Two months ago, my breasts were removed. Last month I got new ones. Last week Raines started school. Tomorrow, I get my first chemo treatment. And by October I will be bald.
But for the most part, life goes on as normal. Except when it doesn’t (and I’m guessing tomorrow will fall into the “DOESN’T” category). It’s like one day I blinked and found myself in someone else’s life. It’s bewildering and disorienting. How, exactly, did we get here? Mike keeps joking that we randomly woke up in a Kafka novel. I’m guessing that makes me the bug. (Ha!)
But I’m trying to come to terms with being a Cancer Patient (caps intended). Right now it feels like an identity. It’s like when you first become a mom and it messes with your head and maybe your sex life goes to shit for a bit or you struggle to define your new relationship roles and make peace with your new body and just REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE DAMMIT through the sleep deprivation and the incessant needs of a new baby? Yeah. It’s kinda like that all over again…but without the delicious new baby.
And frankly, I’m having trouble identifying with most of the breast cancer culture. The whole warrior woman, I will fight!! rhetoric I find…tiring. I don’t get it. I don’t feel like a warrior, I don’t want to race for a cure, I don’t want to wear a pink ribbon (or anything pink for that matter), I just want it all to GO. AWAY. Warrior? Snort. Hardly. I’m a ballerina, for crying-out-loud! It’s blush, not pink. I wear t-shirts that say “Army of Lovers” and if I’m going to kill anything, it will be with kindness. Like my Mama taught me.
At my last oncology appointment – the one where they help prepare you for your upcoming chemo – I was a flight risk. I was sitting there in the waiting room, looking at all of the women in their head scarves and earrings and could feel myself start to sweat. I’m not one of them!! They are warrior women! And this is all bullshit! BULLSHIT! I looked at Mike. ”Take me away from here” I whispered. And then they called my name.
I think nurse Robin (who will administer the chemo) could tell I was ready to bolt, because she immediately starting talking about my chance of cure. Cure, as in no more cancer. And the thing is…this is it. My one shot at a cure. Because if the cancer ever comes back, the discussion won’t be about a cure, it’ll be about maintenance. So warrior woman or no…this has to be my path.
When we got home from that appointment, there was a package waiting for me, sent by a friend. It contained a card that read, “Cancer Is An Asshole” and a bracelet. The bracelet was engraved with these words:
Fight Like a Girl
Now this? This I can do. Come tomorrow, I’ll be wearing my bracelet and reminding myself to fight like a girl. (Which, as far as I can tell, will consist mostly of taking my meds on time and keeping myself from BEING CRAZY IN GENERAL.)
We will see.