It was almost a year ago that I met with my doctor and she told me she was going to send me for a bilateral mammogram because of the lump that I found. She told me not to worry, but that she wanted to be sure. Looking back, I was a different person then. I was optimistic and had very little fear. I was convinced that this was my foray into the world of benign issues. It's interesting to go back and look at where things were at that time. We were planning on moving forward on the addition to the house. Rick and Courtney's wedding had just passed and they had just returned from their honeymoon. Work was busy but moving along nicely. We were considering having a second child. In fact, when I told my boss that I had the doc appointment, I said "not pregnant, don't worry". We were planning a Disney trip for november. I was excited about several Mary Kay parties I had scheduled. It's so strange how quickly life turned on a dime.
In an instant, life changed. We no longer needed the addition because instead of pregnancy visits to the doctor, it turned into oncology visits. My career got somewhat derailed temporarily. The Mary Kay parties were scrapped. Poor Courtney went from new family member to medical consultant in the blink of an eye. I probably single-handedly killed their "honeymoon phase". The Disney trip got cancelled. Essentially, all of the plans we had in place were for naught. Life wasn't going in that direction. Rudely, cancer shoved me onto a different path. Catastrophe struck!
Next week I go to see Dr Waintraub and Dr Cohen for my follow up appointments. I am assuming there will be a need for scans sometime soon. I will start to make plans for my exchange surgery which is the next step in my reconstruction. I have to admit that planning things are very difficult for me now. Call it post-traumatic stress, but it is very scary to think long term about what comes next in life for me. It's like there is this veil that hangs in front of my future. It will only lift as I get through the next phase of appointments. I feel like I can't look far beyond the next time I see my doctor or the next time. I feel like I need him to tell me it is ok to look forward. I know that people say think positive, and I have tradiationally been an optimistic person... But what you don't realize is the impact that cancer has on your mindset. It stops you cold in your tracks, and makes you hesitate when you think about looking ahead.
Don't misunderstand me. It's not gloom and doom. It's more extreme caution. Think of it this way, if you walked out bearfoot in the summer and stepped on a bee and got stung, you would likely be very hestitant of walking around barefoot again. You would exercise caution. On a grander scale, the same thing applies to cancer. In someways, you learned that there is only so much control we have over our lives and our future. The truth is, everyone has this same limit, but until you experience something so traumatic, you don't realize how little control you really have. I really personally loved that little land of dilusion that I lived in prior to May of last year. I loved believing that I had control over my health. I loved believing that I was in control of the choices in my life and of my future. I guess I needed to be humbled a bit by cancer, and it is accurate to say that I certainly was. The truth is, the cancer experience doesn't end when chemo ends. It stays with you for a long time. As much as I would like to say life has gone back to the way it was, the truth is, that would be a big lie. It's one of the lesser known secrets about cancer. People just assume that once you finish treatment, that you are done, cured. That's no really how it works. There is a certain amount of post traumatic stress that comes along with it all.
So I do the best with the hand I have been dealt. I focus on making this world better for me having had cancer. I'm down with that part of the plan. I am working on the walk and making it a spectacular event. I am lending my experience to every new cancer sister that I come across. There is only so much a girl can do, and that's the frustrating part.
On the upside, last night I was pleased to celebrate a 5 year post-treatment anniversary of a sister from group. That was a beautiful and hopeful place to be. It's wonderful to see how that can be. She is in her 60s and went zip lining last week. How amazing is that? I cannot imagine how invigorating that must be. I am not sure which is more exciting, the zip lining or the 5 years post-treatment part?