Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I hurt.

I hurt for the young woman I just saw as a patient.
Her wisps of blonde hair so baby fine and short trying to grow back in after the ravages of chemotherapy, a pink, nubbly scar from her port-a-cath peeking out from her shirt. Status post double masectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer. A rare complication of deep vein thrombosis in her internal jugular vein that nearly killed her during treatment. Just finishing her radiation treatment--exhausted beyond my comprehension--and gearing up for a total hysterectomy.

And my job was to tell her that "Oh yeah, your arteries are pretty horrible, too."

She has four young children.

So it's Infertility Awareness Week.

And I'm aware of my infertility, but it is not cancer.

It may break my heart into a million pieces but it will not kill me.

It may have taken me into dark places that I never wish to go to again but it will not kill me.

It may have robbed me of hopes, of dreams, of idealized visions of how I thought my life would be but it will not kill me.

It has not killed me.

I'm aware of it. I hope others are aware of the ravages of infertility as well.

But I wanted to scoop that woman into my arms and hug her tight and tell her everything was going to be ok, that she would be a mother to her four children long enough to see them grow big and strong and to an age where they don't need her so desperately but I couldn't.

Infertility sucks, but I have to say that cancer sucks worse.


  1. I know. How horrible. It is something to go through the pain of infertility but then to see others and know that it really isn't the worst thing to happen - it just feels like it sometimes. I am almost crying for that woman you described. Imagine the fear and the worry about your children and what your illness is doing to them...and how they have to learn way way too early that life is so fleeting and painful. My heart breaks. But it also breaks for everyone experiencing infertility. Life is just incredibly hard.

  2. This splash of perspective is a great one. My aunt is also a cancer survivor, who just yesterday celebrated four years of being cancer-free (the date of her double mastectomy). Seeing what she has had to endure, my heart also hurts for this woman. What a beautiful blog entry.

  3. Thank you for the reality check...I needed some perspective. I hurt for her too.

  4. What a sad situation on so many levels. To be ravaged by disease. To have a family that you may not see grow and develop.

    Thank you for sharing the story and its perspective. And bless you for the job you go to everyday and the heart you put into your profession. You not only see these lives and stories, but also feel them. (((HUGS))

  5. I would take infertility and the inability to have a child by any means before having to endure what that poor woman has endured and what still sits before her. Never mind the unthinkable terror of leaving your children at a young age. I cared for my mom during her cancer and there are probably even some worse things to cancer, but infertility simply cannot be one of them.

    You're a good egg for having such compassion for her. No one deserves the ravages of cancer.

  6. I am glad that this woman gave you perspective on your situation - made it seem more tolerable somehow.

    At the same time, part of me responded differently. Since I've been dealt both cancer and infertility thought I'd speak up. I got really lucky in the cancer department. It was diagnosed, treated with six months of chemo, and then went into remission. But it still completely turned my life upside down. And for several years, I didn't kjnow how long that life (upside down or not) would be. Cancer completely sucked. Chemotherapy sucked even more. But infertility has been horrible too. I often compare the two in my mind, since they are the two worst things I have gone through. And I have to say, at this point, it's a toss up. ur infertility experience has been bad enough that I would compare it to cancer.

    Of course, I survived my cancer...if that wasn't the case then my perspective of it would be entirely different.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

    My heart goes out to that woman.


  7. That does put things into perspective. And of course cancer sucks way worse than infertility. I can't imagine being in her situation. I hate that there are so many bad things in this world. I have a friend whose sister went through IF - she did several IVFs, lost a pregnancy I believe, ultimately ended up adopting 2 beautiful children, and now she has cancer. Incurable, terminal cancer. Life is not fair.

  8. All I can do is cry.... ah life... what chaos!

  9. Interesting, in some ways I share Mo's point of view. I have also had cancer, plus a relapse. I've had so much chemotherapy I sometimes can't believe that I'm not totally fried (not to mention radiation too). I faced death sqarely in the eye. And yet. There are different kinds of pain. Chemotherapy hurt bad. Being so close to death, being a human pincushion, being treated as a disease and not as a human, being so nauseated and sick, was awful and scary. Struggles with infertility also hurt bad but in a different way. Coincidentally, I wrote a bit about this in my past blog: http://fetaccompli.blogspot.com/

    But I do think there is something to be said for perspective and being grateful for one's health.

  10. Beautiful and thought provoking, as ALWAYS.

  11. Whew. I had to process that post for a day. I'm still not sure how I feel. I mean on one side of my brain, a cancer dx would be horrible, horrible, too scary for me to imagine, really. But the other side of my brain (and maybe it is only a little quarter, not a whole side) that thinks that infertility is no walk in the park either. The suffering is different, but it is still suffering.

    I guess what I come up with in the end is life is full of struggle. And if someone feels pain, then it hurts, regardless of the cause. I dunno. It's all hard.

    Boy, even after a day, I'm still not too coherent on this. Sorry. But thanks for making me think.

  12. Definitely! I have a good friend who had breast cancer - thankfully now in full remission. We've talked about our respective issues. She has a wee boy, though she's been told not to have any more children. I have been painfully aware, that despite what she's been through, she wouldn't swap places with me - she'd take the cancer and her child over no child at all. BUT - she is in remission. If her outlook were less good, it would be different. I'm glad your cancer patient has someone in the healthcare system who thinks of her as more than just another patient - her situation is awful, but I'm certain you have gone some way to making it slightly less awful than it could be.

  13. Oh - thought I would add something that I found out through a support group for those with infertility and miscarriage. Research has shown that those suffering from infertility demonstrate the same levels of stress and depression as the newly bereaved and those diagnosed with cancer or HIV. Shocked me a little.

  14. That is a tough one to not only see but also process. Perspective is always a great thing to have, but I hesitate to compare the types of struggles. They are just different. Of course I wouldn't want to experience cancer to know which turned out to be the worse one for me, but I know that the IRL support network that I would have during cancer treatments would be much stronger than what I have with IF. IF doesn't mean death, but I just don't know how to compare it with other things. The perspective thing is always a good reminder though to be thankful for what I do have. Thanks for always having that.

    I'm not sure how you do what you do everyday. My heart goes out to you.

  15. Mrs. LC, I'm so glad that this woman had you caring for her. I know her situation is beyond awful, but I'm positive that she was able to feel your love and sympathy.

    Life is just so unreal sometimes.

    There is an IF blogger who I've somewhat recently come across (perhaps you've read her blog as well) who, after multiple failed IUIs and IVFs, was finally able to conceive her beautiful daughter. Her daughter is now 6 months old......and this blogger was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. Her prognosis is bleak. Whenever I think about this woman, I can't help but cry. After all her fighting and struggling to create a family.....now she may be forced to leave this world before her daughter's 1st birthday. "Tragedy" is too mild a word.

    I thank this woman (and you) for reminding me to be thankful for my LFE.

  16. It must be so hard to see so many people suffering in your job. This post does make me feel grateful for my health. I've had times in my life that I had a debilitating disease or thought I wouldn't be able to do something I loved again because of physical problems, and it made me appreciate what I had so much more. I wish I could stay in that place of gratefulness for what I have instead of wishing for what I didn't have. Even though my experience with fibroids and fertility treatments sucked, I have always known things could have been worse. I'm grateful for my health and my husband's health.

    Lost In Space's comment really resonated with me. I often felt that I didn't get much support or sympathy when I was going through IVF. I know if I had had cancer, it would have been completely opposite. How messed up is that?

  17. We do get sucked into our own little universes, don't we...

    Thank you for this post. It really is necessary to step outside your world every once in a while. Otherwise, you loose your focus on reality.