I have to admit this out loud to someone, and why not you, dear internets?
Although I feel like I accomplished a lot this week, I am ashamed to admit that it is in part because I feel such an urgency about the things that I really wish to accomplish before I leave this Earth.
I suppose that’s the cancer talking. You see, I don’t really know if I’m cancer-free or not right now. Yes, I had 6 months of chemotherapy to attack the cancer. Yes, I had a double mastectomy to cut out the cancer that was left after chemo. Yes, I’m in the midst of 7 weeks of daily radiation right now to kill any cells that might have been left behind.
But I haven’t had any scans that would tell me whether or not there are lumps of cancer that are growing elsewhere. I suspect not, as I feel strikingly good (better than I have in years!), but I just don’t know. I won’t know, in fact, unless I have a PET scan after my treatment is complete at the end of April.
Once you’ve fought cancer — and won — how do you banish its presence from your life? How do you put aside the worries about recurrence (IBC has a recurrence rate of 90% within five years, and most of those are within 2 or 3 years of treatment), about side effects (like, say, lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, which is extremely likely for someone who’s having as much radiation over as large a surface as I am? It’s so likely, in fact, that the only question is whether I’ll survive the breast cancer long enough to develop lymphoma), and about an early death?
Sorry, Mom, and sorry, playdate friends, but this is where I am right now.
I never promised that it would be easy, but I did promise to always tell you the truth about what it’s like to fight this cancer.