I show my true anxieties, I risk paralyzing myself further, digging into an abyss and surrendering. Pretending all is well, dragging myself through the day with a smile, and repeating that I am fine keeps the beast at bay. I was never an adequate actress or a gifted liar, but I am rather skilled at believing what I want to believe.

I believe I will fare through treatment with minor injury. I believe I will be well for a very long time. I believe I can fake it. This I believe.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Antoinette Truglio Martin. Get your copy of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer on Amazon

 

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