WHERE DOES TIME GO?
I realized yesterday that the two months since my last surgery passed uneventfully. Unlike the past few countdowns from my first lumpectomy in April of 2015 and then again the mastectomy in April of 2017 (what is it with April? I wish I could blame it on April Fools Day- no such luck) So when I say two months what I mean is time is flying since I had my mastectomy seven months ago and replacement parts reinstalled only two months ago. As I have learned to adapt and actually oddly enjoy this new and different part of myself, I find it so interesting how far I have come. When I was away over the holiday I reread some of my earlier writings. I was so distressed in some of those pre-mastectomy entries and I can’t help but compare the experience to having a baby. This may sound like an odd comparison, but there are so many similarities. For those who have had a baby and gone through any form of childbirth there is that familiar comment we women make. Once we go through having a baby and time goes by, the pain of childbirth softens so much that you almost forget the pain. This is what brings you to the desire for round two. Time is our greatest ally, surely.
As I get further away from the original surgery this past year, I am struck by how normal I feel. I have gone from completely freaked because I was having part of my body removed, to the exact opposite feeling of almost this was not nearly as big of a deal as I thought. Now just for the record LOUD AND CLEAR, I did not have chemo. My cancer was caught super early two fortunate times. I never lost my hair, I never puked, I was never stuck in the house because I couldn’t get out of bed. I was super healthy going in. All these elements were part of the whole success package. I am not WONDER WOMAN. I am not special. I am just lucky that when I realized that I hadn’t had a mammogram in four years when my doctor pointed it out, I made the appointment pronto. As I move through this new phase of my life, I am also lucky that I am in my early fifties. I have already had my baby, I have already gone past the need to sport a kick ass bathing suit at the beach, I have had great young sexual romps that require the upper body comfort needed. I am not saying that I am old or past the point of no return at all. I am just pointing out that there are a lot of significant milestones I have already had in my life and a double mastectomy came at a time when I have passed those. This is good fortune. I know of a lot of women who have to make painful decisions before they got to live the natural part of their female lives of babies and bodies and newly formed relationships.
With the glorious wisdom of retrospect, my personal favorite life view, it wasn’t that bad. I can’t believe that I am writing this. I have grown to actually weirdly embrace the whole experience. It has given me a sporting new way to love and appreciate my body. I have a new perspective on health and fitness and even more important on patience. I say NO more. I say YES less. I appreciate how short life is and I attempt to engage in the things that feed my soul, this includes conversations and interactions with great people and places. Breast cancer is part of my story, it is not my story. I will not say it was a gift, I will not declare it as a cliché journey. I wish I hadn’t had to have gone through this. I surely had lots of gratitude before all of this came into my life as an uninvited guest.
I reflect on my brother’s young loss at 25 from a rare form of lung cancer (and no he never smoked because I know you want to ask, everyone does). I consider how far cancer research has come and how many people are actually living and surviving cancer now. I consider that there is a high likelihood that if my brother had been diagnosed in this decade, he may be alive. Of course this is all speculation, but doesn’t it seem that people are living with and past the original diagnosis? It is not so much of a death sentence as it used to be. Of course I know many people are still dying of cancer and many people though they are living, their quality of life is not living at all. When we get devastating news, we have lots of choices to make and these choices are so personal, no one can make them for us. I am not minimizing cancer’s devastating wrath; I am just reflecting on how far we have come. I am trying to hang on to this notion so it doesn’t own me as I go forth in my life. These days it seems that cancer cases are so prevalent in our circles, it almost feels like we are talking about the common cold. In my case in the midst of the many cases I am aware of, mine is insignificant in comparison. There are a lot of emotions in saying this aloud because it feels like I am minimizing it, but in my world of pragmatic thinking and storing things in their neat little boxes, I get to wrap this one up and hopefully store it forever in my newly cleaned out basement. One may be asking why I would want to even wrap it up and keep it at all, why not just send it along with the other junk I got rid of a few months back? I actually don’t want to forget this experience. It has brought out the best in me, and it is has been a game changer in my worldly view on my future and in the way I live presently. I like the reminder even if it is wrapped up tight and placed in the farthest corner of my home, I don’t want to forget about this one. This surprises me, but then again, life is full of surprises.