Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Feeling Betrayed By My Body

Thank you to everyone for their love and well wishes as I went through surgery in late November. It was quite an experience spending my first ever time in a hospital overnight (why don’t they let you sleep when you’re in the hospital?!) I’ve been healing very nicely from the surgery. I have three incisions - one in the arm pit, one in the side, and one in the back, through which the surgeon used instruments to remove one of the tumors from my lung. That tumor was sent for testing, the results of which I should receive sometime this week. Once the results are received, we’ll know what kind of treatments will be possible to try to stop the cancer.

For those who have asked, if you’re looking for ways to help or support me, you can find information here: https://www.erincronicals.com/2018/11/how-you-can-help.html

I do have one major side effect that has made things very difficult for me. As many of you know, I am a singer and this cancer has caused me to lose my singing voice. The cancer and subsequent surgery have caused a lot of mucus to get created, and it’s particularly nasty and thick. For some reason, it likes to hang out on my vocal cords and no amount of water, steroids, antibiotics, steaming, supplements, clearing of the throat, etc, make it budge. The result is me sounding like a frog (no joke) when I try to sing. It’s baffling doctors and it has caused me to have to forgo the one piece of personal expression that means the most to me.

What’s it been like to have lost my singing voice? A betrayal ... I feel betrayed by my body. I’m left feeling a sort of despair I have never felt before. Part of the despair is deep sadness for time I’m losing performing this holiday season (I’ve had to back out of 4 performances) while also losing an important thing that makes me feel happy. I feel like I’ve let down the producers in my life because I’ve had to back out of projects that for which they counted on me. Each time I see videos of friends singing I ache to be able to join them, and then feel despair that I can’t. Part of the despair is a crippling fear that my voice will never get better. (I have been having vocal problems since August due to the pneumonia that I am still dealing with.) I’m also filled with anger - it just doesn’t seem fair that I’ve had to go through this for so long... and then I become angry at myself for being so self-involved to despair so much. It leaves me feeling defeated, which is not common for me.

I have to mention how difficult it is for me to share so vulnerably. So many people see me as strong and capable, and I want to be that for people. I don’t want people to think I’m complaining or that I’m giving up. But if I only shared on the days when I feel invincible, you’ll never really know what it’s like to live with Stage IV cancer. And that feels even more disingenuous.

So that’s what it’s like to be me right now, for better or for worse. I have much happier moments when I’m not thinking about singing, but my heart aches when I remember that my voice isn’t working the way I want it to. When I got to my oncologist next week I’ll ask for a referral to a voice ENT and hopefully she/he will be able to address the issue. My goal is to have everything back in working order by December 16 (the next time I’m scheduled to sing.) In the meantime, it’s back to supplements, steaming, water and hopeful thinking.

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As a reminder, if you’re looking for ways to help or support me, you can find information here: https://www.erincronicals.com/2018/11/how-you-can-help.html


Erin Cronican is a breast cancer survivor, whose career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com.

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