So when I came home from my first chemotherapy infusion to vomit for 9 hours and not be able to eat for 4 days – I began to feel my vulnerability. The anti-nausea meds were changed and I only vomited for 4 hours after the next dose of chemo 3 weeks later. However, I couldn’t “cope”. I couldn’t shop, or work or think or cook or care for my home and family. I could lie on the couch, in the winter sun and rest while my family took care of me, the house, the dog, the cat and life. This went on for 6 months and the last three months were worse as I had the “red” chemo mixture – the one that rots your nails and numbs your toes and fingertips. This was followed by 6 weeks of radiation where I showed my burnt and bleeding breast to the doctors, sure that they would postpone the treatment, to be put straight back under the machine and cooked some more.
I think it was the fear of the cancer that robbed me of my agency as I took my place on the conveyor belt of breast cancer treatments. I felt powerless and vulnerable as I succumbed to treatment after treatment.. It was a nightmare of a time during which I was forced to allow others to care for me. Eventually I came to need and crave their care and support and realized how much I needed it and with what tenderness, generosity and love it was given. I think that this high degree of vulnerability allowed me to open to the love that was, had always been, on offer and had I not been that vulnerable I might never have given myself permission to feel and receive it.