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Thoughts Of Suicide

Confession: March 24th was going to be the end for me. Months with no car, pain, painful treatments, meds screwed up, isolated, low on cash...

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Breast Lump Chronicles: Recovery Road Realizations

Almost two weeks ago, I had a double mastectomy. One minute I'm on the couch listening to my local news anchor talk about the importance of doing monthly breast self-exams and the next I'm waking up from anesthesia flat-chested and (hopefully) cancer-free. I was discharged from the hospital with about fifty staples across my chest protected by a layer of gauze and hospital tape with two bulbs--one for each side of my chest--that looked like toy hand grenades at the end of rubber tubing siphoning off any blood that might be left over from the surgery. A week later, all the staples and drains were removed, I officially became 'untethered' and free. Now, it is basically just the dog and me trying to resume 'activities of daily living.'
While I have been given appointments with oncologists and radiologists per protocol following breast cancer surgery, I have to admit that I feel strange. Maybe I feel strange about what I DON'T feel. I don't feel like going out and conquering the world because I had the diagnosis of breast cancer. Right now, all I want to do is feel comfortable. I don't like the feeling of a thousand paper cuts up and down my chest. I don't feel like 'playing through the pain.' I don't want to 'be nice' and stoic when my friends make unfortunate comments about how lucky I am now that I don't have to buy any more bras. I don't feel like I somehow let myself down for choosing a double mastectomy without immediate reconstruction AND I don't feel less female just because I no longer have 'boobage' though going from 38DD to nothing is quite a change.
I like not feeling I was singled out in the cancer lottery. Yes, it might've been easier to understand and accept my diagnosis had I any family history of cancer but no one ever said all surprises are good ones. I like how the world didn't stop 'just' because I had cancer. The house still needs cleaning, bills still need to be paid and the world is still a place of good and evil. Friends are still friends and I have no 'long lost' ones who suddenly decided to look me up because cancer was associated with my name. In the best sense, not a lot has changed for me. Some things have. I credit my mostly positive experience with Cancerland to a book by Madhulika Sikka entitled "A Breast Cancer Alphabet." I needed the author's everyday, matter-of-fact, 'girl-talking' words to demystify the disease and for lack of a better description make cancer "not THAT big of a deal."
Upon receiving my cancer diagnosis, I instantly stopped smoking. I needed to feel like I was being proactive in some way against the disease and putting down cigarettes for good made me feel like I was 'fighting back.' Pink has now joined black as one of my two favorite colors. I look great in both! I have to follow doctors' orders...all of them--not just the ones I want to follow. I have to 'check in' with my son. I'm letting him be there for me. I have to be open and honest about needing help. I have to accept help. I have millions and millions of sisters (and brothers) who've been where I am and to not call on them when I need to would be attempted martyrdom. No thank you.
At the end of the day when I'm getting ready for bed, I "take a look." Despite the remaining and temporary post-op discoloration, I have to admit I am ''diggin'' my new body. A post-op double mastectomy body CAN be beautiful. I am at my ideal weight and firming up on schedule. Little by little, I'm getting back in shape. If I keep this up, I'll have arms to rival Kelly Rippa! Worth a try!

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