So for the past 3 months or so I have been doing some serious avoiding. Avoiding the reality of my diagnosis and what still lies ahead for me. I have just been enjoying living so much! I have been running again, yoga-ing, crafting and I've even taken some sewing classes and finally learned to use my sewing machine. I was suppose to have my reconstructive surgery in March, but my right "problem child" breast was not stretching very well so they decided to post-pone my surgery until May. As much as I wanted to get the surgery over with I was also not looking forward to "going back to bed" as I refer to the recovery process. So I just delved into enjoying life even more!
Now May is here and I had my pre-op appointment last Thursday. The plastics doc says that things look pretty good for me and that when he is done I'll be laying on the coast of France on a nude beach somewhere...I asked him if he was paying for the trip, he laughed so I guess that's a no go, but I did appreciate his confidence. He assured me that this would be an outpatient surgery with much less risks for infection and that it would be much easier than the mastectomy even though they have quite a bit of reconstructing to do...or he tried to assure me.
I must admit that I am anxious about going back in for more. It was even hard to go back to the Stanford cancer center after a couple months of freedom from Cancer related medical visits. I saw so many stages of what I had been through sitting in that waiting room...the scared new patients, the women sick and weak from chemo, the woman with the drains hanging out of her shirt who had just had her breast removed, the lady who like me had the finally growing in short hair and smiled in comradery, all fellow soldiers in an ongoing battle.
That's whats been hitting me finally these past few weeks is that this is an ongoing battle. I would like to pretend that because I have made it through some of the roughest parts that it is over, but as the next stage begins I am forced to acknowledge what still lies ahead for me and the unknowns that still exist.
That's the thing about me, I want to be ok. I want to celebrate life and live and focus on the positives. I am just so happy to be alive and so happy that they caught my cancer early and that there was a way to get rid of it. But then there is the other part that I avoid or hide that is the lingering realities of having Breast cancer and having both BRACA-1 and BRACA-2 genes. I still have 2 operations ahead of me in May and at the end of July to reconstruct my breast, because I am 31 years old and I do want to have breast again. I then have screenings every 3 months to check my ovaries due to my heightened risks of ovarian cancer related to those BRACA genes and blood tests to monitor my risks of re-occurrence and other cancers related to the BRACA genes. I will have to have another operation to remove my ovaries before the age of 40, but I am keeping them for now in hopes that I will be able to have a child (or children) after my surgeries this summer. There is also the unknown of triple negative breast cancer, which means that it is not caused by proteins or estrogen or progesterone, so they are not sure what causes it and cannot provide a treatment to prevent it in the future.
This is where I am. I am struggling to find peace with this all. Sometimes I feel like I avoid it or deny it but I also think that in some ways I just refuse to let it define me or consume my life. I like to live in the good place and celebrate the positives in my life, sometimes I just visualize myself riding the waves of cancer or bending in the wind like a tree in the storm. I will always be the optimist and celebrate life and continue to focus on what wonderful blessings I have in my life and Cancer has only intensified my love for life and tightened my embrace on life! I have faith that whatever may come of the aftermaths of Cancer and the unknowns of my diagnosis that I will survive the storm and ride the waves.
Yes, I am a Cancer survivor and a fighter and I will have to keep fighting, I don't get to hang up my armor just yet and i may always have to keep it handy for the risks that I face. I am learning that I have to accept that this is part of me now, a part that I have to incorporate into my identity and a part of me I have to find peace with. I can't just hate the sick part of me, I have to learn to admire her for what she went through and not deny her but embrace her. I have seen so many people going through this battle of Cancer who have not been as fortunate as myself and who have had to endure so much worse, which makes me so grateful and appreciative for what I have. Sometimes I feel that it makes me deny myself the ability to appreciate my own struggle because I see it as easier or "it could have been worse", but I am learning that I cannot deny my own fight no matter what degree of difficulty it entailed. Because no battle with Cancer is easy and all of us survivors and fighters must embrace our strength, endurance and our fight for life. We are all veterans of the war struggling for peace.