FOUR MONTHS TODAY (AGAIN)
I realized this morning when I went to the gym and my friends and trainers, Kathy and Kyle reminded me that it was the three month anniversary of my gym, Elevate. In some ways, we said, it went by in a nanosecond, but in other ways it seemed like Kathy has been there forever. Time is like that. This is the simple irony of time, though, fast or slow, it is a manipulation of our perception in some ways even when it seems to accelerate.
These days, time never seems slow, it is always flying by at the speed of light and every measurement these days seems to be the gauge of BM (before mastectomy) and after. So it struck me today when I had the conversation with Kath and Kyle that to the three month day of Kathy’s opening, it is today the four month day of my final surgery. The proud awakening moment for me is that I was at the Day one of Kathy’s opening and Day 2 and maybe even Day 3 and 4. And I realized today that would have only been one month from a surgery that took out the hard baesballs and put in the soft pliable tatas that presently reside in my upper body. My upper body that I now refer to as ‘buxom’ as it relates to my former self and one I am slowly getting used to.
I still have no feeling in my upper half, not my back area where Dr. M. removed back muscles and moved them to my front to support the silicone. I still have no feeling in my entire breast area or my nipple area or under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed to be sure the we caught it early was in fact the truth. I am not sure if I will ever have feeling there again. A small price to pay, I know. I look at myself in the mirror and I have these fake upright and for the most part realistic boobs that reflect back to me. With the birds eye view of retrospect if I known what I know now I would not elect to have liposuction again if I had been given a choice. In hindsight I am not even sure that I could have chosen not to. Within of the moving parts of mastectomies, it becomes confusing of what to say yes to (lumpectomy, preventative ovary removal, CHECK. Radiation, liposuction. QUESTIONABLE.) I think of all of the disruption I have done to my body, liposuction of everything I did was the worst disruptor. My body shape does not feel like my own and I don’t see an improvement. Christ, I didn’t want an improvement, I liked my well rounded hips and my strong thighs. Other women who have had the surgery or women who have not, but have heard about the “free, bonus” lipo discredit how much it fucks with your body. I don’t even know what an improvement would have been because frankly, whatever size my hips and thighs were BM they were mine and mine alone. Scooping out fat from my body to move it into another part of my body now with the wisdom of retrospect is creepy. Like radiation, I wish I had asked more questions or been given more information about it. I can hear Dr. M saying to me with his beautiful French accent, “It has only been four months, Alayne, no judgments on anything until a full year goes by, you are still swollen. You’ll see.”
This is what I mean when I contemplate the notion of time. Four months! It seems like at least a full year has gone by since my last surgery. I am coming up on ten months since the original surgery, April 7th. Then more of the countdown starts as I try to get to an uninterrupted five-year milestone. I will make my second attempt at this and just for my own personal reminder lest I ever forget, I was at my second six month mammogram check up after my first we caught it early diagnosis when I learned the dreaded it was likely back again. My birthday seems to be the special marking for the revisit. 50 and 52. For some reason five years seems to be the momentous occasion for cancer survivors. There will always be a count I suppose. Just like the first year count of every week your child grows to the next level when you first bring the little bundle home.
I balance the yin and yang of breast cancer surviving. The one part of it is the reality of it, my grandparents’ essence of pragmatism nestled tightly in the crevices of my bones. The science and the preventative doctors’ visits, the check ups and the regular conversations with my breast surgeon. Then there is the caution within the scope of all of this that is careful to not allow this to affirm another diagnosis by all of my thinking and concern about it if that makes sense. Writing it actually makes it feel a little confusing. There is that blow all cares to the wind part of me and stop the incessant reminders as I worry this could lead to an inevitable third diagnosis. Fuck IRA contributions and saving for a rainy day because today is raining and now is the present. This is married to the need to come back down to earth and realize in my typical, as Morgan rephrased for me the other day, all or nothing alayne brain. I am only two months shy of 53, I have a rich delightful life ahead of me that is the result of my two hands building a company that not only supports and has supported a wondrous group of women’s economics and spirits but also my own life, my son’s life and a four year college education as my ultimate gift to my son. This last year was intensely emotional and physical. I tested my body’s capability, my core vulnerability, my inner strengths and deep lessons I didn’t know I needed. I played with ideas and contemplated just being happy with where I was in my business. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue on the path I was one as health really is the gift that makes or breaks you. Not to mention I was tired. WAS. As in before, prior to, then. I feel different now, completely different. There is no more WAS. Now it IS. I have a new zest, a new joie de vivre. I always had this prior to all of this breast cancer. I love the definition of this- a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit, a delight in being alive.
I suppose that with all of this delight came a self imposed personal responsibility to spread it. Before the mastectomy, I would spread and spread the joy and the light, but often not keep any of it within. For some reason the before part was about giving away my power and not realizing the importance of keeping some of it for myself. Perhaps there was a part who thought I was undeserving, I don’t know. What I do know is that there was a lot of unrealized self-sabotage to this. Creative power is a force. I feel lucky get to say it is a main component of who I am. Creative power can be scary and rogue though if it is allowed a free ride and we have lost many to drugs and alcohol along the way. I can see how this can happen as I am my own personal science experiment constantly ebbing and flowing with my on again off again of sugar and alcohol consumption and fun at the time spendthrift habits that only cause negative feelings the next day. Surely not a healthy approach to spiritual and healthy growth.
Though I don’t think I actually caused breast cancer, for me anyway, I don’t think it was accidental that it came my way. What breast cancer has done for me (and I refuse to use the word gift– it is right up there with the word, ‘journey,’ I will not claim unless I am talking about blue diamond earrings and a trip back to Menorca), it has given me this weird permission to remove the protective cape I always kept on disguising it as personal power. I have learned I don’t need adornments and accoutrements as power. My power is within. Deep. Whole. Honest. Sincere. This is a rocking way to head to my fifty third year and now I am really ready to get to work.