(There’s a bit of profanity in this one. Head’s up)
I’ve begun to think of the current situation as such:
Phase I: Planning, Zoning, and Pre-Construction Pricing (diagnosis, planning)
Phase II: Demolition and Construction (surgery, chemo)
Phase III: Final Build-Out (recovery, remission)
Phase I is coming to a close on Monday morning, so there is a flurry of activity. My bi-monthly Crazy Bitch club threw me a party, replete with an Edible Arrangement and gifts. It was unexpected and wonderful, plus I’ve received a couple of sweet, loving notes and gifts in the mail. It is so very comforting and humbling, to know that friends care enough to do these things. Some people aren’t lucky enough to have that.
And then there are doses of reality, times when my eyes are opened to something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. My friend, K, is phenomenal at nailing those little pieces of jello to the wall. She, you see, is also a member of Club C. She didn’t stay in the Boob Bunker, though, but she went through quite a bit of the same bs. So we were talking about it, and how the lead up (a.k.a. Phase I) has been, in a very real way, driving me f’ing insane. Really, it has! Aside from being tired and stress-eating my way into puffiness, the concept of surgery is really messing with me. I’m walking in, and will tell hospital people the same thing that I’ve had to repeat ad nauseum for the past month: Yes, I’m having a bi-lateral mastectomy, skin & nipple sparing with immediate reconstruction. I want to scream and shout that HELL-TO-THE-FUCK NO, I DON’T WANT THIS! But that’s not going to happen. You know this. I know this. My surgeons are fairly confident of this. I think hospital security might be leery, though. But I’m walking in. Of my own volition. I’ve known I have cancer for close to two months, and made this decision over a month ago. I’ve had five weeks-FIVE-to get me to this point.
What K pointed out, bluntly (which is a huge part of why I adore her so) is that,
“Bitch, you don’t feel sick. You feel just fine. It won’t hit till you wake up from surgery in pain.”
That’s it. Nail on the head. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve had to live with this, it has completely torn my world asunder, and I don’t feel sick. Mastectomies and recovery and chemotherapy, these are things for people who are dying. Who feel sick. Not me. Not for women who just bought new cars, who have their acts together, who finally figured it out. Cancer is for uplifting people who wake up after diagnosis and immediately change their entire lifestyle, whose families go along with said changes, who finish chemo and their facebook pics go viral and the next week run a 5k. You’re supposed to feel sick and then find out it’s stage 2 (or 3, we won’t know till about a week or so after surgery) cancer, and have a big OMG moment that really drives it home. I’m still waiting. Right now it just feels sort of like when I had my c-sections and was in panic mode before hand. Except slightly more nausea & less panic because I’m not going to recover and simultaneously take care of a brand new human and several young offspring of various shapes and sizes. I’ll recover enough to start chemotherapy, which by all accounts will kick my ever-loving ass. So, essentially, the breakdown is kind of like this:
Tests, diagnosis, go crazy, keep going crazy, calm the hell down, make hard choices, again go varying degrees of crazy, mixed with calm, have surgery, recover just enough for chemotherapy, want to die, recover from chemo, be declared in remission, apologize profusely for the truckloads of crazy, pick up the pieces of your life.
Huh. Ok. Got it.
The good news as I move into Phase II is that I really don’t have much choice and am as ready as I can get without actually wanting to be involved in any of this nonsense. I’ve also noticed that I am having an unusually positive effect on others. That’s awesome and unexpected. Really, because how many times are we having a totally shitty day and someone comes along and just floors us with perspective. A. Lot. And here I am, cancering my little heart out, felling tired, forgetful, and totally not sick because I save the crazy for the ones I love most and who are legally bound to deal with me, i.e. my family and very close friends, and I’m not all “Woe is me! I’m dying!” No. No! I’m like, you know what? My plans got thwarted, and maybe that means my plans weren’t going to work out. Maybe it means that this is exactly what I needed, a break from the craziness of working an insane schedule, not connecting with my kids, not seeing my husband or teen for days at a time sometimes. Maybe I needed a course correction to get my head screwed back on straight. After quite a long stretch of being checked out, maybe this is what it took for me to be forced to check back in.
So here it is. Here I am, not working, not back in class, not being fabulous about the town. What next? I’ll heal from surgery, and I’ll get past chemo. My hair will regrow and my scars fade. I just need to focus on the uncharted course that is the rest of my life. Sometimes it’s nice to be the one that puts hope in the heart of a stranger, though. To receive the sweet note and gift from a friend. To be myself in a way that ten years ago was beyond impossible to imagine. Other than that, I have no idea how it will all play out.
Just remember, none of us are strong. We aren’t. Some of us are just awake enough to realize that stupid shit is going to happen in life and that dealing with it head on is the only thing that will keep us sane.
Today is Friday, July 24. On the morning of Monday, July 27, I will walk into a hospital and check myself in. I will get undressed and answer questions and get prepped for surgery. I’ll make jokes and put others at ease, and will be scared. I’ll cry and desperately wish things were different. I’ll laugh. I’ll go to sleep and awake to a different reality. I’ll have had cancer excised from my body, but it will only be the start of the rest of my life.
I think a new playlist is in order. So is a fresh mani-pedi.