TEN DAYS LEFT
Fingers resting at the keyboard, I ponder these three words knowing that the next ten days will mysteriously accelerate. Today, actually this next three days, is jam packed with overbookings, overscheduling almost like I intuitively knew I would need the distractions.
It is 4:30 am and usually I am a really good sleeper. My heart races. If I had a blood pressure machine handy, I am guessing my usual very normal healthy blood pressure would be in overdrive. I am almost scared to have it checked knowing that just adds to my beating heart. I try deep breathing, endless meditation podcasts, reading, binge television, walking on the beach, working out, eating healthy, nothing seems to be working this time.
But this time is different.
Last time I was just going for surgery that was only going to modify the way my upper body looked. This time it is going to eviscerate it.
Sure it is not a leg, an arm, an eye. Yes I am 52, not 25, nor child bearing years. Yes I have had a half a century with my existing body parts.
Yes I will be alive.
I totally get it.
I have not lost the ability to look at this situation with gratitude and humility.
But I still grieve this loss, this surgery, this adjustment, the unknown, the synthetic parts of this that will soon become part of my body, the recovery. The reality that I often forget of the hard facts that I have a genetic mutation that adds a new layer of vulnerability. The same genetic mutation that likely took my brother at 25, my father at 68, my great grandfather at 59. My grandmother’s breast at 37 in 1957 when no one talked about “it” and “it” was radical back then.
I seriously thought that by radically changing my lifestyle, no sugar (cancer loves sugar, right?) No dairy (dairy = estrogen, right?) No alcohol (alcohol = more cancer, right? Well maybe not no alcohol….) Working out (I did that anyway) Meditating almost regularly (low stress = low cancer return, right?) Listening to integrative and innovative doctors on podcasts, meeting with said integrative nutritionist, going on an anti cancer supplement regimen, eating only organic, grass fed, pasture raised, local whenever possible, (just rereading this, I want to laugh at me, for sure my brother, father and grandmother are laughing if that is possible).
I seriously thought I would be finished with this cancer, that I would be able to check it off my list as something else I accomplished (just rereading this, I want to punch me out). I actually went to a specialist in Boston who is a genetic oncologist to present my reasoning on why I didn’t think I needed to go on the aromatase inhibitors the not genetic oncologist was trying to convince me unconvincingly to take. I didn’t. She supported my plan. Fuck off big pharma, you aren’t sucking me into your vortex.
I feel like I am whining. I am not, well maybe a little. This time I am trying to deliberately allow grief. This is not organic for me. Sure I can compare my situation to every worse case out there and there are many, but in the same breath it is my scenario.
I am a resilient, strong, glass half full kind of woman.
But in 10 days I am going to lose both of my breasts to a surgical knife. I know there are boundless cases of mastectomies and women who are alive and happy because of them. Perhaps when I have moved through all of the recovery and the quality of life disruptions I will feel better knowing I am alive because of this. But for now I want to wallow and grieve and feel sorry for myself. This is uncomfortable for me, but I am allowing the feelings for at least the next 10 days.