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.
You fight like a girl, hit like a girl, walk like a girl, and are a girl that carries toe shoes in her purse. You are you. Nobody beats you. Not even stupid cancer. xo
N, this made me laugh out loud. I needed that. And Mike would probably add that I throw like a girl, too. Love you.
Sent from my iPhone
Love that bracelet. Love you.
Thanks Sweetpea. Love you too.
Sent from my iPhone
Have you ever seen a ballerina’s feet? Those delicate flowers are tough as shit. So much love & strength being sent your way, S. ❤
I couldn’t agree more. Ballerina’s are gorgeous and graceful at first glance, but they’re hardcore. Here’s proof: http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/you-should-know-ballerinas-are-more-hardcore-than-you
My friend Kerri posted your blog and I thank her for it, and you for your great writing!
I love your picture of the coffee and steroid pill. Caffine and steroids? Woah. My sister-in-law (C.F. – cancer fighter) is loving her steroid day. She says she hasn’t gotten so much accomplished in a day EVER. I know you don’t know me, but here’s what I have learned from my C.F. friends. Shave your head. Don’t wait for the hair to fall out due to chemo. That’s too depressing. Wear gorgeous hats or an amazing wig. Think Dolly Parton (Reporter: “How long does it take to do your hair?” Dolly: “I don’t know. I’m not there.”) If you want to wear a scarf, pretend you are Queen Elizabeth. Go with a friend to buy a wig and try on the most ridiculous ones.
I will continue to read your blog. You sound amazing.
– Meg in Minneapolis
I LOVE your writing, Shana! I, too, found it so hard relating to this at first. I’d see commercials and think, “Mom and Dad fit in with those strong, amazing people. That is THEM….I am not half the person either of them were.” It is such an odd feeling. As for fighting, I remember both of my parents saying you don’t fight cancer…you walk with it. Cancer will beat you every single time if you try fighting it….you walk and say, “Ok, you did that…so I will do this. Alright…you are going THAT way, then i will go THIS way.” For me it’s more of a walk….a dance, I never thought of it as a fight.
Good luck with your chemo! I hope it is not too uncomfortable for you and you skate right through it. It will all be so worth it in the end….when you can stand with those beautiful boys KNOWING you walked the path you had to, to be here with them for every step they take in their own life’s journey 🙂