Last school year, after I told my students I had breast cancer, one girl stayed after class and told me her mom had finished treatment for breast cancer two years prior. Then, she cried. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I did what I could do, gave her a hug, and listened as she talked about her mom.
Her mom is pretty awesome, and she’s become a friend of mine. She walked into my classroom last February, right before my bilateral mastectomy, with a huge basket of stuff and told me in the basket was everything she wished someone had given her before her mastectomy.
Like I said, her mom is pretty awesome. And, she’s a great friend.
Yesterday, we were texting about doctors and appointments. I had an appointment for a Lupron shot yesterday, and I had to see Dr. D, my radiation oncologist today. The appointment for my Lupron shot upset me a little bit. The nurse who did the shot talked incessantly about what might cause hot flashes, asked if I have hot flashes, what am I doing before they hit, how am I handling them, and when I brought up that I have more trouble with sleeping than hot flashes, she furrowed her brow…and, immediately went back to talking about hot flashes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After the shot, she brought up my appointment calendar to see when my next shot needed to be and realized my 20 week appointment with Dr. O would put me three weeks out of when my next Lupron shot should be, so if I waited until I see Dr. O again, I would be in danger of regaining ovarian function.
Nope…reschedule my appointment. Now.
And, Dr. O’s new scheduler did. She was great.
But the nurse unnerved me, talking about the possibility of my regaining ovarian function. I’ve put off having a hysterectomy because Dr. B, my amazing OBGYN, retired in October, and I couldn’t have a hysterectomy until my incision from my reconstruction healed. All of my doctors assured and reassured me it was fine for the hysterectomy to be the (hopefully) last surgery I have to have. I don’t have Dr. B anymore, though, so I asked Dr. O for a referral, and she and Dr. H referred me to the same OBGYN. I texted my student’s mom yesterday, though, to find out who had done her second surgery. She had a hysterectomy, but she developed ovarian remnant syndrome. She loved the doctor who did her second surgery to remove the remnants. So, I texted her to get another name…then, we ended up text talking for nearly an hour about how much we both hate cancer and hate everything that has to do with it.
It’s completely affected who I am as a wife, mother, daughter, teacher, person. And, I feel like no one but others who’ve dealt with cancer really understand how profoundly it affects every part of your life. It’s not something you “get over,” or if it is, I’m not there yet. I think about it every. single. day.
Yesterday evening, A and I went out on a date night while my mom stayed with S and AJ. We went out to eat and then walked around a local mall. As we passed through the junior girls’ clothing section of a store, I made a comment to A that he needed to pay attention to S’s clothing choices when she’s a teenager. He stopped me and said, “Why? Because you think you won’t be around when she’s a teenager?”
Ding, ding, ding.
Lately, I feel like everything I do is the opposite of what I’m supposed to do to keep the cancer from coming back, or what Dr. Google says I should do. Dr. O says I should stress less, lose some weight, and exercise everyday. Dr. Google says I should do all of that and eat stuff I hate and relax more and be more gracious and be more in tune with my body and to take pick-a-supplement and…and…and.
I keep coming back to one thing: I hate myself for everything I am not. So, I can either do something about it or learn to love myself for who I am.
Or, I can do a little bit of both.
The kids and I walked 2 miles yesterday afternoon and ended up down at the lake.
I made the deliberate choice to drink water today instead of taking the easy route of popping open a Dr. Pepper.
I don’t want to hate myself anymore. I don’t want S and AJ to remember me as a person who hated herself, who never felt she was good enough, who felt like cancer was her fault because of X, Y, and Z.
A friend on Facebook told me I’m becoming more outspoken, more of the person she sees inside me that I keep inside because I’m a people pleaser who doesn’t like to make people mad.
I hate being afraid to speak my mind because I might make someone mad or someone might be disappointed I do share the same viewpoint. So, that ship has somewhat sailed. I may still try to be a people pleaser, but I’m having a hard time caring too much about making people mad with decisions I make that they don’t like. I do care about making people mad because I’ve screwed up.
Ultimately, I don’t want to hate who I am because of cancer. This is who I am now. I can either accept it and figure out who I am, or I can keep fighting to be who I was.
I just don’t want to be told, ever again, by anyone, to just get over it. This isn’t something you get over. This is something that changes you. It’s changed me. I can’t get over it.