Too Many Battle Scars

by Debbie Twomey on October 21, 2017

Cellulitis scar

I have taken a long break from writing to focus on healing, or at least getting through my chemotherapy. The side effects have taken a physical toll on me which was only exacerbated by my other illnesses. And it has all been very discouraging to me. I miss the physical activity I used to enjoy so much. I feel as though my many battle scars are just hindering me in many ways and it can get overwhelmingly discouraging.

 I would read about other cancer patients, some with much stronger chemo than what I get who were working or out there doing physical activities that I can only dream of.  Yesterday I argued with myself that I could do more physically so I headed to the corner (all of 3 houses). How did I do? Let’s just say if I had had my phone with me I would have called a cab to get back home.

Trust me that I know and understand (and am reminded almost every time I see certain doctors who have to constantly say “You know you are a big girl”, that I am morbidly obese. I know this makes for yet another complication but as I have said ad nauseam, it is a Catch-22. I was big before getting this sick but I was very active. Then the RA worsened the walking diminished and the pounds increased. I was diagnosed with diabetes last year and it turned out that I needed to eat more often (wisely and watching the carbs and sugars of course) and try to increase whatever exercise I was doing at the time. It got so bad that all I could tolerate was water walking till I had a problem with getting to the pool. Now, due to all the complications, exercise is not tolerable. I only managed to lose 35 pounds due to the chemotherapy side effects.

I have such a hard time accepting some things, like the fact that I not only have cancer but heart and lung disease as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis with end stage degeneration in my hip. I keep thinking I can still get around better than I do, till I try. I will hear some pep talk or see something on Facebook that is so inspiring and tell myself I can do that too, but most of the time, I simply can’t.

I never ever thought this is what 62 would look like. 82 maybe and even then I saw myself dancing and going for those walks I liked so much (with my 70’s music blaring in my ear). I never dreamed I would need a scooter just to get groceries and if an establishment does not have a scooter, like the zoo or festivals, I have to avoid. This was not what I saw in my future.

Because I could not tolerate the full chemo, I am now only receiving Herceptin every 3 weeks. That is the good news. The bad news is I did not get the full treatment so a positive outcome is reduced. If you read everything on the Internet regarding chemo and any other cancer treatment you also start to wonder did I make the wrong choice here? Did I just make it that my body will now get cancer everywhere else because of the toxins of chemotherapy? Did I fall victim to Big Pharma and make myself sicker? Truthfully I am getting a bit tired of all of this, the not knowing what is best and all the arguments either way. What the hell do I have to look forward to when I begin my rounds of radiation?


Lung biopsy, lympth node removal and marking for radiation

I feel as though I am one giant SCAR. I have so many scars on the outside and then I have the ones on the inside. I have scars from knee surgery, 4 large scars from trying to have a baby and eventually having a total hysterectomy. I have childhood scars from the many times I got stitches because I was a very active tomboy. I have the scars from my lung and liver biopsies, the breast biopsy and eventually the lumpectomy to remove an 18mm mass and removal of lymph nodes. I have the many small and one large scar from the bouts of cellulitis and MRSA. And soon I will have a scar from either removal of gallstones or gall bladder.

My point is I am very physically scarred from these traumas and those are just the ones you can see. Right now the ones that hurt the most are the ones you cannot.  Last week I sat in the surgeon’s office waiting to be told I am too heavy for him to remove my gall bladder and that I would need a bariatric surgeon to perform the operation. My hospital does not even have the proper equipment for a morbidly obese patient like myself. So take that Debbie Twomey.

I sat alone just as I did waiting for my all my biopsy results because I know when it comes to crunch time, I really am alone and to depend on someone does not usually work out. And I have to admit there are times that is a heavier burden, feeling alone. Leaves a different kind of scar.

Fear leaves a scar too. I try not to focus on the worst case scenario but I am a realist and I need to know all the facts to make any major decisions, even if I make the wrong one. So I make my oncologist keep me updated on what could become more complicated because of my serious side effects. And getting gallstones is actually kind of minor right now compared to the outbreak of MRSA which is potentially worse.

My little trek down the street brought my own reality smack dab in my face—you have to accept the limitations and adapt and not compare my illness and recovery to anyone else’s journey. Yes, there are amazing people out there who can do miraculous feats even while dealing with cancer or chemo. Yes, there are those who still work, or go for walks or carry on as if nothing is different. There are even those who forego painkillers even when they are in agony so that they are lucid. But they are not me. They do not have my scars or my complications.            

I have one goal and that is to survive and get some quality back to my life so that I can spend more time with my precious granddaughters, and my family and friends. I don’t want those that know me saying goodbye just yet. I want to take my McKenna and Leah to the zoo and to festivals and so much more including Disney World if that is possible. So I am doing what I have to without overdoing it or making any more scars than I already have.  Who doesn’t have their share of scars and hope for better?   


Live, Laugh Love


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen Barbagallo October 21, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Deb you are the bravest person that I have ever known.  I just wish I could take a portion of all your illnesses to lighten the burden for you.  I would do it in a heartbeat.  I think our Good Lord  has a little too much on the cross you have to carry every day?  I want you to see your granddaughters grow up and have a happy loving life.  We must stay positive and keep praying our God will hear us and do some of his magic to help you along.  You know I am here anything you need.  I love you like the sister I never had and you will always be my BFF!    We will make those Zoo visits and festivals, it just may take a little longer.  Remember you are never alone.  God Bless You ???? ❤️??


Selene October 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Debbie, I do not know what to say. This is so humbling to read – the truth of it and the amount of strength required from you in order to get through each day. It is humbling to read your words. Be patient with yourself. The right decision is what is right for you, right now. Not for anyone else, as you wrote. Everyone is different! 

My mom worked at Sloan Kettering when I was younger. She would say that two patients could be the same but the one who had spirit, who kept at it…that is what made the difference. I see you going through this on your own with McKenna. You are going to get through this. Focus on that, on God and keep going forward. I do so wish we were closer to be able to help! We love you! God bless you, friend <3


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