When you’re first diagnosed with breast cancer and you share the news with your family and friends, people tell you some pretty specific things. They tell you that you’ll beat this thing. You are a warrior. You’re strong. You’ve got this. Then, when there aren’t any more cancer cells in your body, they congratulate you because you’ve don’t it. You beat it. It’s over. Maybe if you’ve been through chemotherapy it feels more like a war than it has with me. I don’t feel like I won some sort of battle. Instead, I feel mired in the trenches.
Before I had cancer, I would have thought that a person at my stage of the game was pretty much done. Cancer’s gone, right? War over. It turns out that not what it’s like at all, at least not for me.
Cancer is a horrible disease in so many ways. The first is, of course, that it can kill you. Many people die from cancer every year and I am so glad to not be among them. Less obvious but almost as insidious is the way it affects your daily life, though, and not just while those cells are present and active. I feel like im battling against cancer every day now. I’m battling the constant presence of negative thoughts. I’m battling the pain all day long. Daughter is falling apart, Husband is grieving. We’re all waging this terrible battle.
Right now it doesn’t feel like our family’s war will ever be over. All I want is a few days in which cancer isn’t the focus. I don’t want to think about my breasts- or the one remaining one. I don’t want the next surgery looming in the distance. I don’t want to cry when I catch my reflection- naked or clothed- because of what’s gone from me. I don’t want to hate my tops or my ravaged chest. I just want to be like I was. I guess that’s what everyone wants in some ways, and we just can’t get it. So for now I can look forward to the days when it’s not the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the thoughts that I try to force out of my brain as I fall asleep. Every war has to end eventually.