Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Are You?

It's possible that I may have some pent-up anger lurking just below the surface.  Today at Safeway when the cashier asked me how my day was, I had an almost uncontrollable urge to say, "Well, I have breast cancer and I have to have both of my boobs chopped off - how is YOUR day going?!"  Actually, the urge was to scream it.  Instead I just answered, "Um...okay...."  My first answer probably would have been inappropriate, but I'm not sure.  In fact, I don't know what to say when anyone asks how I am.  How am I?  I don't even know myself.  Right now, "How are you?" seems like the most difficult question I've ever heard!

Perhaps one of the hardest things about cancer is that you LOOK fine and, really, I feel fine too.  I don't look sick (well, no more than usual).  So, it's hard to come to terms with the fact that there is something in your body trying to kill you. It's difficult to know that you are basically going to mutilate your body when, essentially, you feel okay.

However, today, my left breast is really hurting.  It doesn't help that I'm STILL sore and bruised from the biopsy that was over 2 weeks ago (My boob is now yellow in case you were wondering.  You weren't wondering?  Oh, well, now you know anyway.).  But, now I'm having shooting pains in my breast.  And it makes me realize that I HAVE had this pain before - recently!  Over the past few months I've been having shooting pains in this breast.  Not all the time, not everyday even - just randomly.  And I never gave it a second thought - because, let's face it, I'm getting OLD and I have aches and pains - nothing to run to the doctor about.  I don't want to be one of THOSE people.  I spend enough time at the doctor, I don't need to invent things to go see him about.

However, they say "Cancer doesn't hurt until it's too late."  At this point, maybe I'm just "inventing" pain because it still seems weird that it doesn't hurt.  How can it be in there, invading my body, and not HURT?  But cancer doesn't have to hurt physically to do damage of course.  I guess my heart hurts enough to make up for it.

At this point, it's just so hard to go on.  I'm lonely all day but I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to be alone but I don't want anyone to come over.  I don't want to stay home but I don't want to go anywhere.  It's hard to live my life day to day just waiting but I don't want the future to come too fast.  (Confused?  Ya, me too)  One of my friends that recently went through Breast Cancer (shout-out to Shelly - woot!) and had a lumpectomy said she just wanted the bad cut out.  For me, I'm not so anxious.  I wish I could slow time down - just a little longer please - just a little longer living with my body the way it is.  Because, for me, cutting the bad out means losing my breasts.  And as much as I try to face that everyday, I just can't. I stall going to bed every night because going to bed means getting to the next day faster and one less day when I have my breasts.

Little Kidney
And now I'm the one going around looking at everyone's breasts wishing I was them.  I don't even care who they are or what they look like, I just want their breasts and their body - a body that isn't turning on them. I don't want to live this life of cancer anymore.  Five months ago when I had to make a choice to try to save part of my kidney or not - it was easier.  Easier!  I made the decision in about 5 minutes in the doctor's office!  Even though trying to save part of your kidney is a much more difficult operation, that is what I opted to do.  You see, you NEED your kidney and it seemed smart to try to keep it if I could.  And it worked out - I lost 25% of my kidney to renal cancer but the other 75% seems to be doing the job just fine (as far as we know...tests are in July).  Why then, is it so much harder to cut off something that you really don't NEED?  My breasts serve no real purpose except to be a couple of lumps under a shirt.  But, to me, they serve a huge purpose, obviously.  Obviously, I'll be the same person after the mastectomy, but I know I won't feel the same - maybe I'll never feel the same.  Maybe, in the end, I'll feel different in a good way, I'll grow and change and be happy - but that's a long road to get there.

Right now, I'd really just like to lay in bed everyday all day in the fetal position.  I tried it for a while today but then I got a cramp in my leg and had to pee.  I can't even do depression correctly.

So, I go on.  I take the kids to school, I go to the grocery store, I run my little business, I feed the dogs, I make dinner.  I live life, knowing that my life is soon going to change forever in drastic ways.  If you see me, you can ask me, "How are you?" but just expect a look of utter confusion in return.

Boob Count = 42


  1. SO glad you labeled that kidney.... I can't even begin to tell you what I might have thought otherwise... pink squishy looking thing in a diaper? (sigh....I'm suck a sick pup)

    The only thing I know is that there have been times in my life where people say things like "I don't know how you do it." And if I'm honest, I have to respond, "I don't do it.... I just put on a really good show. But we make it to the end of the day fed, clothed (except for the kids daily streaking before bedtime), and occasionally even clean."

    Sometimes that's all a successful day has to look like. (and you don't need boobs for it either!)

    You really are *constantly* in my thoughts. if I ever grow up, I think I want to be just like you (well... minus the lumps).

  2. Yep, that "how are you?" question really changes after something like this. Made me realize that I might want to think of another way to greet people - these days, I try to say something like, "Hi, nice to see you!" instead of asking the dreaded question (which no one really wants an honest answer, to, anyway).

    And yes, it's bizarre to walk around feeling fine and yet to know this horrible disease is lurking within you. And that the docs will have to make you feel horrible in order to make you better.

    My heart aches for you. The idea that your body will change, irrevocably, is so hard. The only way I can find anything positive to think about this is to feel about my huge incision is that it's something like the changes in my body after having babies. Stretch marks, loose skin, a puffy stomach, sagging boobs - all signs of the great things my body did to help two babies grow. My new scar is a sign of what I did to save my life. I don't for a minute compare mine to what you will have after a double mastectomy, because I know there are bigger issues there...just offering a thought.

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your fears. I think doing that makes you stronger, and makes us all realize how much courage you need just to get through a day. And your sense of humor will help get you through this. You are such a gift to all of us who know you. We're not ready to give that up, so you keep fighting, missy!

    ((hugs)) Beth

  3. Your courage (even if you don't see or feel it) is there supporting you and your family. Your blog is a testament of your courage. And you should know that even if you are wandering through the dark, your family loves you and your friends support you.
    (Big Boob Squishing Hug, (boobs not required)) Laura