THREE MONTHS TODAY
Remember when you (if you) had your first baby and she or he turned THREE MONTHS? The change of language happened swiftly. “How old is your baby?” people would ask prior to this. “ Three weeks, seven weeks, ten weeks,” we spoke in segments of our calendars. But when twelve weeks came around, there was a significant shift and the answer became THREE MONTHS instead of twelve weeks. We wanted more substance in time. We wanted to create a more fullness to their littleness, their vulnerability. The THREE MONTHS time stamp sealed their fate into being a growing person and on the important track of aging.
Today is THREE MONTHS.
It sounds so much longer than ELEVEN WEEKS. There is a momentum to weeks as a definition of healing, but THREE MONTHS TODAY feels like a long time. I almost feel normal, that is until I wake up in the morning and look down and see two bowling balls standing completely upright even though I am lying completely flat. We fifty year old mamas know damn straight that this is a near impossible feat in our aging upper bodies.
Everywhere I go because I know so many people, I run into people I know. I went to a beautiful event last night with about four hundred women, the night before I went to an outdoor concert attended by at least two thousand people and I saw hundreds of familiar faces. Because I am an open book, (or open chest these days) there is a curiosity about my speedy recovery. Frankly I am curious too and I wish I could do a full blown show and tell. When I was on the other side of this, the side of curiosity and fear and worry, I had no idea about what went into this experience. I was afraid and the irony is that I was not afraid of the cancer part of this which as I write this find hilarious, but afraid of the surgery and the post experience.
I have healed rapidly and I feel amazing and this seems like a spectacular occurrence to the women who have not gone through this. I love that my writing gives women permission to ask the questions, to feel comfortable poking and prodding at these hard discs that are my upper body. I am humbled that my writing has given some a window into this one particular experience that is so undeniably female. We are talking about breasts and women and breasts have significant histories. Breasts get a lot of press, but in all sincerity, there are so many other cancers that need cover girl status. It’s not nearly as sexy to discuss ovarian and pancreatic cancer as it is breasts, but these cancers are the deadly ones. Breast cancer these days is so much more curable if caught early.
I border line between avoiding doctors visits and pharmaceutical prescriptions aka burying my head in the sand and being proactive and doing the regular checkups that we must advocate for ourselves. Not getting a mammogram can be a deadly decision. Then a breast cancer diagnosis becomes a very different conversation then the one I was fortunate to have. I am lucky because for some reason I let four years go by. I always got mammograms, and then decided to go on a two year cycle instead of every year. When I went through my separation from my husband, left my home of twenty years, had the self induced responsibility and weight of breaking up our family unit, then a flood at my business, that two year cycle mistakenly turned into four years. The only reason I even realized my miss was due to a random visit to my doctor because I was sick and needed to get checked for strep throat. When I was there, my always very normal blood pressure was super high. I became nervous as I also started experiencing some serious heartburn and was thinking about heart disease or a stroke or something horrible. So I went to my regular doctor to get my blood pressure checked again. After some good deep breathing and five tries, my blood pressure was normal and we made an appointment for something that would check my heartburn. On the way out, Dr. T said, “Alayne, do you realize it has been four years since your last mammogram?” “No, I didn’t realize that.” I made the appointment and here I am, three years later. Two cancer diagnois’, three surgeries, radiation, genetic testing, positive BRCA2, having to tell the family to get genetic testing.
Alive. Happy. Brave. Fearless. (kind of).
Paying attention to our body’s messaging systems is our best ally. I am fortunate to have the wisdom of instant replay and can see how my life and this new life unfolded before my very eyes. It is serendipitous and it does feel like divine intervention, the unusual sickness in the winter, the need to go to the medical center, the high blood pressure needing to get rechecked. Because I know my body’s mechanisms, I paid attention to the tweaks and took action accordingly. I am a better person from this. Yes there is more surgery, yes there are more fills (well maybe only one more, drats, I was really enjoying my boob fills with Dr. Hottie) but the nuggets, the wisdom, and the friendships I have formed from an otherwise shitty diagnosis has made this THREE MONTHS TODAY, some of the nicest memories in my already very full life.
I wouldn’t dare to say that breast cancer was a blessing because that just sounds cliché and stupid, I don’t wish breast cancer and mastectomies on anyone because lots can go wrong. But when things go right, HERE I AM.