When Eden Spodek wrote about her long ordeal in a healthy woman's battle with breast cancer she was extremely brave. And I surmise that she was brave through the whole experience.
It sounded like me in my forties; A part of me that's gone missing. For example although I knew most of Eden's story in advance, when I read it I cried. I gave her some feedback, then cried again. I sobbed when I pushed the publish button and again when I read it to my family.
I'm not generally a crier. Instead I'm more likely to just take action. Jump in. Fix something. Offer something. DO something!
But she was so brave. I'm so disappointed with myself by comparison these days.
All week I've been trying to figure out what's really at the core of this fear that's increasing daily to the point that it's overtaken me and nearly frozen me in place.
Back in December when I get that sudden diagnosis of invasive breast cancer that had already grown, I was very matter of fact. I went through the testing at that time with my pragmatic self intact.
An odd blend of self- deprecating black humor and perkyness seemed to be a good defense.
But over the past five months much of my authentic self seems to have ebbed away and my veneer worn thin.
My husband any youngest daughter have provided sounding boards and care whenever I asked something of them - and even when I didn't. She cooks, shops, runs errands, and does the nurturing part of the job. He cleans, works, makes appointments for me and goes to most, then goes back and works some more before coming home to play listening board to my concerns.
Why can't I be brave and strong with all that support?
Searching for clues, tonight at http://www.breastcancer.org I read a question from a woman who admitted to having a high level of fear about her cancer experience. Rosalind Kleban MSW, Administrative Supervisor for psychosocial programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Lauder Breast Center in New York City told the patient:
"you are doing brave things—taking care of yourself and doing things that need to be done. It's always amazing to me how wonderful breast cancer patients look. That just covers what they're experiencing within—the terror, uncertainty, fear—how they are really feeling."
I'm not so sure this applies to me. Oh sure, I'm doing some of the things I need to do. I've been looking for a doctor who was on my wave length and so far the progress is that:
- My mastectomy has healed and my chest wall gradually expanded.
- I now have one partially rebuilt breast and one intact breast that will be "matched" in a double surgery that has been moved up to June 11th. The end of that road is in sight.
- On the other hand a bone scan reveals that cancer may have spread and could be responsible for pain I'm feeling in a number of other areas.
- These will
be screened tomorrow with CT scans and X-rays.
- I'm meeting with an oncologist on June 5th to go over new CT scans and X-rays test results as well as pathology reports and tests from December and January..
But most of that has been guided my husband's appointment making skills. Behind the progress I'm beginning to come apart at the seams and the uncertainty and terror is starting to show. It's not the CT scan, or the IV contrast and bariuum coctail that I fear.
Beyond the tests is the great unknown
So perhaps it's really about the long schlog just to get to this point. And the waiting. Perhaps it's about more strangers and even more doctors. Then add in putting my trust in each person on a medical staff will assure that their part of the process is done and done correctly.
It could be the myriad of possibilities that await, or even resenting putting on a positive face. And the responsibility of educating myself and the family so that we can consider options of what to do no matter how things turn out.
In the end
The wearing away of my pragmatic, chipper, upbeat
self is getting on my nerves. If I was my kid, I'd be tempted to give me/them a swift smack on the tushie and tell them to lose the tone.