It is hard to describe how it feels to hate part of your body. To be disgusted by it. Betrayed by it. It's not like having a bad hair day. Or when I was heavier and "hated" being overweight. That was more of an internal thing. The weight was just a reflection of other things going on, bad choices I made, a negative spiral that had happened for decades. It was about a year ago when something "clicked" in my head and made me decide to turn it around. I did everything right by my body and the weight came off. Then my breast turned on me. Anyone who has debated me knows that I like to have the last word. And I will with this too. In a week, I'll have the final word and the breast will BE GONE. The right one is a casualty of war. Sorry, but collateral damage happens.
The ironic thing is that I was actually liking my body (breasts included) for the first time. I was proud of what it had done in the past, sure. Growing 3 babies. Breastfeeding each one for a year. Having natural births at home after a cesarean with Olivier (HBAC). That was an awesome achievement for my body. My breasts were good at making milk, too. Sometimes, the poor baby would choke at all of the milk flowing! I would have to double up on pads in my bra so I wouldn't leak. They served their purpose quite well. But they were still big, floppy and made me uncomfortable. So when I went from a D cup to a B it was actually nice. Some people might complain about losing weight in their bustline. Not me. It was more proportioned with my height. I liked it.
But then the cancer was found. Now I detest them and want them gone.
In a way, I can design my new breasts. Even with prosthetics, I can be whatever size I want to be. You can bet I won't go over a B. I think it may be strange wearing prosthetics after the mastectomy. They say it is important for your shoulders and overall balance to wear them. Clothes will fit like they should. But everyone knows that my breasts will have been cut off. Will everyone be staring at my chest? It's kind of funny to write this on the blog, because now you're all on notice. But these are the thoughts I've been having. Then I thought....what about women who have had boob jobs? Everyone knows about that...are they worried that people are staring at their chests? Oh, the places the mind goes while waiting for surgery!
Another aspect of this is one I've alluded to before, and that is having my mind always elsewhere. I can't say I really "enjoy" anything right now, although some things come close. Yesterday came close. Isabelle and I were at a swimming party for her girl scout troop. Her leader just came out of breast cancer treatment several months ago. She has been a wonderful friend and confidante in all of this, because she knows exactly what I'm going through. I thought I was putting on a pretty good show yesterday. But at one point she called me out, in a loving way, about me not being "present." Busted! It was okay. In fact, it is kind of nice to have someone around who understands and gets it. It was nice to chat with some of my friends and talk about things, even the cancer. It's not something that I want to hide. I'm glad it wasn't the big elephant in the room (or poolside) yesterday.
My mom has mentioned that since my diagnosis, even her breasts have hurt. Another friend found an odd bump on the side of her chest that has her concerned. If my journey does anything, I hope it sends the message to each and every woman, regardless of her age, to be aware of any changes in her breasts. Go for screenings. Even if they say you are too young. Actually DO the monthly self-exams. There are other screening techniques besides mammograms, too. My midwife mentioned while I was pregnant with Jean-Marc some kind of thermal imaging scan. She said she periodically had some guy come to her office and screen women who were interested. You may have to pay for it out of pocket, but catching a cancer at stage 0 is worth a few bucks, in my opinion. Time is your enemy, and it is deadly.
So here I am, marking time. Only a week left. There are are things for me to do: I need to go in for a chest X-ray; I'm meeting my best friend at Glen Ivy on Saturday for a spa day; I still need to do my advanced health care directive; church on Sunday; I want to wash and change the sheets on my bed before surgery; tidy up a bit for my mother in law's arrival on the 20th; welcome Olivier home and hear about his camp adventures; go visit my new nephew and hear my sister and law tell me her epic birth story; make sure our finances are set and bills are paid; and of course..BLOG!
My prayer requests today:
- That the cancer stops in its tracks and does not go beyond where we know it is. That those pesky cells just freeze for the next 7 days. Or even disappear. I know God can do that if it is in His will.
- That I be able to rest. I actually was able to sleep over 7 hours last night. What a blessing! But I do think I need continued prayer for it. Isn't it amazing how dependent we are on God...even for our rest?
- That I be able to focus on our finances and get all the bills paid before surgery. I don't want to miss any payments that would cause problems. (Especially insurance premiums!)
- That my kids have peace of mind. I told Isabelle the other day that if she had any questions or fears, she could ask me. Her question was...."Mom, are you going to die?" So even though they may put on a brave face and not seem to get it, they are scared. Pray that they be able to share these fears with us and not keep them bottled up.