I wrote this post three months after diagnosis with breast cancer. Reading it again, I’m struck by how I had no concept of the long term impact of my dance with cancer on me and my near and dear. Not that all of the impact has been bad, by any means: in many ways we’re closer, stronger, happier, I think. But I read this, my determination to Make It Not Matter shining through, and it’s another one of those times when I want to find a way to pop back a couple of years and give myself a hug and tell me that actually, it will all be all right. That it might take a while, but that’s OK, because some things do.
I find it strange that I don’t really mind the dance with cancer itself that much. I haven’t done a lot of ‘why me’ or ‘not fair’ (although others have on my behalf, and it breaks my heart to see it) – maybe because my life of late has been so immersed in love and happiness that, perhaps, it’s time for a little rain to fall. Maybe because, cancer and all, my life is still immersed in love and happiness. Maybe it’s because, assuming that some sort of illness will befall me at some point, an operable breast cancer at a time when the medical community can knock it on the head pretty effectively, and when I am otherwise well, fit, young, financially secure, and with a support network as solid as a rock, is not a bad way to do it.
There are things that I do mind. I mind the tiredness, the breathlessness (I walked up three flights of stairs on Tuesday, and had to stop because I was literally – and this is a correct use of the word literally- keeling over), the ‘out of body’ feeling in the few days post-chemotherapy; it’s as though I am my own puppeteer, steering myself jerkily through everyday life. I mind the amount of time that’s being sucked into sitting in waiting rooms and walking hospital corridors, and the fact that when I tell someone I’m OK they look at me a bit sideways. And I mind the PICC line. I’m trying to think of it as my bionic arm, my unaccustomed plumbing, my highway to a bruise-free life….. but I mind it. I really do. And with it I mind not being able to have a proper bath or go swimming. (Not being able to play golf, squash or tennis is just fine.)
More than anything, I mind the fact that my family and friends are anxious and worried and saddened by my dance with this disease, and I wish I could make them realise how much I don’t mind it; how it’s just a little thing that’s teaching me a lot and giving me a lot, however much I wouldn’t have chosen it, and however much it bugs me sometimes. It’s heartbreaking to see your parents and your children upset; but as we continue through this dance I think we are all starting to mind a bit less.
First posted January 28 2009