I always thought a cancer diagnosis would feel like grief. Bottomless dark. Maybe it just hasn’t settled yet, maybe it’s still too soon. On Sunday I went with my two best gal pals to the Union Square Holiday Market. We had lunch in the jazz room at Blue Water Grill, then walked half a block to the market where we spent hours shopping our way through the maze of artisan booths. We bought wonderful little gifts and for long stretches of time, I forgot there was anything wrong. There was only one brief moment that washed over me like a wave. “Do you think I will lose all my hair?” I asked.
I’ve sat with this diagnosis for all of four days and I haven’t shed a single tear. My emotions feel flat. It’s all so unreal. There are still friends I need to call, people who will need to be told, but I’m not good at the telling. I called my mother’s cell after I got the news and spit the words out with no preamble. She wasn’t even aware I had had a mammogram, so the news must have felt like a blow. There was no lead in, just this: I have breast cancer. In that moment, the distance between her in LA and me in NY must have felt like the earth to the moon. At least it felt that way to me.
Since I got the news, I have only wanted to buy soft comfortable clothes. I can’t explain it. Something about being sick, but not being sick. I bought a new pair of yoga pants on Friday and I have been obsessed with finding things to wear that feel like pajamas but aren’t.
I don’t know how this all fits together, but I think it’s the only way my brain can process what’s happening. There’s still an element of denial woven in between the brief moments of panic and fear. I don’t know how to wear this diagnosis. It still feels like I’m trying on someone else’s clothes.
I keep thinking I’ll wake up tomorrow and everything will be like it used to be. Only it won’t, will it?