When I had cancer when I was a kid, I only cried about it when the nurses gave me too much Ativan or I was exceptionally exhausted.
Some people will chalk that up to the fact that I was a kid and didn’t know what was going on, but that’s just bullshit.
I didn’t cry because all of the adults did that for me.
I was okay with being the strong one. I stayed in fight mode most of my childhood and at diagnosis, looking back, I was intensely in that mindset. All I was concerned with was survival. If you know my story, you may be able to understand that.
This time I cry a lot. I cry in the car. I cry at work. I cry sitting on the couch. I cry walking Albus. I don’t cry when I read about it, when I’m at the doctor’s office or when I tell someone about it. One person gets to see it and experience it, and I think he is okay with that.
Despite the physical emotional reaction, it is important to me to point out that Breast cancer will not be the cancer that defines me. Breast cancer will be nothing compared to what I did when I was a kid. Yes, this is hard. But it is NOTHING compared to cancer at 12. I had just really realized that I am alive, just realized what my emotions were fully capable of… and I learned I had cancer. I had chemo for 3-5 days every other week. About half way through my treatment, I had a total knee replacement and I began to see the doctor twice a week instead of once. On Monday and Thursday, whether or not I was to be admitted, I had one outpatient treatment- an experimental drug that turned out to be completely useless. I did this ‘one week in, one week out, surgery, experimental drug’ thing for a whole year. There were complications here and there, of course.
I did it all while going through puberty.
I beat it and saved my leg in the process only to have to turn around and have complications with my knee replacement that resulted in gnarly bone infection and amputation, but I beat it. I put a good 5 years of my adolescence into it… And it was worth it.
At 27, I have spent only 20 years of my life not dealing with something cancer related. But can I even count 9 of those years? The last 9 years of my life… I have dealt with it every single day… because, frankly, people have no tact. Cancer has destroyed my body. I have no idea what it is like to go to the grocery store or out to eat and not be stared at. But really, most days during my time as an amputee, I didn’t notice the stares.
Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 28th of December, I see them all. Not just the loud kids and the mothers and fathers that don’t know how to handle it (if you are one of those mothers or fathers, I recommend teaching them that it is okay to be curious and ask questions, it is okay to be different, it is not okay to point or make people feel bad about being different and PLEASE don’t just physically remove them from my area or turn their heads for them or hit them. I may not have a child, but in these 9 years Ive seen what has worked and what hasn’t.) But also the ones I used to easily ignore… the middle aged, educated men and women that should know better, the elderly (senile or not!), men and women in those electronic carts (i think they stare because they have no business in one and seeing me push a buggy causes guilt. seriously) whole families of all races (except Hispanic families. They NEVER stare), teenage girls with badly applied makeup… etc etc etc. I notice ALL of them right now. Previously, I felt pity for THEM when I noticed.
I hate that cancer has this power. It has the power to destroy my body again and again and destroy my confidence.
You can all say it only has the power if I let it.
Well, that is crap.
You can’t stop yourself from feeling things, no matter how silly and petty those feelings are. I know that I have a choice here, but right now that choice is to not act out on these RIDICULOUS feelings. So, I’m not.
Eventually, my confidence will be back. But right now I have rage.