Friday, November 18, 2011

Cancer's A Real Jerk

Things are going pretty well right now with the exception of being exhausted 100% of the time. My hair is growing back, and I even have a part in it, I would say 'style' but I think that's jumping the gun a little. Chemo seems like a distant memory and I have started to sleep on my stomach again, it is glorious. I guess it's the small victories that I have learned to celebrate.

Although things are falling into place, I still can't get over how much of a jerk cancer really is. My hair will grow out and I will forget the pains of chemo as time passes but I am starting to learn that once you've had cancer, it becomes a part of you, the same way your fingers or nose or knees are a part of you. It doesn't matter what I do, I will always have had cancer. Even though it's been 8 months since I found out and 2 months since chemo ended, I will always have had cancer.

There are so many reminders in one day of my cancer. I tried on a dress the other day that criss-crossed over my chest. In other words, it had a sort of V-neck neck line. Anyway, the sales lady came over to me and told me that all I needed was a good push-up bra. Ha! I would pay good money for a push-up bra if it made me look like I had breasts to be pushing up. I didn't bother telling her that there was nothing there to push up and instead just told her that I didn't like the colour. It's amazing how insecure you can feel in that quick of a moment. It wasn't a big deal, I forgot about it by the time I left the store (dress-less) but it just makes me realize that cancer is going to affect my day to day living for the rest of my life.

Two days prior to trying on the dress, I was looking for a hair clip of sorts. I asked a sales woman if she had what I was looking for and she showed me a headband. I can't wear a headband without looking like a new born baby but I didn't want to tell her that so I told her that I was looking for a hair clip not band. She assured me that I was foolish for trying to get a hair clip to stay in my hair as it was too short. She was really snotty! I didn't tell her that I didn't have a choice in looking like a boy and what she didn't know was that I had a fascinator in my hair the weekend before that stayed in all night. I wanted to say "you know what, when I wear a headband, I look like a new born baby about to get my first professional pictures taken. I have hair for the first time since June so, when I ask for a hair clip, even if I need to use a whole package of bobby pins to keep it attached to my hair, I don't want a headband!" but of course, I said "Ok, thank you very much."

I didn't bother telling either sales woman because it only makes them embarrassed, apologize and leaves us both in an awkward situation. I know this from experience, I have told a sales woman that I had a mastectomy after she told me to wear a different bra to change the look of a shirt that I was trying on and I foolishly told her that no bra would fix what I had going on under the shirt. She felt bad and I felt bad for telling her.

Needless to say, I ended up going with a dress that I already owned and decided to go with a headband that blended in with my hair ('my hair' what beautiful words) and didn't make me look like I was 3 weeks old.

While I'm on the topic of cancer being a jerk, I found another lump in my breast only this time it is in my left breast. Apparently it's from the reconstruction; the tissue hasn't attached itself to the skin and it's nothing to worry about. Will it reattach itself? And is it nothing to worry about? Or is it the same 'nothing' that my first lump was? Is it normal breast tissue or is it righty's cousin back for revenge? I have looked into a prophylactic mastectomy (they go in and shell out the breast tissue and replace it with an implant) but it's not that easy. I have an 80% chance of losing my nipple and there's no guarantee that it will be a one-step reconstruction and instead I might end up needing another expander and that means I would need a third surgery. Finally, it still doesn't 100% protect me from getting breast cancer and in the future, screening tests will have a more difficult time identifying any abnormalities. Oh, and I have an appointment on December 2nd to find out the results of my BRCA test. You think that once you've heard "you have cancer" there will be no more huge surprises but unfortnately, the past 8 months has been packed full of mean surprises; here's hoping on December 2nd I don't find out about another one.

You know how you seem to be able to hire someone to do just about anything anymore? You can hire someone to plan your entire wedding and you can hire someone to help choose something as personal as a baby name for you, well, I want to hire someone who will make all of my cancer-related decisions for me. I'd like to ask that person, assuming he or she 'exists'; What surgeries should I avoid and which ones should I go through and what foods should I avoid eating in order to never have cancer again? And while you're at it, you might at well stick around for the next five years to help with the side effects of Tamoxifen and how to deal with the constant fear of recurrence, oh, and fertility and child bearing, and child rearing and... you know what, can you move in with me and Keith?

Do you know what I actually need? I need that wand that they use in Men in Black to erase people's memory. I need to be flashed by the wand, have my memory erased, and then told some elaborate story about why I'm not working right now, why I'm so exhausted, and where my right breast went and of course, this story cannot include the word 'cancer'. Does anyone know where I can find such a thing? Cancer has controlled the past 8 months, I don't want it to control the next 8 decades.

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