I use my blog as a way for me to work through my fears and thoughts about my breast cancer diagnosis. I struggle sometimes to articulate just how strongly I feel about what’s happened to me. Then, tonight, a friend linked me this article on HuffPo, “The Missing Conversation in Pinktober: Emotional Scars of Breast Cancer.”
I read the article as A drove us home from a family dinner where we fairly studiously avoid political discussion because when we don’t, my father-in-law and I often end up yelling, lovingly, at one another about our political views. As I read the article, I felt gut punched. Here, finally, someone articulated exactly how I feel about pinktober, pink ribbons, and everything happy, happy about breast cancer according to some awareness campaigns.
Dr. H was the first doctor I told I was struggling with panic attacks after my diagnosis. Dr. B was the first doctor I told I couldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours. The two of them immediately put me on an OTC sleep aid and Xanax. Dr. O nixed the OTC for Ambien. Why am I admitting this in public? I needed help coping with what was happening to me. Insomnia was already a good friend, but when cancer happened, insomnia moved right on in and made itself at home. I slept in two hour stretches. If I was lucky, I slept maybe three or four hours total. The level of anxiety I experienced after my diagnosis was a level I’d never experienced prior to cancer. I’m lucky. My doctors don’t just ask me how I’m feeling physically. They ask how I’m feeling in totality. Dr. H was the first doctor to suggest to me that I needed to think about talking to someone. She was the first to talk to me about trauma and cancer.
As much as I wish I could avoid the realities of what’s happened to me, I can’t. I see it in the mirror every time I change clothes. I can’t avoid the reminders. I’ve had panic attacks simply from walking into the Sammons Center. Pink ribbons are reminders. Pink campaigns are reminders. I cannot avoid the reminders.
I’m not weak. I’m just scarred, inside and outside. This article put it all into words for me. It’s a gut punch for me.