Even within the joy of simply being alive...there is pain, yes, great pain, both physical and emotional-and then of course, there is guilt from having or admitting it.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m utterly thankful, grateful, to be here, to be alive, to be with my family still...I just had no idea, how painful all of this could and would be-the loss of quality of life, in so many ways and areas, was not even considered, as when I was slammed with my shocking diagnosis, I just simply wanted to save my life.
There are so many parts and pieces to this...none that I even had time to contemplate, back in June. It was just move fast, now, try to save or simply sustain my life.
I now realize how much, or how many things, seemingly small things, that I took for granted just six short months ago.
I took for granted time, my health in some ways, a future, getting to the easy part, that my husband of thirty years and I, had hoped for now. I turned 50 in May and we celebrated that 30th anniversary a few days later. Two kids, high school sweethearts, who’d worked hard our whole lives. We’d skipped a honeymoon to buy our first house instead, thinking, we’d done everything we were supposed to do.
I had breast MRI’s since 2012 after a scary but thankfully clear biopsy. And my last clear breast MRI came in May of 2016. So how could this be? How could it be, and yes, even, why me; as ashamed as I am, to utter those words, knowing others have suffered far worse than me.
How was I to know, at the appointment where my biopsy results were revealed to me, that this would ultimately be, the last “normal” day of my life, as I had known it. Looking back now, I had no idea, that my entire world, would be stripped away from me, within that one sentence-“We’re sorry, but you have a very aggressive form of breast cancer.”
How could I know, last week, that a simple trip to the Hanes store, to purchase bras for my daughters, would leave me holding back hot, pain-filled tears, while others nonchalantly perused through hundreds of bras for themselves, or to wear for their significant other. I would never again have my own intact body, to fill out cute blouses, swimsuits, dresses-mother of the bride or groom dresses...
I put on my emotionless, blank, “happy” face, while feeling ever so heavily present, the tight ace bandage wrapped tightly around my bare, flat, scar ridden, painfully tender chest. No pretty bra for me. I pulled my shirt down, to make sure it covered the pocket tied under my shirt holding the stubborn surgical drain, still implanted within me, and delaying the start of my necessary 36 radiation treatments-yet another worry, all its own. I didn’t meet the other women’s eyes, wondering if my glaring lack of breasts to fill out my shirt was so apparent to them as it was to me. mother of the groom dresses for fall
I pulled my baseball cap further down onto my head to cover the gray hair sticking straight up from my recently bald scalp. I cringed at the thought of the pity, any pity being directed my way. Somehow, I was able to continue to smile through dropping my daughters, at their much needed outing with friends. My cancer has consumed their lives in too many damn ways, and they need their own normal; even if for only a few hours at a mindless movie.
I walked quickly to my truck, with the bag in my hand, biting my tears back, hoping they wouldn’t fall, before I reached the privacy of my truck and the anonymity of my dark sunglasses. So many things taken for granted... yet of course, of course I am thankful to be alive.
But alive at so many costs, where did my life go, where did my quality of life go. Simply, silly things, but defining and important in their own way...styling my hair, but now, what hair? Sprigs of gray hair standing straight up, upon my scalp. Hair that I don’t recognize as mine before...a lifelong blonde, even if Clairol helped to achieve or maintain it.
Oh I know, these are truly small issues and yes, they seem pitifully irrelevant, within the bigger picture of life...or are they?
I am embarrassed by my pettiness of longing for my hair, my breasts, my normal as I knew it. But I hope somehow, someone can understand....
There are good days, filled with immense and immeasurable joy. And then, there are days like this, hard days that I am embarrassed to even have to acknowledge; days which leave me almost completely incapacitated within my loss and grief. How was I to know that mourning would even be a part of this? And what exactly am I mourning?
It’s hard to stop those thoughts, which hover and creep in, within the quiet solitude. So that saying-be kinder than necessary, as you may not know, what another is dealing with or fighting through. Simply yes, just please be kind.