Guest Post: My Inside Voice by Hayle Griffin
I was lucky to meet Hayle through my oncology team. She and I had very similar treatment plans, and our chemo nurses introduced us. Despite having a wonderful support system, having a friend who knows what it's like to have radioactive material shoved into your cervix on a weekly basis is a unique thing, and being able to commiserate with someone who has been there is a valuable thing when you're fighting this kind of fight. In addition to being a cancer survivor, Hayle is a mom and a wife, and she faced challenges I didn't even have to think about in juggling her family with cancer, and she was gracious enough to share her life after treatment with us.
My inside voice is a bitch.
I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, best friend, and a survivor of stage 3 cervical cancer.
My world has been turned upside down, new obstacles are here, and I am left to pick up the pieces. Sometimes I don’t want to pick up the pieces. I want to throw my hands up in the air and say "I can’t compete." The funny thing is I am trying to compete with who I was before, and the simple truth is I am not who I used to be.
One of my challenges is learning to accept that I am not the same. My thought process is completely different. I have to realize that, but the struggle is REAL! When people look at me they see the Hayle I was before, and I have six beautiful children that look at me no differently. I'm “just their mom.” I feel so much pressure to be who I used to be, and so much desire to be that person again.
When I heard the word "remission" I was so happy and relieved, but new obstacles are left for me to conquer. I struggle with the fact that while I was going through 32 radiation sessions and 7 chemo, everyone else was still living their lives as normal, and they don't always think about they new Hayle. I mean this in the most respectful way possible. Here's an example:
5:00 am: I leave for work a job I have had for 7 years with people who I adore, but I spend all day trying to be normal again. I'm watching and observing other people achieving what I used to be able to achieve while I am eating TUMs all day because my stomach hurts. The old Hayle never had stomach problems, so I try to forget about them. My inside voice keeps saying “Hayle this isn’t a competition.”
3:30 pm: I pick up the kids from the bus stop. Normally, I admit, I am napping in the car because I am emotionally and physically TIRED. I nap until their little faces appear knocking on the car window to wake me up and drive them home. They start talking about their day and I am listening, but all my inside voice is saying is “I hope I conquered everything at work today. I hope I am not know as 'the Hayle who got sick' and I hope I was as good as I used to be.” While I am thinking this, the kids are still rambling about Valentines for school and how I need to get them Valentines.
4:00 pm: I arrive at home and the little voice in my head is saying “I wonder if anyone will notice if I go straight to bed." Then I look down at my feet to see a handsome 1 year old little boy. "Hi, baby Grey! I missed you!" I always say in this my mom "googoo gaga" voice while reaching my hands out to grab him. He doesn’t ever reply. He turns away, grasping my mother in law's shirt. It’s like he has the death grip on her. It's like he's afraid. "Don’t leave me with this lady (me)!" I missed so much time with him while I was in treatment. I am reminded again how good it would be to be the old Hayle. The pressure is still there, and it’s intensifying at this point.
5:00 pm: I start dinner. By this time, I am relieved that it’s almost time to see my husband...IF he doesn’t work overtime. That little voice in my head is getting louder. “I wonder if people will notice if I go to bed.” While cooking dinner, I am doing laundry, helping with homework, and am holding a baby on my hip who keeps saying "DADA," asking for his dad.
6:00 pm: I can hear the garage door, opening and guess who? It’s my husband: my best friend the father of this beautiful child who wants nothing to do with me. At this point my inside voice is saying “whew I made it until he’s home before I napped!" Before he can put his lunch box down, the little boy is in his arms and I am so relieved. My bones are always killing me and my arms begin to hurt while holding him.
6:30 pm: Dinner is ready. The kids come inside from playing and everyone’s eating. What am I doing? 50% of the time I am on the sofa watching them all eat, and my inside voice is saying “hurry up and eat, everyone! I need to go to bed!” When everyone is done, I start doing the dishes and cleaning the floor. Whew! I made it!
7:00 pm: My older kids start talking about college and how expensive college books are and tuition. My inside voice is saying “if only I had what I used to have. Stupid CANCER!”
8:00 pm: This is my favorite time, because at this point I am clocked out for the day emotionally, and my husband is home! I think at this point I have already kissed my husband. I mean, I hope I did because he deserves it!
Something else I would like to add is, for some apparent reason, I have this urge to tell the people that I love that I LOVE THEM. It’s an obsession of mine, so during the day, I spend my spare moments sending text messages, explaining to people why I love them so much. My inside voice is always telling me to "get off my phone.” Sheesh! I hate when she’s right!
One thing I have learned is to cherish these little moments. They are more valuable to me now. The fear, pain, and emotional stress can be overpowering, but those little moments are what keep me going.