What is brave, anyhow?

I like watching movies; people are allowed to be brave, and we can be brave with them. Last night – against Zsolt’s wishes – we watched the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings book one, film one). He says it’s a film for teenagers, but he thinks that of everything fantasy/science fiction. There is no point arguing, though obviously I disagree and am correct in my opinion . . .

Anyhow: Bravery.


Frodo  didn’t want to carry the ring. He wished he’d never found it, never been chosen, never this, never that. Never.

I wish the same all the time. As each day passes and chemotherapy approaches I wish I didn’t have to go, didn’t need the injections, didn’t get so sick. Didn’t this, didn’t that. Didn’t.

When BBC news reports a famous designer has died from breast cancer, I wish I’d never gotten it. Never started growing, never reached my lymph nodes, never this and never that.  Because I’ll never be 100% sure it’s not still inside. Reoccurrence scares the shit out of me.

So how am I meant to be brave? Why can’t it be like the films, where there is a moment of heightened music, tears in the eyes . . .  and then a short nod, steps forward. Challenged mounted. Why can’t I be brave without also being chicken-shit scared?

Last week I went to the hospital for a picc line flush and zolodex shot. It overwhelmed me; I threw up in the corridor, in the chemo chair, after my shot. The smell of the ward nauseated me, the sight of the patients made me cry, the click of the chemo drip made me gag. Bravery? No, I’ve tied a leash round my neck and dragged myself in. That’s not brave, that’s compulsory.

And I know, I really know, “it’s not just the body, Catherine”. It’s the mind. It’s the reaction, the conditioning. This is my work in progress. Throwing up is a release of anxiety, but there must be better ways. Well, I’m trying to scream. Who knows what the neighbours think, I scream each day and imagine all the fear and the nausea shooting out with the sound.

Will it work? I don’t know – we’ll see next Thursday when my blood is tested. I’ll scream in the middle of the ward, thus triggering mass panic amongst the patients and probably get committed. Or asked to leave the country.

No, I won’t really scream. Of course not.

Today is Monday.  In four more days I’ll be back in that green easy chair with a drip hooked up. This time it’ll be a different course of chemotherapy. They say it’s easier, “a little easier.” And since it’ll be every week, it sure as heck better be easier.

I can’t take much more of this bullshit self-induced sickness. Even if it is resetting my immune system and clearing out those nasty fucking cancer cells that may/may not be in my body. Rude unwelcomed FUCKERS.

Bright side: well I’m glad to talk about being scared.  That helps. We’ve changed the sheets (finally) to my pink rose on blue pattern. I haven’t thrown up in three days. The students are back at the university. And . . . Zsolt is washing the dishes!

Thank goodness for small miracles.

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2 thoughts on “What is brave, anyhow?

  1. Hi Catherine,

    Your red check marks are starting to add up. Yea!

    Your yellow star is winking at you. It’s telling you it will envelop you with its brilliant light when the chemo is over and you’re home for Christmas.

    The chemo is scaring the cancer… “What the? What’s this liquid attacking me for?”

    Go ahead and yell at the cancer; give it the boot with your steel-toed boots; “Hey cancer, get outta here!”.

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