No one knows what to do or say. I get that. Some people are scared and worried and that makes it hard to step up, to simply say “tell me what you need.” Others are thoughtful and practical, offering to cook meals or pick my son up from school. I am grateful to the dear friend who says “I’ll go with you — wherever, whenever.” In these moments, it truly is the thought that counts.
In some ways, everything is normal. But in every other way, it’s not. There’s still groceries and laundry and dusting and homework. Life keeps happening. My husband goes to work, he navigates the RR and the subway and the ups and downs of a stressful job. My son — still unaware of my diagnosis — goes to school and does homework and tutoring and guitar lessons. Life moves forward.
But it’s different for me. Something has changed. And while things may look the same on the outside, my inside is all twisted and tangled and even when those knots loosen, the threads are still creased. Nothing inside me will ever lay flat again.
I have an MRI scheduled for Monday and an appointment with a highly-recommended breast surgeon on Tuesday. I am slowly learning a little more about my cancer and what I can expect to happen in the next couple of weeks. I seem to live within a cluster of breast cancer patients and survivors. I’m not sure why our little community, this tiny village on Long Island, has been so touched by this disease, but it has and that means I have so many friends who have been there, who know the doctors and the protocol and the impact this can have on a family, a marriage, a life.
I have a strong family history of cancer. So I’m going to be aggressive about my treatment plan. It doesn’t make sense to be conservative here, I need to eliminate the cancer and the possibility of its recurrance. And while that may be the harder road to travel initially, I think in the end it will be the wisest. We’ll see what the surgeon has to say on Tuesday.
Cancer. I still can’t quite accept it.
I have no doubt about how difficult this is for the people who love me. My mother is suffering the distance. I know what it’s like to be the one who isn’t there. I’ve lived 3,000 miles away from my family for close to 30 years. It’s not easy, and when someone is sick or hurting or dying, it’s impossible. My husband is struggling too. The medical stuff is hard for him.
It may sound harsh to say this, but I need to do what is right for me — and only me — right now. I have to put myself first. And as a wife, a mother, that isn’t something that comes naturally, or even feels comfortable or right. The words taste funny on my tongue.
Cancer. It kind of forces your hand, doesn’t it? Priorities shift. Things that were important last week don’t matter now. And yet it’s finding that balance, making room for this diagnosis and treatment, the endless phone calls and appointments and tests and paperwork, and still finding joy and comfort in the life that continues on around you — all of it different, but somehow still the same.