Monday, January 18, 2010

It's been 4 years, 2 days...

...since my breast cancer diagnosis. I'm thinking---WOW! I was determined to beat the cancer, but I never thought about sitting here looking back over four years of treatment.

I carry many scars. Physical and emotional. I still consider myself a cancer patient. In some ways, I've gotten stuck there.

Chemotherapy left me with neuropathy in my feet, legs, and fingers. Many patients get neuropathy, but most get through it in about a year post-chemo. The neuropathy limits my standing, walking, and squatting.

My chest is a mass of scar tissue. A gifted surgeon in Baltimore was able to relieve much of my discomfort with a DIEP Flap reconstruction. But the restriction remains.

And the cramps puzzle me. In my feet, legs, back, axilla, and chest. I am hoping it is a side effect of the Tamoxifen, but it might be my fascia reacting to the scars and neuropathy.

I have gotten over the blazing white anger I had with Dr. Boob for his flawed surgeries. In fact, I have very little anger toward him. I thank my therapist for that.

I have gotten over the disappointment that Jim wasn't more available to help during my treatment. I came to understand how sick he was, and am just thankful that I still have him. In fact, he is doing great! All his liver values are normal, he has had both knees replaced, and he goes to the YMCA for cardiovascular and strength work 3 to 4 times/week.

I am thankful for all the friends who gathered around me (in spirit mostly) during my treatment, during Jim's illness, and even now. They lift me up in so many ways.

The past 4 years have been quite a roller coaster. There is a door closing behind me. In front of me is the same world, but seen in such a different way. Life is fragile. I have lost four cats and one brother since this started. Cancer took four of those lives.

I have also lost friends that I made on the journey, also to their cancers.

And I stand here, a survivor but afraid to call myself one. I have lost the excitement I had for life before this began. I am afraid that if I embrace life, it will once again try to crumble around me.

(PS. As a little walk down memory lane before I posted this, I reread the thread on the FDMB where I announced my breast cancer. Such support. Thank you all.)


Anonymous said...

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Diabetic Cats in Need said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for bringing me back to this post. I have been thinking about trying to figure out when my 5 year mark would be, and now I can see from this post, made over a year ago, that I have passed it.

Five years is the magic number at which folks are congratulated for "beating" cancer. It's a statistical mark. Most women with breast cancer meet the 5-year mark, meaning they did not die in the preceding five years, from BC or something else.

I am not happy having hit 5 years. That is because I continue to not be happy with the scars that treatment, and life, have left me with during the past five years. It's time for me to write my five-year post. I hope you do not come back to read it, Anonymous. It will not be pretty.