I Survived Cancer and All I Got Was This Lousy Tummy Tuck
I had a kind of “exit interview” with a Nurse Navigator today, releasing me back into the wild after the main treatments of my breast cancer are complete. I am a Breast Cancer Survivor today, a much livelier club than the alternative one, so I am happy to join. I will be on hormone-zapping medication for at least five years, and that medication and its side effects will be monitored, but those effects are all preferable to cancer. I will also eventually have one more surgery to fix some deficiencies in the first boob-building attempt, but the insurance company is pushing back on that one, so don’t hold your breath.
Do I still feel sorry for myself, so much so that I went straight to the store after my appointment and bought a big bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? Yes. My breast is unsightly. My stomach hurts upon standing, stretching, touching, and lying down. I have no energy (a common effect of both the surgery and the new medication). I can’t muster any dangs to give when someone complains about something that doesn’t or shouldn’t matter.
Do I feel incredibly lucky, knowing that my cancer was caught early and was a sort that (after surgery) was easily treatable with hormone therapy rather than chemotherapy or radiation? Oh yes. My hair is certainly falling out, but I have another 20 years before I start to look like a dandelion seed puff blowing in the wind. I am gaining weight (see above M&Ms purchase) not losing weight from chemo tummy. My skin is not burnt from radiation (just dry and pasty from being me).
Do I feel guilty about feeling delicate and whiny when others have a much more difficult and painful path? Yep. It messes with your head to have a sort of survivor’s guilt after beating cancer.
I try to remind myself that the pain of my experience is unequal and incomparable to that of any other. I know some people who are bedridden by what would seem to me to be the mildest of challenges and some who keep chugging uphill with a list of diagnoses, any one of which would flatten me.
I’m glad I have had friends and family to help me through this, and my son and daughter-in-law to keep me laughing, and my puppy to hug, and last and most, my husband, who has demonstrated the true meaning of unconditional and selfless love. Drew, those times when you bathed my ugly, swollen, opened, rearranged and sewn-up body, full of glued-together scars and open drains, I was so thankful for you and aware of my good fortune. I am actually and truly blessed.
Thanks for reading my therapeutic rants during this cancer eradication battle. Looks like we won this one.