How bad, how good, does it need to get? How many losses, how much regret? What chain reaction would cause an effect? Makes you turn around? Makes you try to explain? Makes you forgive and forget? Makes you change?
Sometimes when I reflect upon the enormity of what has happened to me in these past two years, I simultaneously miss my life before all of this but realize how much I have grown as a result of my disease. I wonder if cancer changes your emotional maturity to dog years, because it really seems like a lifetime ago since I was living my life, all cancer free.
I try to keep up with news pertaining to breast cancer, and I often find myself getting on my soap box and spouting off why I believe the sexualization of breast cancer is harmful for everyone. My one-year check-up was back in March, so I've been thinking about mastectomies and reconstruction for pretty much four months now. Once I decided that, "Fuck these things, I'm getting rid of them," I tried to learn as much about the topic as I could. I find it comforting, especially while at doctors' appointments, to be as knowledgeable about breast cancer as possible.
Breast cancer has become such a huge part of my life, and it's one that I can't shove into a box and hide in the back of my closet, no matter how much I or others would like for me to. I have been through more in the last two years (health wise) than most of my friends have or ever will experience in their lives.
I was diagnosed with the disease that killed my mother, changing my life forever. I had chemotherapy that almost killed me, and I often recall that feeling of when I was choking to death and trying not to die. I found out that my family was not the type of family that rallies around you when sick. I have had multiple surgeries, non-lethal chemo that didn't kill me, radiation. I went through such a deep depression that I wondered if things would be better if I had just died. (Srsly.) On top of all that, one year later I had to have my freaking breasts removed.
The old me died on September 22, 2010.
Breast cancer is a part of me and who I am now as a person. Granted, it's not who I am, but it's been a pretty major part of my life for almost two years.
I wish I could stop bringing it up when people ask me, "Hey, what's new?" I wish I could stop making boob jokes or stop vocalizing every time I feel a sharp pain or whatever side effect from all that cancer has thrown at me. I wish I could see some members of my family like I did before I got sick, but all I see are people who cared about their own comfort level than helping someone who really needed it.
But then I remember the wonderful things that came out of my disease, like chemo nurse Denise who saved my life. Every time I see her at AGH, I get so happy and want to hug her. Because of cancer, I have found amazing wonderful fantastic online friends, like Tashi, Jo and Nikki, who know me and understand what I'm going through. Even when I didn't have the support of my nearby parents, I could vent to my neighbors or my online family (hi commune!) about what was I was going through. Plus, I have a wonderful boyfriend who stuck by my side through all this and now I have a puppy!
Breast cancer had me so grateful for all the blessings I have in my life. I see my life now not through rose colored glasses, but with the vision of someone who has been through hell and grateful to be back amongst the living again.
I don't think there will ever be a point in my life where breast cancer doesn't pop in my mind in some form or another. If anyone in my life ever asks me, "When are you going to move on and get past this," my response would be: "Unless you have been in a similar situation, like an extended illness, you should probably shut your mouth."
The best I will promise anyone is that I'll get out more, socialize and take up some hobbies. But never talk about breast cancer again, yeah.... not going to happen.