Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Uncomfortably Numb?

I think I have spent the last 9 months in a weird sort of haze and now I might be coming out of it.  Ever since my diagnosis, I have been on cruise control, or crisis control, just getting stuff done that needed to be done without really figuring out how all of this new information I'd been inundated with was affecting me.  I think that I was just happy knowing that I was facing the cancer head-on and wasn't questioning my decisions, I was just going with my gut reactions.

But now I sit here at my computer, drains waiting to be removed from the tissue expander exchange procedure, stitches poking me uncomfortably under my new breasts (that I have yet to fully examine because I'm waiting for the doctor to tell me that he thinks everything is healing well and to tell me they are really sticking around before I start to relish in their perkiness!!!) I am starting to wonder what I do now?  Especially in light of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's (USPSTF) new guidelines, I feel like I need to do SOMETHING.  I have started looking on websites and blogs of fellow breast cancer patients and survivors to get some grounding, get some guidance and get some support.  There are a bunch of incredible women who have been through and are going through what I am going through, it just amazes me.

While I am searching for my own answers, I am comforted by something a friend's mother told me a few weeks ago.  When I was first diagnosed, my friend told me that if I want to talk with someone about what they went through, her mom had said she would talk to me.  At the time, I didn't call her because I was looking for women my own age, in a similar circumstance, to try and find some connection and support.  AND it was so tiring, and so draining to have a conversation with a current patient or recent survivor because I'd be on the phone for an hour with some stranger (with whom I now shared some awful bond) to try and find a parallel story and digest the information, I just didn't talk to that many people.  I found that too hard for me to handle during this period of crisis.

About a month ago, my friend's mother died.  My husband and I went to pay a shiva call and I sat and spoke with this woman about everything else BUT cancer - how her father was doing, about her new grandson, about my friend's kids - and then she went to talk with her other guests. 

As I was getting ready to leave, she stopped me and just said, "I just want you to know that I never thought there would be a day that I didn't think about breast cancer, and then, a few years after my treatment, I noticed I didn't think about it every day.  It got less and less."  (She is a ten year survivor.)  I just stood there as tears welled up in my eyes and said, "thank you".  It is hard to explain how wonderful it was to hear her say that, to know that while right now it seems so all encompassing, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that life really will go on.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing that. as I approach the end of the chemo chapter, I would have thought the anxiety would ease up but it seems to be getting worse as I feel like it's a layer of protection that I'll have to let go of and move on the next chapter. scares the crap out of me but hearing survivor stories, seeing them doing well years later, helps me bit by bit. I don't think I'll ever forget, but it'll be nice to not have it be the focus of every day, someday.