Thursday, March 29, 2012


The black and white TV fiction that occupied great swaths of my childhood Saturday mornings remains in my memory in repetitive snippets: Tarzan's distinctive yodel; his bare, hairless chest and skimpy animal skins (I liked imagining the steamy heat that made such a uniform practical); the housewifely Jane's good-natured fussing in the tree house (which I found both comforting and disturbing); and the thrilling race through the jungle that took place in every episode, Tarzan valiantly swinging from vine to vine above the jungle floor on his way to rescue Boy from a crocodile, or a lion and cubs from money-hungry poachers.

It is hard to remember what was so compelling about these stories. But they kept me pinned in place, gripping my bowl of Cheerios, wearing my footie pajamas, slack-jawed and anxious to see what would happen next.

Recently I've been comparing myself to Tarzan. Not that I've been valiant or yodeling or even bare-chested. It's just that lately I've been swinging from distraction to distraction, unable to bear the company of my own mind. Every now and then I let go and fall into despair. It feels ancient, primordial, like warm oozing mud threatening to swallow me whole.

Looking back over my blog posts, I see this state of mind has prevailed for months now. I would not be surprised if Tamoxifen has some role in it. I would so like to throw those pills in the trash and walk away. While I'm at it, I'd also like to quit this every-three-month once-over by my oncologist, divorcing myself from my history of cancer entirely. But I'm not that brave/stupid, and in spite of these muddy feelings, I still prefer to live.

Last week I began training for a half-ironman triathlon - a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13 mile run, all in a row. I think I could do it. But do I really want to? It feels like I've been pushing myself into it without ever truly answering that question.

When I'm really honest with myself, I realize that this project feels like just another set of ropes over the abyss. I'm afraid to let go. Yet when I've allowed myself to feel the feelings, the urgent need to avoid the muck below has abated.

On the other hand, I'm also afraid of the challenge the half-iron presents.

So now I'm Tarzan inside a fear sandwich.

I guess I'll just hang out here, without footie pajamas or Cheerios this time, and see what happens next.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy--it really does sound like the Tamoxifen is doing a number on your moods. And it makes complete sense that it would. But understanding that doesn't necessarily "help" or make it any better necessarily. Re the half Ironman, I just completed a half thon this past weekend and it was fun and great and all but the training leading up to that alone--and then the race itself really requires a lot from your body. And that's jut one third of the half ironman. So maybe shoot for just a half thon so you don't deplete yourself too much? And use biking and swimming for gentle cross training? Just an idea... Give Millie some ear scratches from me! -Sue-

Jamie said...

It can be interesting to look back on previous posts when you suddenly see a pattern that you didn't see before. I am sorry to hear that you have had difficulty lately and seeming to allow yourself to skim the surface of what is troubling you. But maybe in some ways it is protective until you are ready, which it sounds like you are getting there. The way the Tamoxifen is affecting your mood sounds frustrating and big all on its own.