That’s how long my abdominal incision is. 28 inches. We got bored today, so A measured it (by we, I mean me).
It spans from the mid-back part of my left hip bone across my abdomen to the mid-back part of my right hip bone. Seriously, think of a pair of jeans. Imagine the side seam on the leg. Now, come up to the hip and draw a line all the way across to the other side seam. That’s my incision. It’s long. It’s gnarly. It’s held together by layers of stitches and glue, a lot of surgical glue. There are bruises and areas that ooze the occasional drop of blood.
I’m fairly amazed at how little pain I’m in from it. I do tire more easily, and the incision no longer hurts. Occassionally, it aches, but I think that’s more the skin stretching.
28 inches doesn’t seem like a tall hurdle to cross, but it is.
Cancer hasn’t given me a break since this time last August. This coming week is the last week I had any ignorance of what waited for me. My ride on the cancer coaster began August 18, 2015, even though all we knew on that day was my OBGYN wanted a baseline mammogram and ultrasound of my left breast. August 20, 2015 began to confirm my fears. An area of distortion, the radiologist said. We need more tests. August 25, 2015 those tests were done. August 27, 2015 and I heard, “You have breast cancer.”
I want to dream my ride on the coaster is coming to an even piece of track that extends slowly, with no sudden drops or hills. I want to dream cancer, in its current form, will be my past and not my future. I know I will never be cancer free because how can you be free from something that changes you so fundamentally? I want to dream I will see S and AJ grow into young adults. I want to dream I will still grow old.
Cancer stripped me of my sense of well being, my sense of immortality, my health, and at times, more times than I can count, my joy and my peace. I cried a little with A tonight. We were talking about the new house. I told him I was scared I’d only get to live there as a sick person instead of a healthy person, enjoying the new areas with her children. I don’t want my children’s only memories of me in the new house to be as a sick and dying person. A sat beside me and said, “If we let fears like that guide us, you and I, we’re both dead. I can’t live that way, and I won’t let you live that way. I know you feel your time is short. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you grieve for time you don’t know if you’re really going to lose.”
He’s a hell of a guy.
I get melancholy as summers come to an end. I’m not ready to give up the long hours with S and AJ, even on the days they make me crazy because they’re stir crazy. I’m not ready to take back the responsibility of 150+ other kids who need my attention. I feel cheated this summer, and I feel as if I’ve cheated S and AJ because of the time we’ve lost together over the last week and a half because of this surgery.
28 inches. Almost two and a half feet. My blood. My skin. My hopes and dreams in those 28 inches for a rebuilt life. I’ll never be who I was this time last summer again. I’ll never be who I am right now again. I am at the whims of Fate.
I crave peace. I crave peace. I crave peace. Yet, I fear letting go of my fear. I can’t find peace until I let go of my fear. Maybe those 28 inches can be my pound of flesh. My penance. My plea to God to let me survive this disease. Hear me. See me. Don’t forsake me.
A insists if I keep living in fear, I’m as good as dead. I fear if I let go of the fear, God will smite me. The proverbial rock and hard place. I’m stuck in a purgatory of my own design…perhaps it can only be healed by time, yet time is what I fear. Time for the cancer to hide, to regroup, to regrow, to rear its incurable head. Then, though, time is also what I crave as much as peace. More time with S and AJ and A. More time to savor those three pieces of my soul, those three who make my soul whole. More time to make a difference, to imprint myself upon S and AJ, to live, to mother, to love.
I may die to cancer. I may survive cancer only to die to something else. It’s hard to imagine dying to anything else when cancer connotates death. Time offers a false promise. Time could allow the cancer to come back. Could. That’s the key word. Could. Time is what I want the most, though, so I take what I can get. I could be dead in six months. I could live another sixty years.
I’ve given my blood, my skin, my tears, my health, and my well-being to this disease. At some point, enough becomes enough, and maybe I’ve reached that point.
28 inches. Almost two and a half feet. Maybe that’s the length of my breaking point.